Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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DEBI HIAP

FRONT OFFICE HOST

SIX SENSES MAXWELL

How long have you been in the hotel industry? I started my internship last September, and have been working here for about eight months now.

What was the experience like as an intern and how do you think you have developed as a Front Office Host since? In school, you learn about how the industry operates. But only after I began my internship did I realise that nothing beats hands-on experience. I was able to see for myself how different departments work together, and learn the right way to communicate and serve our guests, in my role at the front office. For example, I try to remember the names of our guests and greet them, which is a simple thing but makes a big difference. Since becoming a full-time member of the staff, I’ve been given more responsibilities, which include helping to guide the new batch of interns here.

What made you decide to join the hotel industry full-time after your internship? I was thinking about what I wanted to do in the future and was deciding between furthering my studies and getting a full-time job. My colleagues and mentors were really understanding and they gave me a lot of advice about operations. Their passion for the industry really inspired me. That helped me to decide to start work full-time and to continue learning and improving my skills before furthering my studies in the future.

Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? As a Front Office Host, I assist guests with the standard check-in and check-out processes. I’m also involved with concierge services, including helping guests plan their day with recommendations of restaurants and attractions to visit, or anything they would like to know more about. Beyond these responsibilities, I’m also aware that the Front Office is usually our guests’ first interaction with the hotel, so creating a good first impression is very important.

What have you learnt since you started working in the industry? When I first started out, I was definitely a little nervous. Over time, I’ve learnt to have more confidence in myself. Working in the front office requires balancing various responsibilities, and it has helped me improve my planning and communication skills. I’ve also learnt to be more empathetic, to be more aware of my guests’ needs and preferences.

How has your life changed since you started working in the industry? Previously, I found it hard meeting new people and starting conversations, but now I’ve definitely become more confident in how I carry myself and the way I communicate with others. I consider myself an introvert but working in this industry has helped me get a lot better at interacting with people at work and outside of it.

What is something that people may not know about the hotel industry? Before I joined the industry, I had the impression that it was a lot of hard work. But what I’ve come to realise is that working in a hotel, while challenging, is very satisfying as well, especially when guests thank us or show appreciation for our work.

How did you go about making yourself better for the job? Many of my colleagues here have more experience in the industry than me, and they have always been willing to help and give me advice. As long as I’m willing to learn, there’s always someone willing to help guide me. The world is continuously developing, so it’s important to keep up with those changes and constantly try to upgrade your skills, and I’m thankful that the hotel provides us with such opportunities.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? Being able to interact with people who come from all over the world. It feels very rewarding that in my role, I can contribute to someone’s impression of not just our hotel, but also of Singapore.

What do you hope to achieve in the industry? I’m fairly new and still have a lot to learn. I see myself being in the industry for the long term, so right now, I hope to continue learning about my job and the industry, and developing my skills.

How do you think you contribute to a guest’s happiness during his/her stay? By being observant of a guest’s needs and taking note of his or her likes and dislikes. From there, we try to go above and beyond to surprise and delight. For example, recently we welcomed a guest to the hotel and it was his fifth stay with us. During his previous stays, I noticed he would head out for a yoga class every morning. We wanted to do something special for him as a regular guest so we got him a book on yoga and placed it in his room before he checked in, and he really appreciated the gesture.

What has been your most memorable experience in your career so far? Halfway through my internship, a guest wrote a letter to me, describing how I had helped her during her stay. She had arrived in Singapore to meet her sister for the first time in five years, and I had helped to plan their meet-up and recommended restaurants that they could go to, after learning about their food preferences. Finding out how much she valued that was really touching, and it motivated me to continue doing my best for our guests.

What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith, as a hotel career is definitely a fulfilling one.