CAREER GUIDE Friday, September 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India
Manning from the front
Sanjay Austa
IRST impressions they say make lasting impressions. Therefore, the front office staff occupies an important position in the hospitality industry. They are not only the first people any guest interacts with when he or she enters the hotel but they remain a permanent point of contact for the guests throughout their stay.



Manning from the front
Sanjay Austa

FIRST impressions they say make lasting impressions. Therefore, the front office staff occupies an important position in the hospitality industry. They are not only the first people any guest interacts with when he or she enters the hotel but they remain a permanent point of contact for the guests throughout their stay.

Every hotel has a different nomenclature for the front office staff. Some call them guest service agents while same others call them guest service officers. But in the hierarchy of positions in a hotel, the front office job is very basic. No fancy degrees or diplomas from hotel management institutes are required, though these are a help. All that one looks for in a front office staff are good communication skills, a pleasing personality and the right attitude. Though this is a job where one starts at the very beginning, there are cases where people have gone up to being general managers of hotels.

The front office job is essentially for anyone who likes to meet new people. This job gets you in touch with not only people from your own country but from countries all over the world. From behind counters you get a ringside view of the different accents, mannerisms, habits, and idiosyncrasies of the guests of different countries. And while you help these guests around the hotel, there is an immense opportunity to learn about their culture.

According to Mr Karan Singh Rai, a Lobby Manager who started out as a front office executive in a five-star hotel in Mumbai, manning the front office is a very important job. "The front office is the first and the last point of contact for the guests", he says. He believes that along with a pleasing persona, the front office staff must have good general knowledge too." The guests call up for all sorts of information. They want to know not only about the hotel, but also about the city in which they are staying, its attractions, the site and the scenes, monuments, etc. Therefore, the front office executive must be well informed and not cut a sorry figure", he says.

Ms Mridula Chintamani, Room Revenue Manager of Maurya Sheraton, Delhi, who also started out as a front office executive, believes that an extrovert nature is a prerequisite. "As a front office person, one must love to meet people and talk to them.

And one must have an inexhaustible patience and an ever smiling face", she says.

For all these reasons the front office staff is put through an induction programme for over 10 days by the hotel to acquaint them with the hotel and its policies. They must know every shop, restaurant and the smallest detail of the hotel. Each hotel also has a one-hour briefing every day for this purpose. A 500-room five-star hotel employs around 20 front office executives.

The front office is open round the clock. Therefore, those manning it work in shifts. Most hotels have a home-dropping facility for their female employees working beyond 8 pm and for everyone after 12 at night.

Though the front office staff works in the air-conditioned environs of the hotel, this is one job where one cannot sit." One should be able to stand for over seven hours a day", says Mr Deepak, a front office executive working in a Delhi five-star hotel.

One also has to grin and bear surly, aggressive and rude customers. "The customer is the king. We have to smile at them even if they are rude", says Shilpi, another front office executive.

The front office executive can become a supervisor in a year or two depending on his aptitude. From a supervisor he can become a Lobby Manager in over five years-again depending on his aptitude. This is the first senior post where he finally gets to sit.




VJs — a new breed of stars

Q I am very keen to become a VJ. Please tell me how I could become one and what is the job all about?

— Satinder Ahluwalia

A The advent of music channels (MTV, Channel V, B4U) has not only ushered in a new genre of entertainment, but also created a new breed of stars - video jockeys or VJs as they are popularly called. And there are perks that come with the job: instant recognition (millions of teens look up to VJs as icons and trendsetters), loads of travel (including to exotic locales), meeting interesting people and the best part of it all is that you are paid to do it.

And handsomely, at that. The packet at start can range anywhere between Rs 30,000-50,000 p.m. And there’s no upper ceiling to what you can earn if you click with the viewers. An exciting profession, veejaying involves anchoring music shows, interacting with live audiences and interviewing celebrities - all of which require the gift of the gab and screen presence. Adlibbing and thinking on your feet is germane to this job. The more talkative and original you are the better.

