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International Receptionists' Day

A receptionist is often the first person a client or customer will meet when they arrive at a company, and they are the ones who have the task of making a positive first impression on whoever walks through the doors. Taking place on the second Wednesday in May, the purpose of International Receptionists' Day is to "foster a recognition of the importance of a receptionist's role," "promote pride and professionalism amongst receptionists for the important role they play within an organization," "give receptionists an opportunity to share stories and link up with other colleagues around the world," and "give employers an opportunity to shine a light on their receptionists and celebrate their achievements across their businesses."

The day started out as Receptionists' Day, being created by Jennifer Alexander of the National Receptionists Association, "to recognize the special role that receptionists play and to distinguish their skills from the admin or secretary." It was first observed in 1991, exclusively in the United States. In 2012, Rapport, a provider of reception services in the United Kingdom, brought the holiday to that country. It became International Receptionists' Day in 2016, after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia joined together to mark the day. Canada, Ireland, and other European countries have since joined in observation of the day.

A receptionist works in an administrative support or office position. They usually work in a lobby or at a front desk of a business or organization, where they greet visitors, clients, or patients, and then point them in the right direction. Regardless of what behavior a visitor is exhibiting, receptionists must maintain a calm, professional demeanor. Receptionists may also answer phone calls, respond to emails, distribute mail, set appointments, take part in record keeping and filing, and play a role similar to a security guard. Receptionists at hotels may also be called front desk clerks and may perform additional duties like guest registration, key control, and mail and message service. Secretaries and administrative assistants are not considered receptionists unless they work on the frontline. There are over one million receptionists in the United States, most being employed in legal and medical offices.

How to Observe

The aim of the day is to recognize the importance of receptionists, promote pride and professionalism amongst them, give them the opportunity to share stories and connect with other colleagues, and give employers the opportunity to celebrate their receptionists and their achievements. The day should be observed by working to achieve these goals, and both employers and employees—those who are receptionists and those who are in other positions—can work to do so. One way to get on a path towards this is to spread the word about the holiday to colleagues at your company and to encourage them to do the same.

There are other ways you could mark the day. You could check on Rapport's International Receptionists' Day website to see if competitions are being held as in previous years. Their website also has posters for the day. You could also watch their Facebook and Twitter pages for information about the day.

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