Event hostesses create a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests and event attendees. Hostesses work at a wide variety of venues and social functions, including art gallery events, restaurants, wedding receptions, fund-raising efforts, conferences and trade shows. They greet and direct guests upon arrival, provide them with information they need and answer other questions as best they can. Other hostess responsibilities can include acting as a spokeswoman or emcee for the event, coordinating with organizers, other staff members or featured guests--such as managers, artists and caterers--and mingling among the crowd to make sure the event is on track and people are enjoying themselves.
Because there are so many different types of social functions--everything from lectures and art exhibitions to trade shows, poetry readings or wine tastings--there are many types of hostesses, with different responsibilities and specialties. They all, however, concentrate on making guests, attendees and participants feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. A guest’s first and last impression of an event will often be his interaction with the hostess. Hostesses must have confidence, a friendly attitude that helps them relate to all types of people and the ability to speak knowledgeably about the event they are hosting.
Hostesses spend most of their time entertaining people--or making sure that they are entertained and enjoying the event. Hostessing is best suited to women who are comfortable with and can easily relate to people of all backgrounds. Although they may appear at times to be guests--such as when they are conversing with people--hostesses are at the event or venue to work and to make sure others enjoy themselves. They must remain polished and poised and never behave as though they are guests themselves. This means always being polite, never dominating or interrupting conversations and, of course, never drinking to excess if alcohol is served at the event or venue.
Event hostesses often work long, irregular hours, including late nights and weekends. The work is fast-paced and physically demanding--they're on their feet almost constantly and frequently hurrying back and forth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, event hostesses who promote products or host trade shows travel frequently. Events are often hectic and crowded and involve standing or walking for long periods with little opportunity to rest or eat. Event hostesses should be in good physical shape and be able to travel on short notice, walk long distances--often back and forth across large venues--and tolerate heat and sometimes boisterous crowds.
To do their job effectively, hostesses must maintain effective working relationship with other event workers, featured guests, organizers and other involved parties. At a catered corporate function, for example, hostesses may discuss the schedule with event planners to ensure activities go as planned--oftentimes having to change plans on the fly as conditions change. At functions where food is served, hostesses must get along well with waiters, bartenders and other staff members, including sometimes temperamental chefs. If these working relationships aren't amicable, the whole event may be far more difficult and less successful than it should be. It's also good for a hostess to have outside connections--similar to those of a concierge--so that she may easily arrange transportation for guests or connect them with accommodation or other services they may require.
Education and Training
There are no universal educational requirements for event hostesses, and the level or type of education sought by employers varies by the type of event. For example, a hostess at an art exhibition should likely have some knowledge of art. All hostesses are going to have to learn on the job at some point, but many educational institutions--from major universities to vocational schools--offer degrees and certification in subjects that can serve hostesses well in their work, such as hospitality management, business administration and event planning. Training in social etiquette and entertaining at a finishing school may also be good preparation. And specialized education will benefit those who hope to work as hostesses at particular types of events, such as those related to the arts or fashion.
Compensation for event and other types of hostesses can vary widely. According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hosts and hostesses at full-service restaurants averaged $18,940 annually, as of May 2009. The bureau reported that hostesses in the travel accommodation and amusement and recreation industries averaged $18,180 and $21,140 a year, respectively. Event promoters in the advertising and public relations industries averaged $24,290, according to the bureau. The type of employer--whether a regular business, such as a restaurant, or a promotional company--management structure and event types affect salaries. Beyond wages and salaries, however, there are many perks and benefits for hostesses, including access to events and useful and potentially lucrative connections.