Working as a host or hostess in a restaurant or event venue is a multifaceted role that sets the tone for the overall customer experience. Whether you're trying to figure out how to describe the duties you performed in this type of job, or you're tasked with putting together a job description for your company, you'll need to start by considering the key responsibilities and skills necessary to succeed in the job.
Examples of Common Host/Hostess Responsibilities
A host or hostess is usually the first point of contact for customers, whether they are calling to ask questions or to make a reservation, or they are entering the facility to be seated. As a result, hostesses focus on tasks related to handling customer's needs in a manner that fits appropriately into the facility's workflow. Tasks commonly performed by hosts/hostesses include:
- Answering the telephone and handling or directing calls appropriately
- Taking reservations for individual parties and large groups
- Properly recording reservations in a centralized database or list
- Greeting and welcoming customers as they enter the venue
- Inquiring about the number of guests who need seating
- Determining if parties have any special requirements for seating (for example, some groups may need a booster seat for a child or a table that will accommodate a wheelchair)
- Ensuring customers who have reservations are seated promptly upon arrival
- Adhering to defined seating procedures by following specified policies and procedures
- Assigning customers to tables based on the restaurant's seating policies and procedures
- Managing a waitlist for parties once tables are full
- Expediting seating for customers who have been waiting once a table becomes available
- Walking customers to their tables, providing menus, and letting them know who their server will be
- Notifying servers when customers have been seated at their tables
- Providing assistance to servers and other staff members as needed
- Informing restaurant management of any customers who seem dissatisfied or disgruntled
- Answering customer questions, such as how to get to the restroom or if parking is validated
- Acknowledging customers as they are leaving in an upbeat way
- Coordinating with valet attendants on behalf of customers if valet parking is available
- Handing prepared takeout orders to delivery drivers and customers who have ordered takeout
- Ensuring the reception area remains presentable at all times
Job Skills Required to Succeed as a Host/Hostess
In addition to describing a position's essential duties, a job description should also include a list of required skills. For a host/hostess job, such skills include things like:
- Communicating effectively with customers, servers, vendors, and other employees
- Maintaining a positive, upbeat tone with customers, including those who may have concerns or complaints
- Interpreting and correctly applying policies and procedures for how tables are assigned
- Connecting with customers to set the stage for a positive experience in the restaurant
- Prioritizing among multiple job requirements to create the best overall customer experience
- Understanding and being able to use restaurant industry terminology
How to Describe a Host or Hostess Role on a Resume
If you have worked as a host or hostess and need to write or update a resume, you'll need to come up with the right words to describe exactly what you did. Reflecting on the list of responsibilities above can help you determine what to include. The approach you take will vary based on the environment in which you work. Review the example wording below for inspiration to help you decide how to combine the key tasks from your job into a proper resume format.
- Celebrations Restaurant, Any City, NC. Host (April 2019 - present). Weekend evening hostess at busy casual dining restaurant. Provide standard hostess duties during peak restaurant hours when there is often a one-hour wait for a table. Primary duties include: greeting customers with a smile and seating them promptly if a table is immediately available; informing customers of how long of a wait to expect and encouraging them to stay; managing a waitlist using electronic buzzer devices that notify customers when tables are ready. Interacting with customers who are waiting, to reassure them that progress is being made. Keeping the waitlist updated to determine accurate wait times. Reinforcing customer's decision to wait and thanking them for their patience throughout their wait and when they are seated.
- Local Diner, Small Town, WV (June 2017 - present). Hostess in a locally-owned diner that focuses on serving "meat and three" meals to busy workers during their lunch breaks. Speed is of the essence to meet customer needs, so duties focus on expediting customer seating with maximum efficiency. Key responsibilities include greeting customers, seating walk-ins until tables are full, managing a hand-written waitlist, providing menus to customers who are waiting to improve table turn time, interacting with servers and bussers to know the moment tables are freed up, and escorting customers to tables so there is no down time.
- Chez Chef, Elegantville, CA (December 2018 - September 2021). Host for a fine dining establishment that accepts reservations and hosts many special occasion dinners. Responsibilities included overseeing table and group reservations, ensuring that guests were properly greeted, welcomed, and escorted to their reserved area immediately upon arrival. Also greeted and worked proactively to accommodate customers who did not have reservations, providing seating as available and providing accurate wait times when all tables were allocated to reservations.
Host/Hostess Jobs Involve Important Duties and Skills
Hosts and hostesses do a lot more than just seating people who come into a restaurant for a meal. A lot of the work they do is behind the scenes, but that doesn't mean that it's not essential. Just as with the many duties that servers perform, restaurants wouldn't be able to operate smoothly without the efforts and talents of hosts and hostesses.