The Hotel Experience

It’s been a fabulous eight months and I do mean that in the most flamboyant of senses. In retrospect – 20/20 of course – it would have been interesting to have blogged about it, but when one works on shifts, on one’s feet all the time, and getting home when one’s time is late and exhausted, one never really knows the freedom of planning ahead enough to type a blog post about the days.

The thing is that little snapshots of what it is to be in a hospitality job are more readily shown by Instagram or Twitter. They are little one-liners or photos of tired-but-happy staff together at the end of a shift. They are an understanding of what goes on behind the doors of hotels from those who do all the hard graft to keep the hotel running.

In fact, you can find my thoughts under #hospitalitytales.

I suppose that’s why we never see the staff side of hotel living. Except in those 9-to-5 type sales job. That itself exemplifies the issue that the people who (probably) have the most interesting things to say about the hotel are the ones who work extra cover shifts and end up going to bed at 3 in the morning or other, much-antisocial hours.

They simply don’t have the time to explain how exactly they are interesting.

Even so, I would have loved to have given snapshots of my days— the good mostly, but also the bad and the bizarre. It’s one of those professions where every day is the same (but aren’t most jobs, otherwise there would be no point in a job spec?) but with a different set of people.

What I mean is that you’re never sure what sort of guest is gonna walk in through the door. There are millions of unique people in the world, so the combination of genetics and personality could be anything. Are they going to be chatty? Are they going to see you as an employee not a server? Are they a good fit for what the hotel offers?

So many of these questions always bothered me at the start of my shift.

I’ll admit that it caused anxiety at first, but then as I grew into the job – grew to understand my part in the company and what more-than-the-mundane-description I could offer in my role – I no longer started my shifts with anxiety but with interest and wonder.

We Hosts live the life of the in-between. We are not quite part of the restaurant staff, yet no quite part of the rest of the building complex. We don’t quite get to have a full conversation with the guests and yet they don’t realise how much they rely on us, our information. To serve – that’s what it’s like to work in hospitality and there are a dedicated few for whom that works for their lives.

The funny thing is that I have a tendency to have an adverse reaction to good news. Half an hour after I got the offer to work as a Host, I was sobbing. I’d been told by the hiring manager that I would not last because I preferred not to work Sundays due to my faith. Not discrimination, just me making it awkward for everyone. Again.

It’s a funny thing, you see, because I applied for a part time role and less than when probation was over (3 months) I was already applying for other hospitality jobs (Event Coordinators and the like). In fact, you need longer than three months in a hospitality post to convince someone that you know the industry. ‘cause that’s what it’s all about: convincing.

Instead, it’s one of those moments through which you have to barrel. And even if I hadn’t been such a good fit, their need for Hosts was greater than my lack of experience. (Though, did I tell you about that time I worked at Legoland? Great talking point for many a front of house role.) That’s how you get a first job. That and blagging it. A word which here means accentuating even your smallest of skills.

I’ll say one thing about being a hospitality employee down in the ranks, the many of us are there are in the world: it’s brutal. Not matter how much you try and serve and please your managers, bosses, and the guests, you’re always at the mercy of other people. It’s all too easy to get an action wrong unfortunately.  They may say that there is training and schemes in place for you, but a hospitality role takes its toll – on physical and mental health if one is not careful.

So, that’s what it’s like in the hospitality world. It had its ups and downs, and I still wish I had made the opportunity to document these moments more.


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