At Open Hotels Weekend (OHW), hotels open their doors to give jobseekers a glimpse of what it’s like to work in the Business of Happiness, through behind-the-scenes tours and on-the-spot job interviews. Dinessh Raaj joined the hotel industry after attending OHW.
How long have you been in the hotel industry? I’ve been in the industry for about eight months now.
What made you consider joining the hotel industry, and how did Open Hotels Weekend 2018 help to convince you?
I was first exposed to the industry through my polytechnic’s Overseas Internship Program (OIP). I secured a place with a boutique hotel in Hong Kong and had the opportunity to be a front office ambassador as well as a housekeeping attendant.
My biggest takeaway from that experience was realising that I like to engage and interact with people. So when I chanced upon a Facebook post about Open Hotels Weekend after my National Service, I took the opportunity to apply for what’s now my role – an Event Coordinator.
The back-of-house tour during Open Hotels Weekend was definitely a unique experience. I found it really interesting to be able to see what goes on behind the scenes at hotels, and how everything that looks so nice on the outside is so carefully planned and put together.
What made me sure about wanting to work in this industry was seeing how much attention was being paid to every detail. For example, we had the opportunity to sample some of the items on the menu during our break sessions. We went down to the kitchen and saw how the chefs meticulously executed their creations, even for the simplest of dishes. Even though I was not applying for a role in Food & Beverage, I was inspired by the level of commitment the chefs showed towards performing tasks to the best of their ability.
As I already had in mind that this was the hotel that I wanted to join, and the role I was interested in, I signed up for an interview on-the-spot. That was another great part of Open Hotels Weekend, as it facilitated the application process.
What about the Event Coordinator position interested you? I’ve always been attracted to such “behind-the-scenes” roles, and I have enjoyed planning and executing events such as orientation camps since I was a student in polytechnic. The experience sparked my interest to join the industry. I didn’t have the opportunity to work in the events department during my internship, so when I saw the opening at Open Hotels Weekend, I decided to take part and try to apply for that position.
Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis?
I typically support the Event Managers. I assist with the logistical and administrative requirements of a wide variety of events, from meetings to product launches. On top of that, I ensure that minor details such as event signs are designed clearly and placed properly. Even if it’s a relatively minor task, I pay careful attention to it and execute it in the right way.
I also help with meetings and events within the hotel. When our hoteliers need an event venue, they come to me with details on how they want the event to be executed. I relay that information to the team, and then coordinate with the necessary departments to put the event together. Some of these events are conducted at night, so even though I work regular office hours, I will stay behind to help the team out.
How would you describe your career so far?
It has been very interesting and fulfilling. In the past eight months, I’ve learnt quite a fair bit. Prior to applying for this role, I had no experience in this field. However, whenever I faced difficulties, I’ve noticed that everyone is willing to help, even when the work isn’t part of their job scope. I genuinely look forward to coming to work every day, as I’m able to work with and learn from such a supportive team. It has been quite a journey so far and I have already been involved with several events, including festive celebrations and the most recent Open Hotels Weekend.
Helping to organise Open Hotels Weekend was particularly special to me as this was the very event that led to my first full-time job in the hotel industry, so it felt like things had come full circle. I really enjoyed working on the event and could relate when I saw attendees in the similar position that I was in last year, and being as curious about the industry as I was.
What has been your most memorable experience in your career so far? I was featured during the Singapore Tourism Board’s Tourism Industry Conference, as a successful applicant from Open Hotels Weekend. I’m very humbled by the fact that even though I’ve been working in the industry for such a short time, I was nevertheless profiled as a representative of the hotel and the industry. The events coordinator position isn’t very eye-catching, but knowing that I was noticed by the industry was very rewarding.
Do you have any goals that you hope to achieve during your time in the industry? I hope to work on more external events in the near future, and have more interactions with guests. There are always opportunities to pick up new skills and upgrade yourself in this industry and I just want to keep on learning. I feel that if you don’t seize the opportunity to keep improving, you’ll end up moving backwards.
Who do you learn from to make yourself better for the job? My Senior Event Manager is someone who has shown me the ropes here. I’ve learnt a lot about my job and the industry from her. There have been times where I’ve made mistakes, and she has gone out of her way to guide me through those tough times and help ensure that I don’t repeat them. No matter how many mistakes I’ve made, I’ve learnt that I shouldn’t dwell on them and to instead use the experience for my personal growth, both as a person and a hotelier.
Would you encourage someone to attend Open Hotels Weekend? Definitely. If you’re not familiar with the industry, Open Hotels Weekend lets you see for yourself what a career in the industry will be like, and help you make an informed decision about working in a hotel.
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining? It may be hard work, but if you have the interest to make people happy, then this is the industry for you. Whatever role you choose to take up, the smallest things you do can make the biggest difference to someone else’s experience.