California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks in California

May also be called: Concierges; Desk Clerks; Front Desk Agents; Front Desk Associates; Front Desk Attendants; Front Desk Clerks; Front Desk Supervisors; Front Office Agents; Guest Services Agents (GSA); and Guest Service Representatives

What Would I Do?

Whether traveling for pleasure or business; all travelers receive service from Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks when staying at different lodging establishments. Hotel Desk Clerks perform a wide range of services which include greeting and registering arriving guests; assigning rooms; and checking out guests at the end of their stay. They also keep records of room assignments and other registration information on computers. When guests check out, Clerks prepare and explain charges and process payments.

In addition, Desk Clerks answer questions about services, check-out times, the community, or current local events. Clerks also report problems with guest rooms or facilities to housekeeping and maintenance staff. In larger hotels or chain establishments, Desk Clerks may refer questions about area attractions to a concierge and direct more complicated issues to the appropriate manager. However, some hotels have eliminated the concierge position and have transferred the responsibilities to the Hotel Desk Clerk.

In some smaller hotels and motels, where fewer staff are employed, Clerks may be responsible for a variety of tasks including all front-office operations, information, and services. For example, they may perform the work of a bookkeeper, advance reservation agent, cashier, laundry attendant, and telephone operator.

Tools and Technology

Hotel Desk Clerks use a variety of tools in the course of their work. These include music or message on hold player, personal computers, pressure or steam cleaners, and vacuum cleaners. They also use automated telephone answering, premise branch exchange (PBX), caller identification, and voice mail systems. Clerks use technology such as incident tracking, desktop publishing, e-mail, facilities management, spreadsheet, and word processing software.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Verify customers' credit, and establish how the customer will pay for the accommodation.Coordination
Contact housekeeping or maintenance staff when guests report problems.Problem Sensitivity
Make and confirm reservations.Information Ordering
Issue room keys and escort instructions to bellhops.Speech Clarity
Keep records of room availability and guests' accounts, manually or using computers.Clerical
Perform simple bookkeeping activities, such as balancing cash accounts.Mathematical Reasoning
Post charges, such as those for rooms, food, liquor, or telephone calls, to ledgers manually or by using computers.Administration and Management
Record guest comments or complaints, referring customers to managers as necessary.Service Orientation
Transmit and receive messages, using telephones or telephone switchboards.Oral Comprehension
Answer inquiries pertaining to hotel services, registration of guests, and shopping, dining, entertainment, and travel directions.Oral Expression
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Since hotels are open around the clock, most Desk Clerks work nights and weekends in addition to regular business hours. Extended hours of operation allow many part-time job seekers more work opportunities, especially on evenings and late-night shifts or on weekends and holidays. About half of all Desk Clerks work a 35- to 40- hour week, while most others work fewer hours. Most Clerks work in areas that are clean, well lit, and relatively quiet, although lobbies can become crowded and noisy when busy. Some hotels require uniforms.

Desk Clerks may experience hectic periods during check-in and check-out times especially when assisting convention guests or large groups of tourists at one time. Moreover, dealing with irate guests can be stressful. Hotel Desk Clerks may be on their feet most of the time and may be asked to lift heavy luggage.

Unionization is not common in this occupation.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerk may appeal to those who are friendly and courteous and enjoy working with people. Since Desk Clerks are usually the first line of customer service for a hotel, a professional appearance and a pleasant personality are crucial. Furthermore, the Desk Clerk’s attitude and behavior may influence customers’ impressions of the establishment, so they should always be polite and helpful. Tact and patience are also necessary in providing service to different groups of customers, especially some who may be more demanding. Desk Clerks should be effective communicators to provide accurate lodging information, directions, and answers to customer inquiries.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Earnings of Hotel, Motel and Resort Desk Clerks vary due to a number of seasonal or geographic factors, such as whether the establishment is in a major metropolitan area or a resort community. Earnings also will vary according to the size of the hotel and the level of service offered. For example, luxury hotels that offer guests more personal attention and a greater number of services typically have stricter and more demanding requirements for their desk staff. These higher standards of service also result in higher earnings for employees.

