The hospitality industry in Asia Pacific is expanding at a rapid rate and the need for staff to work in hotels is growing exponentially. Accor, the largest hotel operator in the region, recently surveyed some of its staff to find out what an average day consists of for hotel workers and the results proved that there is no such thing as an average day. Overall, the responses showed that working in hotels is challenging, rewarding and full of surprises.
Operational hotel staff are asked to find missing underwear, regulate showers, rouse guests who sleep through wake-up calls, forecast weather and provide restaurant and entertainment recommendations on a daily basis. But given the wide variety of guests from all corners of the world with different customs and expectations, employees often deal with much more extraordinary requests.
Some are easy to fulfil, like the long-staying guest who wanted a breakfast of porridge with exactly 8 strawberries and 12 slices of apple. Others are baffling like the guest who demanded to know why the same room was bigger the last time he stayed. And some are simply surprising, such as the guest who wanted his furniture in the room to be covered with plastic before his arrival.
One of the best things about working in hotels is that guests are often celebrating a special occasion such as an anniversary, wedding proposal, birthday or surprise of some kind, so staff are called in to help create special memories. An example of this was the concierge who was asked to decorate a room with flowers, chocolates and porcelain chickens for a Thai man who was going to propose to a woman obsessed with collectible hens. Or the guest at Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay who requested his room be filled with tinsel, holiday ornaments and Santa figurines to surprise his children when they arrived – in the middle of the year!
“People come to hotels to celebrate special occasions so it’s great to get to share these special moments and witness such happiness on a regular basis,” says Tarek Beheiry, Rooms Division Manager of the Singapore Resort & Spa Sentosa, Managed by Accor. “We regularly see wonderful things like family reunions, wedding proposals, birthday celebrations and it is these moments that make working in hotels such a joy, especially if we can take part in the organisation of these events.”
From rescuing guests caught out in halls without their clothes on to dealing with sleepwalking guests, at Accor hotels, the operational teams are trained to show a high level of diplomacy to deal with awkward situations.
Working in the hospitality industry also means getting to meet many different people from all over the world, including royalty and superstars, but it is often the most ordinary guests who make the most extraordinary requests.
“When we look to fill positions in our hotels, we are looking for people who are passionate, creative and can think on their toes, because they have to meet the most unusual demands sometimes,” says Veronique Augier Nel, HR Marketing Manager at Accor.
"Nine times out of 10, we'll be able to fulfil the requests, because it's the level of personalised service that makes our hotels unique,” she says. “Sometimes we can be defeated by things like weather or the unavailability of strange items, but if you ask our team to help you create something special, they will certainly do all they can to do so.”
Accor hotel rooms have regularly become a canvas for expression of our guests’ personalities or cultural backgrounds and housekeeping staff often stumble upon surprising discoveries such as an intricate floor to ceiling sculpture made of the room’s furniture, linen, and mini-bar items; thousands of Haribo bears carefully displayed end to end covering every horizontal surface of the room; a room with all the furniture and fittings completely covered in toilet paper; or another room transformed into a professional cooking station complete with oil stains on the desk and raw ingredients left behind.
“Working in hospitality can be demanding, but it is certainly never boring and the great thing is that because of our rapid expansion in the region, career development and progression can also be quite rapid,” says Veronique. “We also have very high levels of staff satisfaction at the hotel level, with an average of 85% across the Asia Pacific region saying they enjoy their jobs, so we know it is a very rewarding career.”
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