The qualities of a great restaurant host

Career and personal development
restaurant host looking at wine


What makes a great host or hostess?

As the first person a customer meets when they walk through a restaurant’s door, a host or hostess is one of the most critical positions within hospitality. They often control the entire flow of the restaurant and can set the tone for the diners’ complete experience, ensuring that they walk away with only positive things to say.

A host or hostess job is a great option for both entry-level and experienced hospitality staff. If you’re starting out, it’s a great introduction to the industry, offering a way to learn about every element of restaurant operations. For the more experienced, it’s a chance to build on your organisational, problem-solving and customer service skills, while perhaps also taking on a managerial position.

If you’re looking for a host or hostess job in London, there are certain attributes that will encourage ongoing success:

Friendly

It goes without saying that a host must be friendly. Every customer should be welcomed with a smile and their requests attended to in an efficient manner. As the first point of contact, you are setting the scene for what’s to come, so you should aim to make every guest feel important and comfortable at the same time. What’s more, nothing should be too much effort – a great host will endeavour to say ‘yes’ to every request!

Work well under pressure

On a busy Saturday night, where there could be anything from 30 to 300 covers, a host is the puppet-master pulling the strings, responsible for ensuring a smooth experience for every part of the restaurant. Therefore, a great host will be able to work well under pressure, anticipating problems before they rise to accommodate the needs of each guest. They often work under the radar, proactively co-ordinating with other members of staff to present solutions – without the guest even realising there was a problem in the first place!

Confident

As the first impression of a business, a host or hostess in London must appear to be confident, speaking with conviction and assuring customers throughout their dining experience. You should always lead from the front, making direct eye contact and opening with a greeting, instead of waiting for them to approach you. Avoid looking down at a screen when the guests approach you – a warm and confident welcome can make a huge difference to the guests’ personal experience!

Well-spoken

Communication is essential across any hospitality role, but it’s especially important in a host or hostess job. Therefore, a great host will be well-spoken, articulating themselves clearly and effectively, both in person and on the phone. You should be able to adapt your communication style to the audience and situation, responding to situations calmly and without delay.

setting tables at restaurant

Adaptability

As a restaurant host, no two days are the same so it’s essential that you can roll with the punches, keeping a cool head in difficult situations. From missing reservations to delayed orders, there is plenty of room to go wrong, so working with your team to find a suitable solution – often at short notice – is a valuable skill.

Presentable

As a host or hostess in London is representing the restaurant as a whole, it’s vital that you look presentable at all times. This means maintaining a neat appearance, with tidy hair, polished shoes and clean clothes. Should you be provided with a uniform, make sure that it’s ironed and clean before starting your shift!

Attention to detail

The difference between a good and a great dining experience can be found in the detail. As a host, you are responsible for ensuring special requests, such as dietary requirements and special occasions, are carried out efficiently. A complimentary glass of champagne for an anniversary, or printing a gluten-free menu, are the small touches that can elevate the experience. Taking notes of these details for return customers can also make a huge difference – remembering a regular by name, or reserving their favourite table, will have customers returning time and time again.

Team player

No restaurant runs with just one staff member, so if you are looking for a host or hostess job, you need to be able to work well with others, collaborating to provide the highest levels of service to your guests. Whether communicating special dietary requirements to chefs, or jumping onto the floor when the wait staff are overwhelmed, being able to work well in a team makes a host one of a restaurant’s most valuable players.

Should you be looking for a host or hostess job in London, make sure you submit your details to Tiger Hospitality. We have a wide range of roles available in restaurants across London.

Author Natalie Reason Tiger Recruitment Team

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