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Reservations Clerk


You're heading out to visit your relatives in Boise, but you're running late. There is only one bus running today, and you need to get on it if you want to see your family. You show up at the bus station, panting and breathless, just as the bus is revving up to head out. The bus is jammed with people, but, luckily, you called ahead and reserved a ticket, ensuring you a spot on that bus. Without a reservation, the bus might have driven off without you!

Reservations clerks work for bus companies, airlines, railway services, restaurants, hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, tour companies, and sightseeing groups. They are the people who ensure we get a spot on the whale watching boat, a seat on the plane to Fiji, and the best table at La Palette for dinner. They may work exclusively as reservations clerks with large hotels, airlines, and bus companies, but may also function as front desk clerks, receptionists, or ticket takers with smaller organizations. In small establishments, they may also be the owners.

They use computerized systems to book reservations, access client information, and complete financial transactions. They need to be organized, patient, and thoughtful, with pleasant phone voices and a calm, methodical approach to tasks.

Reservations clerks are important, because they are often the first, and only, connection the public has with an organization. Though the world is becoming increasingly computerized, and human interaction is becoming phased out in a number of service environments, chances are there will always be people working as reservations clerks. When calling to book tickets, rooms, or services it is nice to be greeted by a friendly face or voice on the phone, one that is understanding, patient, and kind.
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Grand Canyon University
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
In order to become a reservations clerk, one needs to be patient, calm, and work well under pressure. They need to be a naturally polite person, who is warm, approachable, and a good listener. They should be tactful, organized and have a methodical approach to tasks. Being a "people person" and enjoying helping and serving others are necessary qualities.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Reserve services, rooms, and tables over the phone and in person
  • Use computers, cash registers, and credit card machines to make reservations and complete payments
  • Communicate regularly with other front desk staff, housekeeping, management, kitchen staff, and security
  • Maintain an inventory of reservations
  • Respond to questions, comments, and complaints posed in person and over the phone
  • The typical day for a reservations clerk involves a lot of standing, smiling, answering the phone, listening, and smiling some more. A reservations clerk may do as little as book rooms and plane tickets, or as much as arrange tours, supervise assistants, take payment, and advise people on sights, restaurants, and other tourist options. The tasks depend on the size and location of the establishment. Reservations clerks get to meet a lot of different people, from all over the world.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Reservations clerks work wherever there are rooms, tables, or services to reserve. This includes hotels, motels, hostels, YM/YWCAs, bed-and-breakfasts, guided tours, restaurants, airlines, bus lines, and for railway companies. They work shifts, usually six to eight hours at a time. This can include weekends and holidays, depending on the employment situation. Reservations clerks often work standing for long periods of time, and often work alone. However, larger establishments might have two or more staff working at once.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Reservations clerks can become supervisors of other clerks, front desk clerks, or managers of motels, hotels, or restaurants. They can buy or start up a restaurant, hostel, hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast. They can become cruise directors, travel agents, tourist information officers, or tour guides.

  Educational Paths  
Experience working with people in the service industry, such as at a hotel, retail store or restaurant is an asset for aspiring reservations clerks. As for education, one should consider taking a college course in hotel and tourism management, business administration, or a general bachelor of arts. Programs that offer internships provide students with education and experience. Basic knowledge or one or more major languages, like French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, or Cantonese will be of benefit to any individual looking for work as a reservations clerk.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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