Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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CHARLES CHOW

PACIFIC AMBASSADOR,

LIFELONG FRIEND

PAN PACIFIC SINGAPORE

What do you do at Pan Pacific hotel? I’m a Pacific Ambassador, so I’m usually stationed at the hotel lobby. The lobby is where you get to make a first impression and start a relationship with the guests. Basically, my role is to meet and greet all the guests that arrive at the hotel lobby – not just guests who are arriving for their stay, but also those who are attending events. I try to meet their needs and make their visit as hassle-free as possible.

I have to coordinate with my colleagues to prepare for the arrival of VIPs. For example, if a VIP is arriving in a few days, and I know that he or she likes to visit a particular restaurant or bar, I’ll make an effort to meet the manager and maybe arrange for a special menu for the VIP. I make it a point to familiarise myself with the location as well, so that when I bring the VIP guest there, I know where everything is. That way, things can go as smoothly as possible.

What made you decide to join the hotel industry in the first place? I used to work part-time as a house butler in a hotel when I was in school. I really enjoyed the work, so I decided to join the hotel industry full-time. And I really love what I do, so that’s how I’ve managed to stay in the industry for the past 13 years.

How do you help to make guests happy? I try to do little things like remembering their birthdays. Even when I’m not at work, I’ll send them a birthday message. Once, to celebrate the birthday of one of our regular guests, I went to his favourite restaurant with my team and prepared a cake with his name on it. We then shot a birthday video at the restaurant and sent it to him, even though he wasn’t staying with us at that time.

So your service to your guests doesn’t stop when they check out? Yes, I try to build and maintain a friendship with them, even when they’re not staying with us.

How did you learn to become this good at what you do? It comes from within. You have to love what you do, and be happy with what you do. Once you have a positive mindset, you’ll enjoy the process of learning and experiencing new things every day. The skills and knowledge will come naturally, but you need to have the right attitude.

Also, my parents used to run a restaurant. When I was younger, I would help out at the restaurant, so that was how I started my journey in the service industry.

What were some of the things you learned while working in the restaurant, that you apply to what you do today? The basics, I suppose. Greeting guests, remembering their names, and simply trying to make my guests feel at home.

What do you love most about what you do? That sense of pride and satisfaction I get when I’m able to help my guests. I always put myself in the shoes of my guests, so when they’re happy, I get to share that sense of joy as well. Sometimes, guests will thank you or compliment you for your help. It’s quite encouraging, and it makes me feel appreciated.

You also get to meet a lot of VIPs. And these VIPs are not ordinary people, sometimes you get to meet celebrities and work with them as well. That’s quite memorable.

Do you mostly work with VIPs? I work very closely with our Guest Relations team for VIP guests, as the guests may require additional attention or have special requirements. But my job is not only limited to handling VIP guests, I make sure that all the guests I meet feel special and important.

How do you achieve that? I just strike a conversation with them and try to build a personal connection with every guest. I’ll also help them in any way I can, be it making a reservation at our hotel restaurant or other little things to make their time here as enjoyable as possible. I want my guests to remember me and how I made them feel, so they’ll never forget the time they spent here.

You seem to do a lot for your guests – remembering little details about them, and going the extra mile. Does it get tiring? Sometimes. But I enjoy being tired, it makes me feel more fulfilled. If I’m not tired when I get home, I will spend a lot of time thinking of what I could’ve done better. And it’s not easy to do what I do, because we’re on our feet most of the day. So I will advise my colleagues to get a foot massage on our days off. I do that a lot too, just to relax.

Apart from that, I also try to discover new places in Singapore, and try them out myself. That way, I’ll know what to recommend my guests.

Do you have any words of advice for people who want to join the hotel industry? If they do join the hotel industry, they’ll get to experience meeting and interacting with a lot of different people from different countries. There are a lot of events they can be a part of as well. It can be very exciting.

But you have to know what you really want, and what motivates you. There are a lot of training courses that are available to us in the industry, so you can constantly improve yourself. For example, I’m taking a Japanese language course, so I can interact better with my Japanese guests.

All you need is the heart, and the willingness to work. We’ll be here to groom you and give you all the support you need to become who you want to be.