Finding your calling is a special thing - especially when it leads you to your happily ever after. In our Valentine’s Day series, we put hotel couple Louis Bettie and Jaymi Tee under the spotlight, exploring the perks and quirks of being married to a fellow Ambassador of Happiness.
How did you meet?
L: In a carpark! We met during a training session for an Amazing Race competition organised for hotels in Singapore. I had joined in 2011 and she joined in 2012, but we only met in 2013.
J: Yes, even though we were working at the same hotel for a year, our paths didn’t cross until that day.
What was your first impression of each other and has that changed?
J: My first impression of him was that he was fierce yet motivating during the training session.
L: … and she started to complain that I was too strict!
J: So much has changed in the last six years, especially his size (laughs).
How long have you been in the Business of Happiness?
L: It’s been eight years since I joined the hotel industry. We’ve been married for three years — time really flies!
J: This is my first hotel job. Previously, I was working in a small oil trading company for a year. The hotel is much bigger so I get to meet more people.
Can you tell us a bit more about your roles in the hotel?
J: I’m an Administrative Coordinator, and I really found a family here at Furama Riverfront Hotel. For example, Ms Chan who interviewed me has become my mentor and because of her, I was promoted to work as a secretary to the Vice President, doing administrative support, scheduling and paperwork for meetings and events. Besides administrative work, I also analyse and summarise incoming reports from all our regional hotels.
L: I’m a Restaurant Manager, in charge of operations. I serve about six to seven hundred guests daily with my team and start at six in the morning when breakfast begins. I’m also in charge of room service, the mini bar, vending machine, coffee house and the waterfall feature. To make sure that operations run smoothly, proper scheduling of staff is essential – so staff wellbeing and team management, or what I call ‘the software’, is very important in my role. My team has been fabulous when it comes to teamwork and problem solving, so it’s been a pleasure working with them.
Do you enjoy seeing each other every day?
J: Yes, especially when we were dating. We used to wait for each other at the end of the work day so we could take the same bus home together. I stayed at Telok Blangah, and he stayed in Clementi. So we would have dinner together in the middle, at VivoCity.
L: We always order the same thing on our dates — prawn noodles. It’s quick to eat… so I can talk to her longer (laughs). Back when we were dating, whenever I’m having a coffee in the canteen, she’ll pass by to say a quick hi. Maybe she was keeping track of me!
J: (laughs) I’ll call him to meet during our breaks. There’s a door from our office to the canteen, so we will ‘accidentally’ bump into each other.
What are the benefits of being a hotel-industry couple? L: Besides getting to see each other during the day, the mutual understanding of schedules and lifestyles helps our marriage. Someone in a different line of work may wonder what I’m doing in the hotel for such long hours, but Jaymi understands.
They say opposites attract. What are your biggest similarities and differences?
L: I enjoy being on my feet, while she’s very conscientious and detail-oriented, so we’re perfectly suited for our roles as Administrative Coordinator and Restaurant Manager.
J: I’m a lot more systematic than he is. If I’m five minutes behind schedule, I’ll rush to make sure everything goes smoothly. For Louis, he can’t predict what’s going to happen in the restaurant, so he doesn’t really plan in advance but he is good at thinking on his feet and being flexible. On our similarities, we enjoy doing things together, like eating spicy food. When we started dating, he hated spicy food, but since I like it, he’s learnt to like it too.
Is it easier to have a work life balance since you’re working together?
L: We start work at different timings — she takes care of our kids before starting work at 9, while I start the day at 6 as I work shifts. We take turns taking care of the kids based on our schedules and get some time to ourselves as well. We don’t talk about work at home; instead we talk about the kids.
J: Yeah, like how to bring them up, what’s the best school etc. Since we’re not in the same department, we’ve managed to keep our work and personal life separate.
Both of you essentially create happiness for a living; do you expect a lot of romantic gestures?
L: She always asks me, “Why are you not romantic?” The only so-called romantic thing we do is to take holidays together.
J: I don’t think working in a hotel helps him much in the romance department! Sometimes I tell him to ask my best friends for ideas! Hints don’t work anymore (laughs).
Will you encourage your children to join the hotel industry?
L: I will definitely expose my son to the industry, but I won’t force him into an environment if he doesn’t enjoy it. Now he’s attending the childcare centre in the annex building next door, so this is like a family hotel for us. Sometimes, he’ll ask Jaymi to bring him to see me at work.
J: During lunch breaks, I’ll also pop by to say hi to the little one.
What inspired you to join the hotel industry?
L: I studied culinary arts management in school. Furama Riverfront Hotel is my first job after graduation. It’s been amazing so far. The company really takes care of staff and I’ve grown professionally. When I first started, I really had the hunger for knowledge, asking lots of questions and finding out how the business worked. The working environment constantly inspires me; you never run out of things to learn.
J: I agree, Furama Riverfront Hotel is very generous, giving us time off to attend courses and competitions, something Louis has really benefited from. In 2011, he won the gold medal award for being the best in waitering!
Any memorable experiences working either together or individually?
J: I remember we worked together once. I was tasked to do a survey for his restaurant, part of the Online Reputation Management review survey, an initiative to collect paperless feedback from guests. It was the first time I needed to do a presentation in front of him. Presenting to the bosses is not a problem for me, but presenting in front of him was nerve-wracking! He kept smiling at me, so I couldn’t focus.
L: Well, it was a good presentation! (laughs) Sometimes when we are working, we don’t need to talk but I know what she wants. Sometimes I forget to bring something, and she knows immediately — the chemistry is undeniable.
Any words of advice for those who want to join the industry?
L: Put yourself out there. You get to meet people from all over the world, both fellow staff and guests with a range of different personalities, styles and cultures so take advantage of that. For instance, I’ve learnt multiple languages from the international team I manage, and it really expands your world view. Also, motivate others. If you put your heart into the job, working as a team can be really rewarding.
J: It’s just like what he said, in any other line, you meet a limited range of clients. But in the Business of Happiness, you meet all sorts. Your guest could be from anywhere in the world with interesting stories and backgrounds, an aspect of the job I really like.
L: For young people who want to join this industry, make sure you don’t sit still. It’s a job that requires flexibility and energy to adapt to challenges. If you enjoy always being on your feet, walking around and meeting different people, you’ll enjoy working in a hotel.