So You Want to be a Restaurant Host/Hostess

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Many hotels and resorts are gearing up for the busy summer season and are looking for talented, friendly employees that love to take care of their guests. We have two four-star hotels in Savannah, The Mansion on Forsyth Park and the Bohemian, and between the two hotels, I counted 33 open positions. They ran the full gamut of hospitality jobs in all functional areas.

There is a false impression that hospitality service jobs are “so easy, a caveman can do it.” Well, I pulled one of those open positions, a Host/Hostess, just to see what kinds of skills were required for a hospitality job. Instead of just a friendly smile, there was a whole list of skills and attitudes required for the position. If you are looking to breaking into the hospitality industry and enjoy an exciting, diverse career and some great travel and lodging benefits as well, here are some of the duties and skills or experience you would need to be considered as a host/hostess:

1. Scheduling reservations, parties or special services. This takes a lot of organization, attention to detail and great listening skills. In order to plan an occasion for a guest, you would need to ask the right questions and really listen and then record all the details.
2. Work with other members of the restaurant staff. How are your team skills? Adaptability? Flexibility? Can you defer your own way of doing things and consider the merits of another idea? 3. Greeting guests, escorting them to tables and providing menus. While this seems like a “no brainer,” you need to be 100% directed to the guest, make some small talk, and know the etiquette of seating and distributing menus. I’ve had servers throw them on the table, upside down. I’ve gotten lunch menus at dinner. Small errors that make big impressions on the guest.
4. Adjust complaints of guests. If you are person who does not like confrontation or problem-solving, this position is not for you. As the first person who encounters the guests, you may be called on to help with a customer complaint. There is a skill involved in fact-finding and resolving a complaint without placing blame or becoming defensive.
5. Inspect the dining room for cleanliness. Instead of chatting with the service staff between seating guests, the host/hostess makes sure the next guest arrives at a clean, neat table. You need a good eye and understanding of the restaurant’s service standards and table setups. You also have to be able to communicate effectively with the service staff if something is not up to par and has to be quickly corrected.
6. Prepares beverages and expedites food orders. How quickly the drink orders are served is a measure of how the rest of the service will go. The host/hostess has to be aware of every order and help orchestrate service to the tables. This takes a lot of concentration and a sense of urgency to make sure the guest is happy.

This position isn’t just a matter of “smile and hand out little devices that blink like space ships when it’s time to be seated.” Each job requires professionalism and a special love of service to be successful.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and helping clients discover what they love and spend their life on it. You can read more of her blogs at and view additional job postings on Nexxt.

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