How long have you been in the hotel industry? Six years.
Tell us a bit more about your career journey. I first started out as an intern at a boutique hotel with only 80 rooms. At boutique hotels, you get to experience working in every department, so I picked up a lot of things during my internship. Then I moved to Pan Pacific Singapore, my first luxury hotel. I’ve been here for a total of five years.
Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? My main responsibility is helping guests check in and check out of the hotel. When new reservations come in, I have to prepare the rooms. I help with VIP arrangements and meetings. I also meet guests if there are complaints or issues and I have to resolve them immediately. Recently, I got promoted to a supervisory position so there are more responsibilities like training new staff.
What made you decide to join the hotel industry? I don’t see myself in a desk-bound job. I prefer working in a fast-paced environment. In the hospitality line, you tend to move about a lot so time seems to go by quickly. Every day seems like a new challenge to me and of course, I like meeting people – it is one of the things I’ve always enjoyed and wanted to do.
How do you ensure service excellence in what you do? When you serve guests, it has to be genuine. While it may not be stated in your job scope, I don’t look at it that way. When I talk to my guests or attend to their requests, I try my best to accommodate their needs to improve their overall experience.
What is it that you enjoy most about what you do in your role? I enjoy meeting guests from all around the world, listening to their travel experiences and especially the ones who still remember me when they check out. They would usually tell me how their stay was. If they had come from other countries, they would tell me how amazing Singapore is. It’s fun to listen to the stories about their stays in Singapore.
Can you tell us more about winning Receptionist of the Year 2018?
I didn’t intend to participate, but my Front Office Manager persuaded me to give it a try and nominated me. For this award, hotels all over Singapore compete against one another in various categories. The first round involves sharing more about yourself and the hotel you work in. Next, they’ll set up an interview and you have to do a presentation. After winning the Receptionist of the Year Award, it made me realise that I can actually do so much more, that there are many opportunities for me in the hospitality industry.
As the winner of the local competition, you get to travel overseas and compete for the David Campbell Trophy on the international stage, which was held in London this year. They’ll test you in role play situations – and determine how effectively and fast you solve the issues brought up by guests. There’s also an examination which tested hotel knowledge like procedures at the hotel reception, and general information on Singapore’s tourist attractions and history. I got to meet contestants from 13 different countries while in London.
How did you do in the international round? I didn’t win the international round but it provided me with great exposure. In Singapore, it’s very fast paced – when the guests want something resolved, I strive to complete the task quickly. But when I was in London, I learned that speed isn’t the only or most important factor I have to consider, and we must also show sincerity and concern when dealing with guests’ problems.
How does it feel like representing Singapore on the international stage? I feel proud because there were 55 hotels that participated in the local round and I managed to come up tops in Singapore so it was something amazing for me. But when I was in London, it was not so much about winning. It’s more about getting to know more about the international hotel industry.
Is the hotel supportive in your journey? Yes, especially my manager who had practised the interviews with me and was there for me through the whole journey. My hotel made posters for me as a form of encouragement. I was also attached to my concierge and duty manager for a week to learn how they interacted with guests and solve guests’ issues.
What are some of the challenges you face at work and how do you overcome them? I’m not an extroverted person, so I found it hard to start a conversation with guests. Sometimes, I faced challenges when I try to meet the guests' demands and expectations. But from those challenges in my first year, I got to learn a lot. The hotel and my colleagues helped to improve myself and become more confident, and I'm getting better at it.
You’ve been here for five years. What is it about the environment or your colleagues that made you stay on? Because Pan Pacific Singapore is located in the Marina area, there are lots of events that takes place like the Singapore Grand Prix and National Day Parade, which I may not experience at other hotels. So there are new experiences every year. And my colleagues are very fun. We are very close as a team. We have an outing at a chalet every year so we mingle with each other and get very close.
Any memorable experiences you’ve had in your career? Once, a water pipe had burst and several rooms got wet. The guests started coming down from their rooms. All our Director Associates from the various departments and even those who were off duty came together to calm the guests down, and help deal with the situation. The rooms and belongings were soaked but we managed to solve the problem. We moved the guests to new rooms and invited them to dinner. The fact that the whole hotel team came down that day, even on their days off and after working hours, made me realise that this is what teamwork is really about.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in joining the industry? It can get really busy at work, but you must always stay positive and overcome your challenges. I always look back at these moments as part of my learning journey.