Hostess Job Description
Hostesses are greeters at restaurants and similar establishments. They welcome customers and lead them to their individual seats or to an area such as the bar. Concerned with the overall experience of patrons, they also may monitor the facility for cleanliness, assist with food delivery or bill payment and talk with customers both socially and to address concerns.
Restaurants, lounges and other places hire hostesses to provide a positive first impression and to coordinate seating. They are expected to dress appropriately and maintain a courteous demeanor in order to reflect well on the employer. Hostesses are on their feet much of the day and need to be able to move regularly from the front of the building to other sections. Because of their importance in the hospitality industry, demand for Hostesses is expected to increase 4 percent through 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, with more than 28,300 annual projected job openings.
Hostess Duties and Responsibilities
Hostesses are expected to perform various tasks to keep the facility pleasant and running smoothly. An analysis of job listings shows these core responsibilities as important:
Hostesses are the first people customers see upon arrival, so a warm welcome and casual conversation sets an upbeat mood.
Hostesses ask questions in order to put patrons in the proper place. They may need to find out how many people are in a party and their seating preference (such as booth vs. table, bar area vs. main floor). In addition to these considerations, Hostesses also are aware of how people are distributed throughout the facility. This knowledge ensures wait staff aren’t given too many or too few customers and also assists with noise levels. Before leaving seated customers, Hostesses oftentimes hand out menus. Pointing out specials and taking beverage orders may be part of their job too.
When seating isn’t available immediately, Hostesses record the name and number of guests for each waiting party in the order of arrival. This contributes to flow management and minimizes disputes between customers.
Depending on the set-up, Hostesses may answer phones or check online reservation systems to obtain information on forthcoming diners and plan accordingly. They also may offer directions and provide information on menu options and pricing.
Customers with disabilities may require special accommodations or assistance. Young diners may need a high chair or a coloring book. From pointing out temporary seating while waiting for a table to providing directions to the washroom, Hostesses are there to assist.
Hostesses often serve as the final person with whom customers have contact before departure. Inquiring about their dining experience demonstrates interest and provides insight into things that may need to be changed in the future. This exchange oftentimes occurs by the cash register in places where Hostesses are in charge of handling bill payment.
A successful Hostess tends to be a “people person” who can comfortably interact with anyone who comes through the door. Thus, a naturally friendly demeanor and an energetic commitment to customer service will serve applicants well. Other desirable qualities include:
- Staying calm, since customers can be demanding and sometimes irate
- Multitasking to fulfill the needs of both employers and patrons
- Talking in a clear voice
- Maintaining professionalism in dress and action
- Communicating effectively to settle problems and ensure maximum customer satisfaction
- Listening and carrying out instructions given by management
- Observing the environment for a sense of how things are going and addressing potential pitfalls such as dirty tables or too much sun coming through the blinds
- Assisting flexibly as situations demand, such as pitching in to serve food or clean a spill
Tools of the trade
As they perform their role, Hostesses employ a variety of tools. These ones are among the most common:
- Seating Chart – A diagram of the facility showing openings in which to put patrons
- Waiting List – An electronic or manual compilation of parties needed to be seated
- Phone – To answer inquiries from potential customers, accept reservations and take to-go orders
- Menus – Besides distributing them, knowing the offerings can be helpful
- Cash register – Bill payment duties may involve handling cash, making change and processing credit cards
Hostess Education and Training
The vast majority of Hostesses hold a high school diploma. Roughly half have some college experience or a degree on their resume. While their higher education coursework may not directly pertain to their hostessing duties, eager learners often catch the eye of hiring managers since the position involves on-the-job training.
The median annual salary for Hostesses, categorized by the BLS as “Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge and Coffee Shop,” is close to $20,000. Hostesses in the 10th percentile earn about $17,000 a year, and the highest paid make in excess of $28,600 a year. Hostesses in District of Columbia, Nevada and Vermont make the highest median salaries in the U.S. – $24,450, $24,140 and $24,010, respectively.
Is becoming a Hostess right for you? Learn more about what it takes with these informative resources:
Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop Host and Hostess Career (Special Edition): The Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview & Getting Promoted by Anne Johnson – From what Hostesses do on a daily basis to assessing whether your personality is suited to the job, this paperback is a great place to start when considering a career in this sector of the hospitality industry.
Careers in the Restaurant Business by Institute for Career Research – Where do Hostesses fit in among the many careers in the restaurant industry? This book offers vocational guidance for prospective applicants.
Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter by Edmund Lawler – Want the inside scoop on what it takes to operate a successful restaurant? Renowned restauranteur Charlie Trotter knows all about the importance of customer service. His tips and insight can help Hostesses anywhere develop into superstars.
National Restaurant Association – The Careers section on the website of this leading industry organization offers information on training, education, scholarships and the future of working in the restaurant business.
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