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What is a Bellman?

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Bellman Duties and Responsibilities

A bellman is also known as a bellhop, doorman or porter. A bellman is a hotel employee primarily in charge of transporting the luggage from the car to the hotel room and back. A bellman may also load or unload luggage from the car, store luggage for the guests, help guests with packages and find lost luggage. After the guests check in at the front desk, the bellman will escort the guests to their hotel room. The bellman should tell guests about the rooms’ features as well as the services that are available in the hotel.

A bellman also may perform other duties, like packing/unpacking luggage, maintaining the luggage cart, hailing taxis and opening doors. The bellman may also deliver documents or packages to the hotel rooms. At many luxury hotels, the bellman is expected to greet all guests by name. The bellman may also help other hotel departments like maintenance, front desk and housekeeping if they are short-staffed.

A bellman may wear a formal uniform with dress pants and a jacket, or they may wear informal short-sleeved uniform shirts, depending on the weather and the hotel’s dress code. Normally, the hotel pays the bellman by the hour, but some hotels offer benefits for full-time positions. Depending on the state, a bellman can also join a union.

Changes in the Bellman’s Role

When a hotel hires a bellman, it wants its guest to enjoy a higher level of service. However, the hotel bellman’s role has changed over the years. Many guests prefer not use the bellman, with the advent of wheeled luggage. Some luxury hotels have changed the role of the bellman. Some hotels now train staff members to look at guests’ body language before approaching them about extra services. Some younger luxury travelers prefer high-tech perks like high speed wireless Internet and iPods over old-school perks like a bellman carrying their luggage.

The interaction between the guests and the bellman has also changed. For the most part, the overly deferential and formal service of the past has been altered to be more casual and friendly. The hotel wants the bellman to communicate effectively with guests and to be an effective brand ambassador.

Tipping Etiquette

Most hotel staffers are paid by the hour, so any tips for good service are welcomed. In the US, people generally tip a bellman about $1 to $5 a bag, although many travelers tip more for exceptional service. Guests without small bills can go to the front desk or gift shop to ask for change.

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