Night Shift: When the whole world goes to sleep, but you just begin your day!

Is this job about watching Netflix series? Or getting the tasks done while everyone is asleep? Even better, how about dealing with late check-ins or unruly guests? Prepare yourself a cup of coffee and get ready to learn more! Let’s get you straight in the life of what I like to call a “night-owl”!

Having done night shifts for over a year, I would strongly recommend anyone who wants to grow within the hotel industry to have this experience. This job teaches you a lot more than you can think of.

What are the tasks and responsibilities of a Night shift?

Many to start with! It varies between types of hotels but usually, the duty timings are from 11 pm until 7 am. Larger hotels that are associated with a brand often have several roles under Night Shift. For example, a Night Manager, a Night Auditor, a few Night Housekeepers, and Security Guards. Smaller properties have all of these roles combined into one! So, if you’re in a standalone property with rooms fewer than 50, oftentimes you have to don the role of a Night Auditor, a Night Manager, and a Housekeeper at the same time.

In general, the night shift has similar tasks to their daytime colleagues. It mostly involves checking guests in and out, responding to calls and emails, preparing the housekeeping checklist for the upcoming day, going for rounds around the property, helping and assisting hotel guests, and if there is something wrong with a room, try to fix it. Additionally, some hotels also require you to perform a night audit and close the day in the system. In some cases, you may also have to deal with overbooked guests and find them a hotel nearby or walk them over.

What is a typical night at work?

The shift usually starts with a quick handover from the previous shift (mostly the afternoon/ evening shift). This is where you get to know about what happened during the day, who is expected to check in later in the night, and anything concerning about guests who are presently staying in the hotel. The previous shift usually explains everything or leaves a note in the handover so you’re well prepared to handle any untoward circumstance.

When you finally settle in for the night, you start by preparing the “arrival list” of guests who will be checking in the next day. You must take into account any special requests, room upgrades, payment status, or early check-in. If your hotel serves breakfast, you must also pay attention to any specific dietary requirements from guests who will be staying over.

In between your tasks, you must go for rounds where you can see if everything is in order and if there is a guest who is still awake and, if they are in the reception, you can do some casual chit chat to keep it lively!

Is Night Shift underrated?

To be honest, yes. As most people prefer working during the day to have an evening free for themselves with their family and friends. However, I believe everyone must get experience working at night as this is where you can perform your tasks and duties without any interruptions. 

Working on the night shift also means you have the time to observe issues that require maintenance, prepare reports for the next shifts and learn as well as train your fellow colleagues. There is still a guest relations component and sometimes you may have to handle problematic situations while keeping your cool and having a smile on your face!

What are the situations I am likely to face in a Night Shift?

Though it is not possible to pinpoint the exact situation which you might face, most commonly night shifters usually face a couple of common situations like:

  1. Drunken guests creating a commotion in the lobby
  2. False fire alarms
  3. Guests playing loud music in the rooms which often annoy neighbouring guests
  4. Issues within the room: like clogged bathroom, no electricity, bad Wi-fi connection, etc
  5. Request to set up early breakfast for guests who depart very early
  6. Security issues, and the list goes on!

But at the end of your night shift, you feel more empowered to handle such situations than a daytimer, who might just call someone else to fix it. Night shift makes you think and take care of problems by yourself, as you’re the one responsible for all the guests and the entire hotel! This is why it is very important for people who want to develop within the industry to have worked in this role. 

Is there still room to grow and impress the management if you work the night shift?

Absolutely! With fewer team members and fewer guests to manage, you have a higher focus, and your productivity increases. This is where you have the opportunity to impress and be a valuable team member. Never be there to just receive a paycheck, but, be the person who is passionate about making the shift as successful as possible. 

When you have some free time, request more tasks or come up with initiatives for yourself or your team. You may also want to ensure the daytime shift functions smoothly by making sure they have all the reports and requests in order. With that comes communication and consistency of relaying information. There is a lot that you can do to ensure the service quality remains the same, as guests don’t care if it is 3 am or 3 pm.

Doing rounds also help you identify any areas of improvement to offer a better experience for the guests. Think of yourself as the General Manager for the night – as most of the time you are free to take decisions as per your will and keeping the best interest of the guest and the hotel in mind.

And what about any spooky stories?

You will always have one colleague who thinks the hotel is haunted or there are some abnormal things going around at night. But this is what burns the fire within you and makes the job even more interesting every day!

5 valuable tips to help you survive the night shift

  1. Maintain a balanced diet: Do not eat food that will make you sluggish during the night. This involves avoiding junk and food with high fat content.
  2. Sleep and rest well prior to your shift: Organise a daily routine where you go home and sleep immediately or wait until the afternoon and then go to bed. 
  3. Remain active: While you are at work, try to remain active. This may involve going for rounds, standing and working instead of sitting on the chair, doing some casual chit chat with guests or colleagues or learning something new about the hotel every day!
  4. Stay hydrated with water: Remember to frequently have water as it helps you stay fresh and alert.
  5. Avoid caffeine before the end of your shift: If you’re used to that morning cup of coffee, its time to slowly let it go! Having coffee just before your shift ends might disrupt your sleeping pattern and make you restless. Instead try to have a cup of chamomile/ lavender tea, it works wonders!