What is the role of a hostess?

May 7 2016 (updated September 9 2020)
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When working as a hostess, your duties may include helping to manage marketing campaigns (by advertising products or services), gathering data (polls, petitions and sales leads), providing information and guiding the guests of business events (trade fairs, conferences, open days), and assisting the organisers of entertainment events (banquets, sporting events, etc.).

A hostess can be employed for a wide variety of tasks. Promotional campaigns are the starting point for most. There, they gain experience leafleting and distributing samples, and that enables them to later engage in more complex assignments, particularly when working trade fairs and banquets. When looking through the options below, you’ll notice that – contrary to a model – a hostess needs to work with her skills, rather than her looks. The key qualities for any hostess, regardless of her task, are openness, social skills, confidence, and flexibility. An ideal hostess is fully aware of her duties and how to carry them out, while her presentable appearance and professional outfit simply complete the image.


Leafleting – as the name suggests, it usually entails distributing leaflets – whether it’s out on the streets, in shopping centres or at trade or mass events (music festivals, sporting events). Leafleting can be your only duty, but it can be accompanied by other related tasks. Occasionally, leafleting is stretched to include distributing other kinds of printed materials – such as business cards, booklets, coupons, catalogues or even newspapers.

Tasting – you’re tasked with promoting food products and beverages by handing out samples. Tastings usually take place in supermarkets or during food industry trade fairs. The products sampled can range from tiny, simple snacks all the way to complete dishes, prepared on the spot in „live cooking” sessions. If you want to work in tasting, you’ll need a valid sanitary-epidemiological certificate.

Sampling – similar to leafleting, the main difference is in the things you’re distributing – no longer leaflets, but either samples of products (perfumes, cosmetics, drinks, etc.) or branded gadgets (hats, pens, sunglasses, etc.). Sampling is common at trade fairs and roadshows. When you are tasked to conduct sampling, you are provided with a bag or a cart of products, and you might receive the additional assignment of making an inventory of the products, which basically means counting the products before and after the action.

Animating – this is a task specifically for promotional staff. An animator needs to convince the customer to make a purchase of a product by presenting its parameters and function, while strongly highlighting its advantages. Animating requires an in-depth knowledge of the product and being able to use it properly, but what is equally important is the ability to comfortably and energetically lead the conversation with the customer, and, should the animation be a group event, the ability to speak in public with confidence.

Launching – this may involve opening a new store or releasing a new product. Working at a launching event requires proficiency in all the tasks mentioned above, as well as some skills needed for business events (see below). Launching is also a moment for models to shine, since they are in high demand to pose for photos with cars, yachts, or high-end electronics.

Roadshow – it’s a travelling method of promoting brands, products or pieces of art. Its scope can range from a handful of cities to several countries. If you want to sign up for this task, you need to be prepared for relentless pace, sleeping away from home and many hours on the road. However, it’s not all bad – it can be quite an adventure, and a tight-knit team can leave you with very fond memories, especially after a season of summer beach events!


Polls – simple, but effective tools for collecting opinions and suggestions or testing knowledge. As an pollster you will receive a paper or electronic questionnaire, with questions targeted at a particular group of people. The polls are usually anonymous, which does not mean that you aren’t handling personal data – for statistical purposes, questions might include their age and gender, city they live in, education, and even income. Polling actions are launched both out on the streets and in institutions, for which the polls have been tailored (shops, banks, offices, etc.).

Petitions – unlike polls, these can have a formal impact on changing laws or protecting important values. In Poland, a law on petitions dictates the collected data required in a petition document – a minimum of a name, surname, address and signature, sometimes PESEL number and contact information. Therefore, signed petition documents need to be carefully processed and stored – they need to be inventoried and transported in dedicated secure envelopes. Petition actions are usually performed on the busiest streets, sometimes in shopping centres.

