Hotel Bellhop and Porter
Hotel Bellhop and Porter
Education and Training: On-the-job training
Salary: Median—$8.69 per hour plus tips
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Bellhops and porters usually work in hotels rather than motels. Like all employees in the hospitality industry, their main goal is to make sure that the guests enjoy their stay. In some hotels the duties of bellhops and porters are similar; however, bellhops usually work inside the hotel, whereas porters work outside.
Bellhops carry guests' luggage, show guests to their rooms, and make sure that everything in the room is in order. They check the lights, ventilation, and heating and show guests how to use the air conditioner, television, and telephone. If any equipment is not working properly, bellhops report this to the maintenance department so that it can be repaired as soon as possible. Bellhops may also give guests information about the hotel and local tourist attractions, deliver packages, run errands, and bring food and drink orders to guests' rooms. They also carry luggage for guests who are leaving.
In large hotels bellhops are supervised by a bell captain. Bell captains give the bellhops their assignments, train new bellhops, record the bellhops' hours for payroll, and handle complaints made to their department.
Like bellhops, baggage porters handle baggage and suitcases. They deliver luggage to a guest's room on request and, when the guests are prepared to leave, arrange to have the bags shipped and carry them to the loading platform. Porters mail important papers and packages for guests and sometimes run errands that take them away from the hotel—buying tickets to a theater or sporting event, for instance.
Housekeeping porters do heavy work such as arranging furniture and rolling up rugs. They set up displays for conventions and sales meetings, sweep and mop floors, and dispose of trash. The head porter's job is very similar to that of a bell captain. Head porters maintain employees' time records, conduct interviews, and hire and train employees. To ensure that all porters get a fair share of the work, head porters assign the calls equally among the employees.
Education and Training Requirements
Most employers prefer to hire individuals with a high school education. Beginners usually receive up to one month of on-the-job training. Physical strength is needed to be a bellhop or a porter. Candidates should be able to get along well with people and take pride in providing services for others.
Many bellhops and porters start out as elevator operators. Most large hotels hire only experienced workers. Prospective bellhops and porters can gain that experience by starting out in a small hotel.
Getting the Job
In the hotel industry promotions usually come from within, meaning existing employees with a good work record have opportunities to advance from entry-level positions. Elevator operators and other entry-level hotel workers are often promoted to the position of bellhop or porter. Interested individuals should apply directly to the manager of a hotel that interests them. State employment offices may also provide job listings for bellhops and porters.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Bellhops and porters typically start out by working in small hotels to gain experience, then transfer to larger, more luxurious hotels where they will receive better tips. A good work record and a high school education increase the chances of advancing to other jobs within the hotel. Those who have clerical skills may become mail, room, or desk clerks. A bellhop may become a bell captain, and a porter may advance to the position of head porter. Because there is usually only one bell captain or head porter in a hotel, the chances of becoming a supervisor are limited.
The hotel, motel, and resort industry is expected to grow faster than the average through the year 2014. Motels usually do not employ bellhops or porters; however, a number of large hotels are slated to be built throughout the United States by 2014. These new hotels and the growth in business travel and tourism should create an additional demand for bellhops and porters.
The work bellhops and porters do can be exhausting. They must lift and carry heavy luggage, and they are on their feet all day. Bellhops are required to wear uniforms and must be well groomed when they are at work. In some hotels porters wear their own clothes. Bellhops and porters must be helpful and willing to do things for others. Not all hotel guests are easy to please, but bellhops and porters must be able to get along with all kinds of people.
Bellhops and porters usually work eight-hour shifts. Because their services are required twenty-four hours a day, they must be able to work evenings, weekends, and alternating shifts. Many bellhops and porters belong to labor unions.
Where to Go for More Information
The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
2810 N. Parham Rd., Ste. 230
Richmond, VA 23294
Earnings and Benefits
It is difficult to determine how much bellhops and porters earn. Their salaries depend largely on the tips they receive from guests and the geographic location of the establishment in which they work. Those who work in large luxury hotels, including casino hotels and resorts, make more money than those who work in smaller hotels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bellhops and porters earn a median salary of $8.69 per hour before tips. Hotels usually offer benefits including insurance plans, paid vacations, and free meals during work hours. Hotels also furnish and maintain uniforms.