My real story: Demi J

Age: 25

Education: Year 12 – Higher School Certificate

Current position: Front Office Supervisor, Atura Blacktown

Number of years at the hotel? 4 years

What does my role entail? Working in Front Office means that I am the face of the hotel and the hotel’s ambassador. I am our guest’s first impression as they arrive at the hotel and I am the last impression they receive as they depart. Besides providing guests with customer service for any desires or needs that they may have, behind the scenes, I am responsible for group bookings including inbound, conference and leisure groups. This consists of preparing quotes, contracting, invoicing and preparing for the groups’ arrivals, and ensuring all other departments are well-informed. As Front Office Supervisor, I am a leader and mentor to a team of six people. I am the key trainer for the department and I love sharing my knowledge and passion with my colleagues. I am also responsible for the rostering of Front Office.

How I got my start in the hotel industry: Atura Blacktown is my first hotel. Having stayed in many hotels, I fell in love with the prospect of actually working in one. I often asked myself, “what would it be like working on the other side”?

Does anyone in your family work in a Hotel? No, I am the first to embark on a career in hotels and I thoroughly recommend it.

Why do you like working in Hotels? I find enjoyment in speaking to people from all walks of life. I love finding a genuine connection with people having a chat. Every day is different, which can be exciting and keeps you on your toes. I love the flexibility.

What surprised you about working in hotels? Having been a guest staying in hotels and now actually working in a hotel, it was such a surprise to see all of the work that is required behind the scenes to ensure a guest has a smooth and exceptional stay. This is not seen from a guest’s perspective.

What my career has looked like to date: I was first employed as a casual food and beverage attendant in Roadhouse Bar and Grill which is located within Atura Blacktown. I than progressed to Food and Beverage Supervisor within two weeks of commencing my employment. I worked in food and beverage for two years as I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I found myself seeking a new challenge and an opportunity became available in Front Office. I transferred from F&B Supervisor to Front Office Guest Services Agent. This quickly became my new favourite department to work in. The opportunity to be creative and innovative and try new ways of doing things is playful. My Rooms Division Manager set me some challenges and told me if I was successful (which I was), that I would receive a promotion within six months to Front Office Supervisor which is my current position. I currently have “Hotel Duty Manager” in my sights.

During your time at this Hotel, what has been your proudest moment? This year I have been nominated for TAA’s 2017 Rooms Division Employee of the Year which I am very proud of. I appreciate my hotel investing their time and money into my development and goals. I am so proud of this achievement regardless of whether or not I win the prestigious award.

What has been your greatest professional achievement to date? I think being a mentor and leader to my colleagues is a great achievement, however taking out Aturas first ever Employee of the Month and then backing it up a few months later with Employee of the Year is the pinnacle. To then be nominated for a TAA Award was definitely the icing on that cake and is a great way to lead my team with an ‘anything is possible’ mentality.

Where do you wish to go from here? I am really enjoying my time in Front Office which offers so many opportunities to progress. I wish to move up the management chain. I am currently receiving a little exposure to revenue management and rate building which is interesting.

What challenges do you face in this role? One of the main challenges is time. I am so excited about all the possible things I could introduce however to execute things well, time and attention must be given and working so heavily in operations limits time I can spend on administration.

Why do you like working in the accommodation industry? I enjoy working within a team. Some really great friendships have been formed. I enjoy talking with guests and love making human connections. I enjoy the work as it is so satisfying.

What message do you have to tell others about working in the accommodation industry? That they would be surprised about all the things you could do and there are so many different avenues one could take. The possibilities are really endless!

What advice would you give to people considering a career in Hotels? Do it! It is fun, you work with great people, and it’s never boring as every day is different. You never know what you might see, hear or do!

Have you travelled as part of your career in Hotels? I have been given the opportunity on a few occasions to cover front desk in other hotels that are a part of our brand, such as Rydges.

Have you met anyone famous during your career in Hotels? Mr John Bowe, Australian Motorsport Champion, is a frequent guest at Atura and we also housed two seasons of Channel 7’s House Rules contestants and judges. I’ve also met Joanna Griggs (TV personality), Joh Bailey (stylist to the stars),

NRL football players and the Police Commissioner.

Can you bust any Hotel career myths? The hours and shift work provide a great work/life balance. I think Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm is mundane. I love the flexibility and freedom. If you work hard, you can be rewarded in many ways whether it be promotions, pay rises, employee of the month, employee recognition programs and industry award recognition.

What training have you received from your employer as part of your professional development? Fire warden training, first aid training, Opera training, RSA, Interacting with customers (TAFE recognised), Communicating in the workplace (TAFE recognised), Lead and manage people (TAFE recognised), Work effectively with others (TAFE recognised), and Monitor workplace operations (TAFE recognised).

Tell us about one of your best Hotel experiences? I recently received a general phone call enquiry and an instant personal connection was created. I had found out that the guest was bringing her son to Atura for his birthday. Sadly, he wanted a party at home and invitations went out and not one student confirmed they could go. Therefore Finneas, an 8-year-old boy with High Functioning Autism was coming to Atura to celebrate his birthday. The story affected me, I had compassion and I took it upon myself to ensure that Finneas had the best birthday ever. I arranged for the Chef to make Finneas a special dessert plate with his favourite dessert of chocolate brownies. I purchased balloons and streamers and decorated the room. I also convinced two colleagues to dress up as Batman and Robin to deliver presents containing a Batman Doll and a remote control car, with a Batman Birthday card signed by all staff which I purchased after researching appropriate gifts for children with Autism. In addition, I ensured Finneas’s mother received a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a handwritten note. This is one of my favourite moments working at Atura Blacktown.

Do you manage people? If yes, what is that like? As Front Office Supervisor, I am a manager of six team members. It is easy to manage a team when there is mutual respect among us all. It is fun teaching people the same thing, however their learning styles are different so to adjust to that is interesting.

What skills have you learnt on the job? People skills would absolutely be the biggest learning curve, including both staff and guests, as no two people are alike. I used to always say that I was not technically savvy however now I know how to operate property management systems, key encoding systems, point of sale systems, emergency fire panel, online reservation systems and how to build and manage rate codes and rates. My maths skills have immensely improved, and so have my skills in Microsoft applications such as PowerPoint, Excel, Word and Outlook.

What’s the pay like? We all wish we were on a million dollars but I get paid the award wage which all hotels offer. However as you move up the ladder, I am aware you can negotiate and if you work hard and make a name for yourself, you will be in demand which gives you a little negotiating power.

Anything else you’d like to add? I have an ability to always find a solution to meet both guest and hotel requirements. Through working in hotels, I have displayed integrity, been customer service focused and have the ability to foster excellent client relationships which has contributed significantly to the success of Atura Blacktown’s operation. With great levels of enthusiasm, an eye for detail and an innate flair for the aesthetic, I will always seek ways to ensure guest needs are not only met, but exceeded.