Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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TAN YI YUN

SENIOR OPERATION AND QUALITY MANAGER

FAIRMONT SINGAPORE

Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? I am an Operations and Quality Manager. I manage the wellness department in the hotel including the fitness centre and the spa, making sure that everything runs smoothly. I keep track of the manpower, equipment and guest relations, and ensure that everything is in order.

How long have you been in the industry? I’ve been in the hotel industry for seven years. After I graduated from my hospitality course in Switzerland, I chose to work in the wellness department because I thought it was an up-and-coming aspect in the hotel industry. Most hotels were placing more emphasis on wellness and fitness, and I saw an opportunity for me to learn and grow. So I decided to pursue a career in this area.

I felt that hospitality offered me a path that could lead to more diverse opportunities. There are so many different areas of hospitality, and we’re not restricted to just one aspect of it. I was also impressed by my own personal experiences with hospitality whenever I travelled, and it made me want to touch the lives of guests as well.

What do you enjoy about working in the wellness department? During my school internship, I had the chance to experience the other departments within a hotel. But what I like about the wellness department is that when guests come to us, we are able to make them feel at ease. I help my guests relax, unwind and take a break from the demands of everyday life.

And because the guests are relaxed and not rushed, we get to interact with them a little bit more and understand their needs, which in turn helps us serve them better.

Not a lot of people are knowledgeable in both hospitality and spa services. How did you learn to do both? The things I learned in school were more skewed towards hospitality and hotel management. So when I first started, I didn’t really have in-depth knowledge about spas. But I was given the opportunity to take a course in spa services, in order to learn what my team members do every day. I learned how to be a therapist, and how to carry out some of the treatments.

From that course, I was able to appreciate all the work that my team members put in and understand some of the challenges they face. This gave me a deeper understanding of spa services and helped me to carry out my duties better.

How do you think you contribute to a guest’s happiness during his/her stay? I try to make their experience as seamless as possible. For example, some guests who are here on business trips still want to squeeze in time for a workout even with a packed schedule. My role then is to make sure that all the gym and exercise equipment are functioning properly, so that when they head to the gym, everything is readily accessible.

I also try to give my guests a more personalised service. All it takes is to address them by their names, and going the extra mile to understand and fulfil their needs. Some guests may be feeling a little jet lagged, while others just need a quick pick-me-up before a special event. Based on their needs, I will recommend the most suitable spa treatment and assign them the right spa therapist. Little things like that can really make their experience much more enjoyable.

What was your most memorable experience so far? It’s probably the first time I had to facilitate a company’s spa retreat for about 50 people. There was a lot of logistical planning involved, and my team hadn’t done anything for such a big group before. My team and I had to coordinate with each other and work really closely to make sure that everything went smoothly.

Even though we had to put in really long hours, it was very satisfying and rewarding because the guests were so impressed with our service that they wanted to come back for more. That experience also taught us how to accommodate a large group, so we are better prepared to welcome bigger groups in the future.

You seem to work closely with your team. How do you keep them motivated at work? As a manager, I want my team to feel happy and valued so they will be motivated to deliver excellent service to our guests. I believe that timely recognition is very important. I don’t wait for a week, or even a day, to compliment someone for a job well done. I tell them as soon as I can, so they won’t feel like their efforts went unnoticed. I feel that doing so will motivate them to put in even more effort and be more committed in what they do.

What makes you feel satisfied or accomplished at work? A lot of the work we do in operations revolves around problem-solving. Sometimes, things go wrong and you have to be quick on your feet to solve those problems. But we can’t always do it alone. So I make sure I look out for my colleagues, and help them whenever problems arise. I try to make sure that everything is in order to avoid such occurrences. I find that to be quite satisfying.

What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? Don’t be afraid of hard work. Take pride in the fact that you have the power to make people happy. I like to think that we are “smile makers” – we are the ones who can really make our guests days better. But you have to first believe in your job, and use your passion to spread happiness.