How long have you been in the hotel industry? I started my career with Ascott and have been working in the hospitality industry for seven years now.
What inspired you to choose the hospitality industry? The hospitality industry was what I really wanted to do ever since I was young. I enjoy interacting and communicating with people. So working in customer service is really satisfying and I'm delighted to come to work every day. This is what I really enjoy most. Besides that, I feel that working in hospitality can take me far in my career as there are many long-term opportunities such as progressing to a higher leadership role where I’ll get to take part in more management duties. There are also many opportunities for me to experience other departments such as Housekeeping and Engineering which will help equip me with the knowledge to succeed in this industry.
Can you elaborate on how your experience has been since you started out as a Guest Service Officer? My very first Guest Service Officer role was at our sister property, Citadines Mount Sophia Singapore. After six years, my manager wanted me to gain greater exposure. So I moved to the luxury serviced residence, Ascott Orchard Singapore, where the branding and guest profiles are totally different from the more vibrant Citadines brand. I carried on as a Guest Service Officer in Ascott. Then, my supervisor had a chat with me to discuss taking up a supervisory role. They had a lot of confidence in me and assured me that if I needed any help, they would be there for me. They're always very supportive. I accepted the role and I’d like to think I’ve done a good job so far!
Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis?
My role as a Guest Service Officer includes duties such as facilitating guests’ check-in and check-out processes. We also try our best to assist our guests with any requests they may have and lend a helping hand to first-time guests at our property. We want them to feel like they’re home. For guests who are first-time visitors to Singapore, I will take the initiative and ask if they would like to be introduced to local food, good attractions or shopping.
With my new supervisor role, there are more tasks that I need to oversee like ensuring that overbookings are avoided. I also need to make sure that all of my operations are stable and all my juniors are working well. When they need help, I will always be there to guide them on how to handle the operations well so that all our guests will be happy with their stay. On top of that, I also check that the reports to be presented to the management team are well prepared and oversee the night auditor who performs night shift duties.
Can you tell us more about the digital transformation that the hotel has been through? Our hotel underwent a digital transformation process which saw the introduction of self-service check-in kiosks. It is a machine that speeds up the check-in process. The guests get to skip the queue and check in on their own. The process takes less than five minutes! This helps in crowd management and happier guests as waiting time is significantly reduced. On top of that, we also introduced the Innovative Automated Work Flow Management System which is a very easy-to-use software. This system helps us communicate guests’ requests amongst staff from different departments to improve operational efficiency. It requires just one click in the system and the task will be automatically sent to the relevant department and my colleagues will then be able to assist the guests immediately.
Your role is a unique one as a result of a job redesign. Can you explain how that came about, and the new skills you gained for this new role? With digital transformation, the hotel required someone who was well-trained and well-versed in using these technical systems to assist in training other staff to adapt to the new systems and processes. I’m glad that the management saw me as a potential candidate to carry out these new re-designed jobs effectively. I have gained experience in a variety of leadership roles just by guiding the team to maximise efficiency during the check-in and check-out procedure for guests.
What do you think are the advantages of having a role that has been redesigned?
With the help of technology, staff have more time to take care of guests’ needs. As there is less paperwork, we now focus more on interacting with guests, getting to know what they need or prefer, and making them feel at home.
With this redesigned job, I feel that I get to be more productive and learn new skills. It makes me feel satisfied with my career and I feel that I can make a difference in this company.
What has been your most memorable experience in your career so far? There was a guest who was staying with us for the first time who requested an apartment with a view of the pool, but we have a limited number of rooms with that view. Luckily, since the occupancy on that day was manageable, I managed to reassign the bookings and got them a pool view apartment and they were very happy throughout their stay. When they checked out, they wrote a note to compliment me. They also enjoyed the local food I had recommended them. They come to Singapore every three to four months and they will always stay at Ascott Orchard. We’ve become friends since then.
Do you have any goals that you hope to achieve during your time in the hotel? I strive to be an exemplary team leader who is capable of leading my team to achieve the targets set out by the management and who is able to provide a better stay for all our guests.
What advice would you give someone who is interested to join the hotel industry? Believe in yourself and always have a positive mindset that anything is possible.