Magazine article Management Today

The Sharp End: Hotel Doorman for a Day

Magazine article Management Today

The Sharp End: Hotel Doorman for a Day

Article excerpt

It's hard on the feet, but Rhymer Rigby likes the job's meet-and-greet social side.

My day as a doorman started badly. I went to the wrong door - the one at the Marriott County Hall, occupying the impressively large former seat of the Greater London Council. There, the doorman on duty directed me to the right door, that of the Park Plaza County Hall round the corner. It was an apt introduction to the job: much of a central London doorman's day involves redirecting lost tourists - and being very nice about it, too.

The Park Plaza is a standard four-star hotel with a decent view of the onetime home of Red Ken's brigade. Concierge Andrew sent me to change into my doorman's kit. This consisted of black trousers, a kind of morning-suit jacket and a turquoise shirt open at the collar. The effect was a bit '80s-bartender-meets-country-wedding. But regular doorman Marc looked pretty spiffy in exactly the same gear. It's not the clothes, I thought, it's me.

Suitably attired, I walked out to join Marc. We were standing on a busy road just south of Westminster Bridge. Opposite was a hive of activity, as a funky modern sister hotel arose in place of one of Britain's ugliest buildings. Good news for the area, but it meant that Marc had been working in front of a noisy building site for a year. Ten minutes in and I noticed something else: if you're not used to standing in one place, it's hard work. Shoulders, back, legs and feet soon start feeling the strain. Oh yes, said Marc, the first two weeks are hell on heels After that it gets better, but two shifts back-to-back is always a killer.

As we stood, Marc explained that the hotel guests were a mixture of businesspeople and tourists who wanted somewhere central but reasonably priced. Our first hour was spent bringing the odd suitcase in and tagging luggage, saying hello and giving lost tourists (guests and non-guests) directions. Doormen are an invaluable public service for the geographically challenged.

I'd thought standing around might become a bit boring, but a doorman quickly gets to know his regular passers-by. We talked to a cabbie who'd broken down, we waved at bus drivers, we spoke to fellow staff and even shot the breeze with a convincingly attired Darth Vader and a Johnny Depp lookalike in Pirates of the Caribbean garb, both off to work as human statues at Waterloo station (now that's a standing-still challenge). …

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