How long have you been in the industry? I have been in the industry for the past 42 years.
What inspired you to join the hotel industry? I am generally a very easy-going and cheerful person. I enjoy having conversations with people from different walks of life. So I decided to join the hotel industry, as I thought it was a good way for me to make friends and meet people from all over the world.
Can you share a little bit about your career journey so far?
I started my career at the Shangri-la Hotel Singapore in 1976. I had no prior experience or knowledge about the hotel industry, but I seized the opportunity to work in a hotel as a room service waiter. My colleagues taught me how to carry out my duties, and I learned by following the instructions I was given. I eventually become a banquet waiter, before taking up the role of a Bellman.
I joined The Fullerton Hotel Singapore as a doorman when they opened in 2001. Today, I’m a senior doorman and continue to welcome new guests as well as our regulars every day. Upon their arrival at the hotel, I’m usually the first person they meet. I’m happy to welcome them with our warmth and hospitality.
Was there a reason you chose to stay in the industry for so long? The biggest reason would be the relationships I’ve formed over the years. I’ve had supportive mentors and colleagues throughout my career. And to this day, I still enjoy chatting with my guests. Some of the guests I’ve met have even become my good friends. There’s also a bonus working in a hotel – there is good food to eat all the time!
Can you tell us more about your current role and what you do on a daily basis?
As soon as I report to work, I’ll check if we are expecting any VIPs that day, and what time they’re expected to arrive. I’ll then share the information with my colleagues. We’ll all then be assigned our duties and roles for the day.
My primary role is to welcome all the guests upon arrival and give them a good first impression of the hotel. I’ll also check with them during their stay if they’re having a pleasant time. If there’s anything lacking in their rooms, or if they need anything to improve their stay, I’ll relay that message to my colleagues and we’ll do what we can to fix it.
When guests leave, I will be there to bid them farewell and wish them a smooth journey home. I’ll jokingly tell them to come back and visit – and many of them actually do!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I really enjoy the interaction with the guests. Although I only get to chat with them for brief moments each time, I’m glad that I get to be an ambassador and give them a taste of the special Singapore brand of warmth and hospitality.
I also especially enjoy seeing guests return to The Fullerton. They’re usually excited to see me, and we’ll greet each other like long-time friends. Some of them even buy gifts for me. One time, a returning guest and his wife bought me some perfume to show their appreciation for my service.
What does it take to become a good doorman?
The most important tip is to always wear a smile. Some guests have pointed out that I’m always smiling, and that it makes them happy to see me smile. Hearing that makes me feel pretty good, and motivates me to smile even more!
You have to always be sincere in what you do, and let it come from the heart. People can tell if you are just going through the motions. I always make sure my interactions with the guests are genuine.
Some other important traits would be initiative, a good memory and patience. As doormen, we have to start conversations with guests whenever we see them, remember all the names of our guests, and keep our cool in tough situations. Doormen are usually the first and last people that guests meet at the property, and these things play a big part in guests forming a good impression of the hotel.
What has been your most memorable experience or story in your career so far?
There was once I met a traveller who was passing by the hotel. He was not a guest of The Fullerton Hotel but he approached me frantically to ask for help as he was running late for his flight with only one hour to spare.
With the permission of the other guests who were waiting for a taxi, I got him a cab immediately to send him straight to the airport. The guest sent a letter complimenting me to my General Manager, thanking me for my service. Because of that letter, I was presented with an Excellent Service Award by the Singapore Hotel Association.
I’ve also met many celebrities and top dignitaries who have stayed in The Fullerton Hotel and those moments are very memorable as well.
How does it make you feel when you receive compliments from guests? It definitely makes me happy. But more than that, it keeps me motivated to continue providing better service.
What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? Be positive, be sincere, be ready for hard work, and you’ll be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment for a job well done!