Imagine yourself going on vacation in some faraway land.
You get off the plane at the airport and find your way to a hotel.
You walk in the door, and who’s the first person to greet and welcome you with a friendly smile?
Yes, that would be the hotel receptionist, one of the first people you’ll meet when you land in another country or city. This is why a hotel receptionist has such an important job.
The role of a hotel receptionist involves communicating with people from different countries and cultures, who often speak very different languages. So how do you help them and prepare them for a wonderful trip?
Today we’re going to start by looking at why learning English is so important for hotel receptionists.
Later on in the post, I’ll discuss 20 English expressions that all hotel receptionists must know to be able to communicate with every international visitor that walks in the door.
But before that, let me give you an amazing tool so you can improve your English in a fun and immersive way: FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.Whatever your needs, FluentU has a video for you. Give it a free try and see for yourself.
And now, let’s welcome some guests!
Why Should Hotel Receptionists Learn English?
Just look at how busy airports are these days and you’ll realize how popular international travel and tourism has become. It’s common for people to simply hop on an airplane and cross the planet for vacation or business, any time of the year.
In fact, according to Statisca.com, the international travel industry has grown from 528 million tourist arrivals in 2005 to 1.19 billion in 2015. It’s expected to hit 1.8 billion by 2030.
Now that’s a lot of international visitors you’ll be welcoming to your city if you’re a hotel receptionist.
And as a receptionist, you need to be able to communicate with all of these travelers. You’ll be checking them in and out of the hotel and answering questions about your local area.
Does that mean you need to speak every language on the planet? Fortunately, no. But you do have to be fluent in English because English is the lingua franca—the common language people all over the world use to communicate with each other.
Learning English is an efficient way to be prepared for any conversation with almost any guest at your hotel. This won’t just make your day-to-day life easier—it’ll also make you more valuable as a hotel employee.
20 English Expressions Every Hotel Receptionist Should Know
For all you hotel receptionists, here are the most commonly used expressions you’ll need to communicate with your international guests.
As a hotel receptionist, your job isn’t only to greet guests but also to make them feel welcome. A friendly smile and a warm greeting make a great start.
Hello, welcome to [name of your hotel].
Here’s a standard greeting you could use. Instead of a simple hello, you could also say good morning, good afternoon or good evening depending on the time of day the guest walks in.
How can I help you today?
You can ask your guest this simple question at the beginning of their visit, or at any time during their stay.
For a guest who’s new to your city, knowing that you’re there and ready to help will make them feel right at home.
Most guests make their reservations online. However, if they’re unable or unwilling to do that, they may make their reservations by phone. If that’s the case, here are some standard questions you might ask:
What’s the date of your arrival?
Ask your guest when they’re planning to arrive and check into the hotel.
When are you planning to check out?
You’ll also need to ask when they’re planning to leave or check out of the hotel.
How many people is this reservation for?
You’ll need to know the size of the group or number of people to reserve rooms for.
What type of room would you prefer?
Some guests may have a preference for a certain type of room. Ask if they’d like a room for one person (single) or two people (double).
Some hotels offer different types of rooms for guests who don’t smoke (non-smoking rooms) and rooms with views (for example, ocean view/sea view, mountain view or lake view).
Checking Guests In
Do you have a reservation?
This is one of the first things you will ask a guest when they walk up to the reception desk. Not all guests have reservations. Some simply walk in and ask for a room.
What name is the reservation under?
If the guest has a reservation, find out the name of the person it’s under (associated with). That way you can pull up their information on your computer screen.
Could I have your ID and credit card, please?
When checking in, hotels usually require the credit card of the guest and some form of identification (ID) like their passport or driver’s license.
Using the modal verb could will make you sound more polite and professional.
Your room is on the [number] floor, room number [number].
Tell the guest which room they’ve been assigned (given). For instance, you might say:
Your room is on the 9th floor, room number 925.
Breakfast is served from [time] to [time] every morning at/in [location/room].
Many hotels provide a free breakfast to guests every morning as part of their stay. If this is the case at your hotel, inform your guest about the time and place where they can enjoy the breakfast.
So you might say:
Breakfast is served from 6 to 9 a.m. every morning in the dining area.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
This is a customer-friendly question you could ask after assisting a guest. In case they need more information or assistance, let them know that you’re always there to help. This is a good question to keep in mind.
Enjoy your stay.
Be sure to wish your guest a pleasant stay after you check them in.
Giving Information, Offering Assistance and Handling Complaints
A big part of your job as a hotel receptionist is to make guests feel at home and well taken care of during their stay. You’re the person guests come to for information, assistance and yes, even complaints.
We have [scheduled services] that run to/from [location]. You’ll find [information] in/at/by [location].
Hotels often offer arranged transportation services like buses and tours that guests can use freely to travel to locations like the airport, local tourist attractions and shopping areas. These two statements are useful for informing your guests about these services. Feel free to adapt them to suit different situations:
We have a shuttle bus service that runs to the airport from here. You’ll find the shuttle schedule by the front door.
We have city tours that run between here, Disneyland and Universal Studios. You’ll find brochures of all our city tours to the left of this lobby.
To get to [location], just…
Guests often ask for directions on how to get to a certain location either within the hotel or outside. This statement can easily be adapted to suit different situations.
To get to the gym, just go down this hallway and turn left. It’s the second door on your right.
To get to the nearest McDonald’s, just cross the street outside the hotel and walk straight.
I’m sorry about that. Let me see how we can fix that right away.
Your guest might mention (…or, yell) something they’re unhappy about. Maybe their towels need changing or their TV isn’t working.
With the polite expressions above, you can apologize to the guest (even if it’s not your fault) and offer to fix the problem.
If you need anything else, please let us know.
Here’s another customer-friendly expression to let your guests know they can always contact you if they need help with anything else.
Checking Guests Out
Could I have your room number and key, please?
When your guest is ready to check out, start by asking for their room number and key. Here again, use the modal verb could to sound more polite.
Your total is [amount]. How will you be paying for this, please?
Let them know the total amount for their stay and ask them how they prefer to pay. Some guests may prefer to pay by credit card, others may pay with cash, etc.
Your total is $243. How will you be paying for this, please?
Thank you and hope to see you again soon.
This is a great way to say goodbye, thank your guest and send them off on a happy note. If they’re continuing their vacation to another location, you could add: Enjoy the rest of your vacation. If they’re leaving for home, you could add: Have a pleasant trip home.
If you’re a hotel receptionist or hoping to become one, you’ll find this list of expressions useful as you set out to welcome visitors who’ve come from all over the world to visit your country.
Remember, practice makes perfect and the more you practice using these expressions, the more confident you’ll become.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.