Channels are always on the lookout for fresh talent. Auditions are held round the year (MTV and Channel V VJ Hunt are regular annual features). But in the absence of formal training, how does a VJ-hopeful make the first move? You have to groom yourself on your own, watch all TV shows, improve your diction and body language. Grab every opportunity to MC college and local musical and entertainment events to overcome stage-fright. Even try your hand at radio jockeying if you get a chance.

When you are ready, approach a channel with your portfolio and sign up for an audition.


Q I want to do BA in History from IGNOU. Could you please explain the admission criteria?

— Tushar Dhiman, Karnal

A Depending on your academic qualifications, you could choose from two modes of entry for Bachelor’s degree programmes (BA, B.Com and B.Sc) at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).

Eligibility for the regular Bachelor’s programmes, including BA (History) is a pass in Class XII. The programme has a total of 96 credits, which can be completed in a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 8 years. For the Non-formal Open University Graduation Programme (3`BD years) you should be 20 years old, but need not possess any formal qualifications.

You will be admitted only after clearing the entrance test. The programme is offered both in English and Hindi. For further information, log on to the university’s website:

Govt job

Q I am keen on a government job. How should I go about it?

— Sheela Chaudhry, Muktsar

A You must decide, first of all, whether you want to work in the Central Government, or the state government or the municipality or other agencies of a semi-governmental nature (development councils, district-level bodies, etc).

Name the qualification or specialisation (from programmer to administrative assistant to HR specialist) and you can bet there’s a slot for it in one or the other department!

Although the diversity of jobs in the government (or public service) is truly immense, all government budgets today are suffering from tight constraints.

So if you go through the traditional route to government positions (Civil Services Exam, State Public Service Exam, etc), you must be prepared to face very stiff competition. For instance, nearly 1.75 lakh candidates who take the CS exams each year compete for the 350-odd seats.

And the intake is likely to shrink further in the coming years.

To get an idea of the various positions and exams log on to: and your state government’s website.

— Pervin Malhotra, Director, CARING

Please send in your query preferably on a postcard along with your name, complete address and academic qualifications to: Editor, Query Hotline,  The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020, or at




1. Name the two public sector oil companies whose disinvestment process was recently stayed by the Supreme Court.

2. Where was the WTO ministerial meeting held recently?

3. Name the only Indian woman athlete to have won a medal at the World Athletics Championships.

4. In which year did Havildar Abdul Hameed lay down his life for the country while fighting Pakistani armed forces?

5. Name the Prime Minister of Israel.

6. Which railway terminal in West Bengal was recently closed to traffic for the first time in 150 years for upgradation?

7. Name the producer of the film ‘Chokher Bali’.

8. On which continent is the country Guinea-Bissau situated?

9. Name South Korea's most powerful typhoon on record that caused widespread death and destruction in the country recently.

10. Expand NTPC.

11. Which United Nations organisation recently warned children against overexposure to sun that may lead to skin cancer, cataract and other health problems?

12.Who won this year's men's USOpen singles tennis title?

13. Name the women's singles champion in this year's US Open tennis tournament.

14. Which former Indian cricket captain, under whom the country registered its first Test victory against Australia in 1959-60, died recently?

15. What is the new name of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka?

Name.......................Class..School address.................

Winners of quiz 189: The first prize by draw of lots goes to Kartik Thapar, IV- B, DAV Public School, Jagadhari Gate, Ambala City. Second: Sandhya, Class XII (non-med), Govt Sr Sec School for Girls, Gurdaspur-143521.

Third: Abhilaksh, XI, Sangrur Public School, Sangrur.

Answers to quiz 189: Master Tara Singh and Baba Kharak Singh; Isaac Newton; Idi Amin; Dr RA Mashelkar; Rail India Technical and Economic Services Limited; Mars; Rajasthan; Enola Gay; Port-Au-Prince; South Asia Preferential Trade Arrangement; Hyderabad; Holland; 7-4; Pete Sampras; Guru Nanak Dev University.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

— Tarun Sharma