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Front Of House

What does a Front Of House do?

Front of house staff welcome guests as they arrive. They are usually the first members of staff that a new guest meets and they must give a good impression, acting as ambassadors for a company or organisation. Their main role is to welcome visitors or clients, take details and assist them with initial problems or enquiries. They work in all kinds of locations, including businesses, hotels and restaurants.

The duties of front of house staff may involve:

  • greeting visitors and directing them
  • managing the visitors book
  • answering enquiries in person, by phone and on email
  • providing or sending out information
  • managing a booking system
  • providing refreshments
  • preparing bills and taking payments
  • using a computerised system to update and check information
  • keeping the reception area tidy.

What qualifications do I need?

Although formal qualifications are not always required as front of house, it is useful to study a course as employers may favour a person with a qualification. Some employers offer on-the-job training and may also encourage studying a course in a more specialised area. A course such as hospitality management or public relations can be an advantage. IT skills like word processing and the ability to use the internet and email are also helpful.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Computer Applications
• Accounting
• Hospitality Studies
• Mathematics


Where can I study?

The Private Hotel School
Various courses

Northlink College
Advanced Diploma: Hotel and Restaurant Management

INTEC College
Certificate: Hotel Reception

NQTAC Hotel School
Certificate/Diploma: Reception Operations and Services

Boston City Campus and Business College
Various courses

Sam Hospitality Academy and Consulting
Course: Hotel Front Desk

Drumbeat Academy
Hospitality Training; Hospitality Reception Training

IHT Hotel School
Diploma: Hospitality Management 1

Durban University of Technology
Various courses: Hospitality and Tourism

College of South Africa
Hospitality Courses

University of Johannesburg
National Diploma: Hospitality Management

Where can I get more info?

Southern African Hospitality Industry – www.fedhasa.co.za
Association for Office Professionals South Africa – www.opsa.org.za


Interview with a Front Of House

Zelda Petrus | FRONT OF HOUSE SALES | Steenberg Estate

Zelda Petrus | FRONT OF HOUSE SALES | Steenberg Estate


Why did you choose this profession?
Well, the profession chose me really, which I call a blessing in disguise. I started appreciating wine while listening to a lady, Anita Anelli, presenting a wine-tasting at Steenberg. I was a cleaner in the tasting room at the time. She has probably been my biggest inspiration and contributed greatly to my success. When I talk about her, I refer to her as Steenberg’s ambassador!

What training did you undergo?
I did an introductory wine course through the Cape Wine Academy and did a lot of in-house training.

How did you fund your studies?
Steenberg Vineyards funded my studies – I was lucky in that sense.

Is there a type of personality best suited to your job
Absolutely. You need to be an extrovert, have excellent product knowledge and patience. You need to love what you do and be a good communicator so that clients can fall in love with your product and have a memorable experience at your farm.

Experience versus formal training?
I believe they go hand in hand, you gain valuable experience whilst dealing with customers.

Describe a typical day on the job
There’s no typical day. Every day, the whole day we are extremely busy since we produce such fantastic and exclusive wines and that translates into having a constant influx of customers entering our facility.

What aspect do you love the most?
To entertain guests by informing them about the history of the farm, as well as the wines, which consist of Premium, Super Premium and Ultra Premium wines.

What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
The highlight of my career was undoubtedly the nomination and winning of the Great Wine Capitals’ prize for the Best Presentation of Wines, which took me to a part of the world that I had only dreamt of visiting – California, USA. During this recent trip, I stayed in beautiful surroundings just outside San Francisco in an area known as the Napa Valley. Another highlight was when we, as a team, sold R64 000 worth of wine in one day during December 2010.

Future goals?
To become a wine educator and tour guide promoting the wines of Constantia Valley.

Any advice for youngsters?
No matter what capacity you start your career off in, always have a goal. We all have choices. You either stay where you are or reach for the stars. Hard work does pay off in the end. Most of all you need to have patience, lots of it! My happiness is not determined by the circumstances or situations I find myself in, but by the choices I have made in life. I believe I have made the right choices and can only grow from here if allowed the opportunity to do so.