Leads – purely commercial collection of personal data of people who might be interested in a particular product or service. Gathering sales leads accompanies larger promotional campaigns or business events and is a valuable source of new clients for numerous companies. Using paper or electronic forms, you usually collect e-mail addresses and phone numbers, along with the associated name and surname, and occasionally an address. A person submitting their personal data automatically agrees to have them processed for future contact (mailing lists, telemarketing, etc.).


Trade fairs – prestigious displays of products and services from various businesses, with the purpose of establishing a relationship with the customers. The largest trade events in Poland take place in Poznań, while the grandest in Europe – in Frankfurt, Germany. Trade fair hostesses need to tend to a diverse array of tasks, both those typical of promotional campaigns (leafleting, tasting, sampling, animating) and those specific to a given stall: welcoming the guests, gathering sales leads, serving coffee and snacks, translating, posing for photos. A hostess at a trade fair ought to look presentable, be appropriately outfitted and know the necessary foreign languages.

Conferences – here, attendees trade in information and debate various subjects. They take place in dedicated conference centres, but also in hotels or at universities. Conferences are often accompanying events to trade fairs; therefore, the impeccable presence, appropriate outfit and knowledge of foreign languages is equally important for a hostess here. At the core of a conference hostess’s duties are “reception desk” tasks, such as welcoming and registering the guests and handing out IDs and welcome packs. Additional tasks include giving directions and assisting the speakers (handing them the microphone, giving rewards, etc.).

Open days – a popular form of introducing people to a venue they typically don’t have access to. The form of open days is widely used by schools and universities, but also by developers, who get the chance to show off residential buildings or entire neighbourhoods, even before they’re admitted for use. Hostesses on open days perform similar functions to those on conferences – they welcome and register the guests and give directions. Occasionally, they operate the cloakroom and make sure the venue is tidy.


Banquets – held in banquet halls, company headquarters or public buildings (theatres, philharmonics, etc.), they serve as a celebration of important events. On such events, hostesses need to be dressed in elegant evening wear, and show impeccable manners. Their duties include the usual reception (similarly to conferences), but also giving directions and waiting tables. On occasion, a banquet is accompanied by a dance party, where hostesses can dance and encourage guests to join others on the dance floor. This ensures that even the people who usually shy away from dancing can gather the courage to enjoy themselves!

Sporting events – there, hostesses serve a largely representative function – they reinforce the image of a sports team, particular contestant or sports venue. When working a sporting event, you’ll certainly be posing for photos, handing rewards to contestants and presenting the sponsors. Some disciplines are known for the presence of specific hostesses, who are given a nickname particular to the sport – car racing has “grid girls”, bike racing – “umbrella girls”, cycling – “podium girls”, combat sports – “ring girls”. A sports hostess can also assist in organisation, e.g. with registration, controlling the planned schedule, cheering for the contestants, and operating food spots.

Music festivals – a favourite among most hostesses, you can work and listen to the music of your beloved artists at the same time! The main duties of festival hostesses include sampling, that is distributing gadgets or product samples, and gathering opinions and sales leads. Sampling can be a hostess’s only task, or it can be an element of operating the sponsor zones, where they also welcome and register guests, encourage to use attractions, clean up and even animate activities for kids. Recruitments for concerts and picnics are incredibly popular among event staff, so the selection process is very strict –the most experienced and active staff members have the greatest chance to get in.


The modelling business always stirs up a lot of emotions, and the leaders in the field are widely known and often enjoy the careers of actors or singers, as well. This side of modelling is managed by international agencies and banks of faces, specialised in selecting and guiding the careers of models. Working as a hostess, provided you have features that are judged desirable in the modelling business, can be a pretty good starting point to get a foothold in modelling – even if only locally. You can gather experience as a model by posing for photos (various photoshoots), acting (advertisements and music videos), modelling clothing collections (fashion shows and showrooms), presenting trends in hairstyles (hairstyle shows), promoting assortment in stores (“living mannequins” are gaining popularity). The work of a model is based on appearance; however, contrary to what people might think, it can be painfully demanding (just imagine several hours of walking on high heels or boiling under the hot beams of studio lamps). You will need a lot more than appearances to succeed.

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