Baggage porters and bellhops are the driving force behind the hotel industry. These individuals work hard behind the scenes to make visits convenient and enjoyable for customers. It is their responsibility to carry guests’ bags and escort them to their rooms while maintaining a professional attitude and meeting quality standards. Baggage porters and bellhops also act as customer service representatives. They deliver mail and messages, explain points of interest, perform valet services, run errands, provide laundry services, supply travel information and recommend entertainment attractions.
This field also offers a wide range of specialization areas. Baggage porters work outside hotel lobbies checking in luggage before handing them off to the bellhops. Porters work in airports and cruise liners unloading bags from private cars and taxis. Baggage checkers work in airline terminals or bus stations as clerks checking to make sure all bags meet travel regulations and standards. Baggage handlers work in train stations inspecting bags to make sure that bags are appropriately marked and are heading towards the correct destination.
- Job positions require very little training prior to entering the industry.
- Workers must be physically fit as job requires carrying, lifting and transporting heavy objects.
- Employers prefer candidates with strong communication skills.
- Advancement opportunities are driven by experience, seniority and performance record.
Work Environment for Baggage Porters and Bellhops
The work environment can be physically strenuous as there is frequent heavy lifting involved. Bellhops work mostly indoors in more sophisticated, luxurious environments and have more direct contact with people. Baggage porters work more outdoors and have less direct contact with people. Baggage porters may sometimes be exposed to severe weather conditions. However, on-the-job injuries are extremely rare in this field.
Baggage porters and bellhops usually work in morning, afternoon or night shifts during a 35-to-48 hour work week. Certain establishments hire on a part time and seasonal work basis. Weekend and holiday work is a frequently required. Full-time workers may join the Hotel Employee and Restaurant Employees Union which offer many benefits for its members such as free uniforms and laundry services.
Education, Training and Licensing
There are no formal education requirements prior to entering this field. Typically, a high school diploma or GED is the main qualification for these positions. Employers look for applicants that are responsible, physically fit and have a clean appearance and positive attitude. The most common method of landing a job in this field is to apply directly to the employers of airlines, bus stations, hotels, and passenger ships. Baggage porters and bellhops acquire the skills required to work in the field upon employment. The training period usually lasts one to two weeks before trainees are ready to work without supervision.
Baggage porters and bellhops who have an outstanding work record, display leadership and develop a good rapport with customers, guests and management will enhance their full-time employment opportunities. Advancement opportunities are limited to the size of work staff and place of employment. Seasoned baggage porters with a good work record may get promoted to head baggage porter or become a desk clerk. Only the top, experienced bellhops who prove their merit may be promoted to bell captain, superintendent of services or advance to a front office position.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 49,380 people working as baggage porters and bellhops as of May 2009. The BLS projects a 7% increase in employment in this field through the year 2018. This indicates a steady growth of job prospects for incoming professionals. This is attributed to the number of positions that become available throughout the year as high school and college students that work part-time leave the industry.
BLS records indicate that the mean annual income for baggage porters and bellhops was $23,580 in May 2009, with the middle 50% of professionals in this field earning around $20,060. While the bottom 10% made $15,560 or fewer, the top 10% of the bracket had an annual income of $38,700 or higher.