Wages

The median wage in 2015 for Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks in California was $24,234 annually, or $11.65 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$21,037$24,234$29,501
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Benefits vary by employer and are generally available only to full-time employees. These benefits usually include medical insurance, vacation, and sick leave. Employers sometimes include dental and vision coverage and retirement plans. However, some large chain hotels that operate as franchises may be operated by single franchisees who do not offer benefits. Therefore, prospective Hotel Desk Clerks who are interested in receiving benefits should ask to ensure they are available prior to employment.

What is the Job Outlook?

Most job openings for Hotel Desk Clerks will result from a need to replace workers who either transfer to other occupations or simply leave the workforce altogether. Opportunities for part-time work should continue to be plentiful, because these businesses typically are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some part-time workers are students who take jobs as Desk Clerks on evening or weekend shifts or during school vacation periods.

Employment of Hotel and Motel Desk Clerks should benefit from a shift away from long vacations and toward shorter, more frequent trips. This may also boost demand for Hotel Desk Clerks. While many lower budget and extended-stay establishments are being built to cater to families and the leisure traveler, many new luxury and resort accommodations also are opening to serve the upscale client. With the increased number of units requiring staff, employment opportunities for Desk Clerks should be good. Growth of Hotel Desk Clerk jobs will be moderated by technology as automated check-in and check-out procedures reduce the backlog of guests waiting for desk service. Nevertheless, the front desk remains the first point of contact for guests at most lodging establishments, and most will continue to have Desk Clerks on duty.

Employment of Desk Clerks, like many occupations, is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. During recessions, vacation and business travel declines, and hotels and motels need fewer Desk Clerks. Similarly, employment is affected by special events, convention business, and seasonal fluctuations.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks are expected to increase by 14.1 percent, or 3,300 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
23,40026,7003,30014.111,100
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 330 new job openings per year is expected for Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks, plus an additional 1,110 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,440 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
3301,1101,440
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Formal education generally is not required, but most employers require at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. They also look for well groomed, friendly, and service-oriented people who display the maturity and self-confidence to demonstrate good judgment. Desk Clerks, especially in high-volume and higher-end establishments, should be quick-thinking, proactive, and team players. Hotel managers typically look for these personal characteristics when hiring first-time Desk Clerks, because it is easier to teach company policy and computer skills than personality traits.

Most Hotel Desk Clerks receive orientation and on-the-job training. Orientation may include an explanation of the job duties and information about the establishment, and surrounding retail and dining options. New Desk Clerks may receive training from a supervisor or an experienced desk clerk. Some new employees receive additional training on interpersonal or customer service skills and on how to use the computerized systems and equipment. Desk Clerks typically continue to receive instruction on new procedures and on company policies after their initial training ends.

Experience

Hotel Desk Clerk jobs usually require little or no previous work experience, although some establishments require one year’s experience in front desk or guest service in a field related to the hospitality industry.

Early Career Planning

High school preparation should include courses in basic mathematics, typing, and English. Computer literacy is needed since most of the work involves use of a computer. Since strong verbal and written communication skills are also desired, courses in public speaking and business writing are also helpful. Foreign language classes may be helpful because of the growing international clientele. Some Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) may offer introductory courses in hotel and lodging careers. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Certification

Certificates available for Hotel Desk Clerks include the Hospitality Skill Certification for Front Desk Representative offered by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. A certification can demonstrate to an employer that the Desk Clerk has additional skills and knowledge beyond his or her experience. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Accommodation 96.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks.

  • Bed and Breakfasts and Inns
  • Corporate Lodging
  • Hotels
  • Lodging
  • Motels
  • Resorts

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Large hotel and motel chains may offer better opportunities for advancement than small, independently owned establishments. These chains may have more extensive career ladder programs and may offer Desk Clerks an opportunity to participate in a management training program. Additionally, the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute offers home-study or group-study courses in lodging management, which may help some Hotel Desk Clerks obtain promotions more quickly.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
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Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
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Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee ShopProfile
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Food Servers, NonrestaurantProfile
Receptionists and Information ClerksGuide
Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel ClerksProfile
Telephone OperatorsProfile
Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket TakersProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification43-4081
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks43-4081.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CES
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Selling Skills and Sales Operations 521804
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Sales and Salesmanship050940