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. Chua Keng Chua returned to the hotel industry after attending Open Hotels Weekend.
How long have you been in the hotel industry? I’ve been working in the industry for more than six years. I started out as a Duty Engineer before I was promoted to Assistant Technical Engineer. I then left the industry to work as a consultant. After attending Open Hotels Weekend last year, I decided to return to working in a hotel and have been at PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road ever since.
What made you consider returning to the hotel industry, and how did Open Hotels Weekend help to convince you?
While working as a consultant, I started to miss working in a hotel. I found that in hospitality, people are friendlier and I enjoyed the interaction with customers. More than that, I believe hospitality is a booming industry and there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow.
After seeing an ad for Open Hotels Weekend in the newspaper, I attended it without having any expectations, as I just wanted to take a look at the available job opportunities. When I was at PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road, I saw a role that suited me and was in line with my interest and experience, so I decided to apply for it. Also, participating in the event made me realise I missed working in a hotel.
How was your experience at the last Open Hotels Weekend like? What did you enjoy most about it? I was quite surprised at how welcoming the whole event environment was, and I felt a lot more comfortable and at ease. Compared to a typical career fair, Open Hotels Weekend was unique because beyond simply informing me about available jobs in a hotel, it also helped me understand what it would be like to work in one. There were videos shown to showcase the work culture of the different hotels. That helped me make an informed decision about the available roles, the roles that were more suitable for me and the hotels I wanted to apply to.
How has your career journey been so far? Whether it was working in a hotel or as a consultant, my experience has always been in engineering and I was able to draw on my experience and transfer my skills across the different jobs. However, the hotel industry is unique because it’s so people-oriented. I don’t just work on the technical aspects of a building; I have to interact with guests as well and that makes my work more interesting. I help them with any issues they may encounter in the hotel, such as faulty showers or air-conditioning, and I make sure that their hotel experience is as comfortable as possible. That’s something that has made my career feel all the more fulfilling.
Can you share more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? There are two main aspects to my day-to-day work – preventive and corrective maintenance. Corrective maintenance mainly involves responding and acting on feedback and faults, whereas preventive maintenance refers to the work done to ensure everything is running smoothly and without issue. As you can imagine, the biggest thing we have to work on every day is probably air-conditioner servicing, as there are units all over the hotel!
How do you ensure consistent excellence in what you do? Over the years, I believe I have kept improving at my job. I started out with a certain set of skills, and what has been important to me is that I’ve continued to pick up new skills along the way.
What are some of the challenges you face at work? And how do you overcome them? I love problem solving – the more challenging, the better! Job satisfaction for me comes from being able to tackle new problems every day and find solutions for them. So I try to approach every challenge with that mindset - that every problem can be solved. I don’t let difficulties overwhelm me, and I know that as long as I work systematically, it can be done. Of course, it’s easier with the experience I have gained and the supportive colleagues I work with.
What has been your most memorable experience in your career so far? Once, a guest told me that the air-con unit and TV in her room had not been working the entire night. But because it happened at night, she did not want to disturb the hotel staff and only informed us the next morning. I was very touched by her kindness and consideration because it was probably not very comfortable for her. After my colleagues rectified the faults and ensured that the rest of her stay was comfortable, I asked for a fruit basket to be sent to her as a gesture of our appreciation.
Has your experience working in hospitality been what you expected? Very much so. I’ve always enjoyed working in a hotel as the main focus has always been to make people happy, and that has never changed throughout my time working here.
Would you encourage those interested to attend Open Hotels Weekend? Open Hotels Weekend will definitely be an eye-opening experience for anyone who is interested, however remotely, about the industry, and I highly recommend it. You will get information about the industry, the various hotels and the job openings available that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. It’ll definitely help you make a decision on whether to pursue a career in hospitality, just as it did for me.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? What advice would you give to someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry?