Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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MADELEINE LOW

SENIOR GUEST SERVICE EXECUTIVE

THE QUINCY HOTEL

Can you tell us more about your role, what you do on a daily basis? I am a Senior Guest Service Executive, and I take on the Duty Manager role at The Quincy Hotel. I am also in charge of two hotel programmes, Random Acts of Wonder (RAW) and a priority guest programme whereby I get in touch with guests and establish their preferences prior to their arrival. Through this programme, I am able to learn more about our guests in order to serve them better.

My team and I also observe our guests’ behaviour and then try to think of ways to enhance their stay before any problems arise. I encourage my team to think in this manner, and it has been really helpful. I’m quite proud of this programme, having seen it grow and be embraced by the hotel staff.

How long have you been in the industry? A little over five years. This was my first job after graduating from hospitality school. I got my first taste of the hospitality industry when I was a Customer Service intern at Changi Airport. It was mostly a desk-bound job, and it helped me realise that I wanted a job where I can move around and interact with different people.

My mum was the one who introduced me to the idea of working in the hospitality industry after reading about a hospitality school programme in the newspaper. Hospitality school was new at the time, and there weren't many around. But she encouraged me to join, because she had worked in a hotel herself. She shared that the experience and the time she had with her colleagues and guests were the best years of her life. That really opened my eyes to the possibilities that hospitality offered.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? I really enjoy what I do because of the flexible working hours. I also enjoy working with my team because they are such a happy and fun group of people whom I can turn to for help. We’re also quite close. When we’re having a difficult day, we can go to one another to talk about it, and we always end the day with a smile. That’s one of the things I cherish most about my team – that we mutually support and trust each other.

What has been your most memorable experience in your career in the hotel industry so far? I would say it was when I was chosen to undergo cross-training. At The Quincy Hotel, you are given the opportunity to gain experience in various departments – housekeeping, engineering, revenue management, sales and even a three-month stint in another hotel.

This experience allowed me to expand my horizons, and I was able to learn more about other departments rather than being limited to just one field. It was also good because I was able to get to know my colleagues from different departments, which was helpful as we work with each other a lot.

How do you think you contribute to a guest’s happiness during his/her stay? I think for me, it’s all about anticipation. Being part of the RAW team really allows me to train my anticipation and intuition skills. I don’t wait for the guests to ask me for help; I try to anticipate what they need before they even realise it. It doesn’t always have to be grand gestures. We try to do small things within our resources that hopefully can make a difference and enhance our guests’ experience.

For example, we previously had some guests who attended the Bruno Mars concert in Singapore. We anticipated that their throats will be sore from all the singing and screaming, so we came up with care packages consisting of a few bottles of water and isotonic drinks, as well as a quirky greeting card reminding them to hydrate themselves after the concert. We placed these care packages in their rooms to surprise them when they returned from the concert. The guests really appreciated the thoughtful gesture, and thanked the entire team when they checked out.

So it’s actually very simple and within our ability to go a small step further, yet it can help to really improve our guests’ experience. I am a strong believer that little things can go a long way to make a long-lasting and memorable impression.

What makes you feel satisfied or accomplished at work? I feel accomplished when I’m able to help a guest with a challenging request, and turn him or her into a happy, returning guest. That said, I feel most satisfied when we have a difficult day as a team and yet, we are still able to cheer each other up. In a hotel, each work day is unpredictable, you don’t know what challenges you may have to deal with. But having my team to get through those difficult days together and still go home with smiles on our faces – that really makes me glad to be in this industry.

How do you feel when guests leave a good review or compliment you for what you’ve done for them? To be honest, not many guests will take the time to write a review. There are moments when they look you in the eye and compliment you and your efforts, but getting good personal reviews is quite uncommon. For me, as long as I know I’ve made their stay the best it could be, that is good enough. But when we do get a positive review, it definitely feels good and I feel more appreciated and very thankful.

What I value more are the handwritten notes or letters that we receive from our guests. Back in November 2011, I had a guest whom I accompanied to the hospital during her stay. She wrote me a handwritten letter to thank me for my efforts. That was one of the most memorable ones and it’s also a gift that I keep to this day.

What motivates you to come to work and give your best every day? I just tell myself that every day is another opportunity for me to work with people I care about. So why not try to make the day as good as it can be? That simple mantra motivates me to do my best every day.

What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? The hotel industry is very varied, and there are many positions you can enjoy, so don’t be afraid to explore your options. Most importantly, enjoy the moment and don’t forget to experience everything you can.