|You Can Learn English for a Hotel
Imagine that you have just arrived at a hotel after a tiring 7-hour
overnight flight. At the front desk, the staff person welcomes you,
gives you a warm smile, confirms your reservation quickly and hands you
your room key. They tell you the complimentary breakfast is still being
served in the dining room.
You now feel completely at-ease, thanks to a hotel receptionist who did
their job well.
Front desk staff are available for direct communication with guests all
day, every day. They reserve rooms, check guests in and out, respond to
all kinds of questions and resolve complaints. They may also recommend
places to eat and shop and sights to see.
People travel for many reasons, and tourism is one of the biggest. In
2018, 1.3 billion people traveled overseas as tourists, according to the
U.N. World Tourism Organization.
Whether traveling abroad or domestically, hotel guests often decide if
they will stay at a hotel again based on their interaction with hotel
And hotels around the world have at least one other thing in common:
They use English as their lingua franca – Hotel English, to be exact.
So, what exactly is Hotel English?
It is polite spoken English that includes a lot of hotel terms and
expressions. For example, a receptionist might say, “Welcome to the
Potomac East Hotel. How can I assist you today?” and other expressions
many times each day.
But, a hotel staffer’s day is never routine.
Guests make a range of requests. That is why a good ear for spoken
English in a range of accents and speeds is critical to the role.
All in all, Hotel English is nothing to fear! Hotels generally offer
training in what to say and how to respond. And, usually, perfect
English is not mandatory. The staff are instead expected to be effective
communicators and offer outstanding service.
Mona Faal has been working in the hotel industry for nine years, first
in Iran and then Washington, D.C. She has worked for the Hilton and
Graham Georgetown. Currently, she works at the front desk at the Hyatt.
She joins us in person to talk about language she uses on the job and
give advice to those interested in the profession.
ALICE BRYANT: Mona, thanks for being with us today.
MONA FAAL: Thank you for having me.
AB: Can you start by telling us some of the things you enjoy most about
MONA FAAL: I would say the most enjoyable thing in my job: You can see
different people every day. And, sometimes, they are coming with -- as a
family. And, they are [excited] to be there. And, when you are nice to
them, they appreciate you. And I really enjoy this feeling. I always
appreciate them as well.
AB: Oh, great. Great. And, you have the opportunity at the place where
you work now to talk with people from all over the world, right?
MONA FAAL: Exactly. They are coming from everywhere – from Europe, South
America and any state. Because of this job, you can see the people from
around the world. And the people has a different job, like some of them
working in NASA, some of them are working in military. And, this is
really interesting. This is really enjoyable.
AB: Oh, very nice. Next, we’re going to do something fun. So, imagine
that I’m arriving at the front desk as a new guest*...
Taking a Reservation
MONA FAAL: Hi, good afternoon. How can I assist you?
AB: Hi, how’s it going? I’d like to make a reservation for today until
Thursday. Do you have any vacancies?
MONA FAAL: So, what kind of room you looking for? Are you looking for
king or double queen? Or we have king suite as well.
AB: I just need something with a simple bed. But, I’m hoping to have a
room with a nice view.
MONA FAAL: Okay, the thing is…yeah, right now we are in middle of the
city. But I try to find a nice room for nice view and quiet room. Is it
important to be far away from elevator?
AB: It’s better if I’m not near the elevator.
MONA FAAL: Okay, so let’s look up our occupancy for tonight. And you
said what’s your departure date's going to be?
AB: So, today – Monday – until Thursday.
MONA FAAL: Okay. So, our rate for tonight it looks like $219 before tax.
Is it ok for you if I go ahead and make you a reservation?
AB: Okay, and what’s included in the price? Do you have a gym? Do you
have a pool?
MONA FAAL: Yes, ma’am. Our hotel has a 24-hour gym. We have a pool,
which is 10:00 to 10:00 – from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. And we have two
restaurants at the hotel which is one at the rooftop and it’s open every
day except Sunday. And our restaurant here at the third floor, it’s 24
AB: Oh, great.
MONA FAAL: Okay, so I’m going ahead and make your reservation with this
rate. Could I have your ID and your credit card as well?
AB: Sure. Here you go.
MONA FAAL: Okay, thank you. I’m going to put your information at the
system. And, let’s find a nice room for you...
I’m going to give you a catalogue which is all hotel information there.
You can find any restaurants nearby and some more information about the
check-in/check-out time. And If you need any map of the area, it’s right
behind you. If you need any tour for D.C., we have concierge here from
morning until 6pm.
And let’s go ahead and check you in. Thank you for staying with us. And
let’s give you the room number. There is a keypad at the elevator. You
need to tap your key first and after that press your floor.
AB: Okay, great.
MONA FAAL: Is there anything else I can help you today, ma’am?
AB: Yes, actually, I would like a wake-up call tomorrow at 7 a.m.
MONA FAAL: OK, Ms. Alice, I’m going ahead and put the wake-up call for
you. I’m here until 11. If you need anything else, I’m Mona, I can help
you as well, OK?
AB: Thank you so much. Great.
MONA FAAL: Enjoy your stay.
AB: Thank you.
Advice from the Field
AB: What advice would you give to non-native English speakers who are
interested in a job as a front desk person?
MONA FAAL: So first thing I would say: If you have a chance to be a
volunteer and just watch, just listen to the people who is working.
…If you got this opportunity, just listen. This is the things I do a lot.
Sometimes I’m just listening too – because, in my hotel right now, not
everyone is American. Everyone has accent.
…And the first thing that’s really important at the front desk: You
can’t be a shy person and be at the front desk.
AB: So would you say you have to be a people person?
MONA FAAL: Exactly! You should be really really nice with communicating
with people because you going to see a thousand different people. And,
they are tired. They are coming after a trip, sometimes after a long
You should understand probably they’re not always in a good mood with
you. Try to be like the people who can communicate with every kind of
AB: So, you have to be a people person, a good communicator, you have to
MONA FAAL: Exactly. Another thing I would say, you should have a good
memory, too, in this job. This is the job you should be multitasking and
doing a lot of things at the same time and you should have a good memory.
AB: OK, that’s great advice. Very good. Well, thank you so much again,
Mona, for being with us today.
MONA FAAL: Thank you. Thank you for having me.