1. Please give a brief overview of your career history – where you started, how you
progressed, the companies you have worked for etc
I began working part time in a coffee shop from the age of 16 while still at school. During summer holidays I also helped in an estate agent as a Receptionist. During university I continued to work part time in the coffee shop and began to work in a bar also.
Having left university early, I took on a full time Reception and PA position within a property
development company while keeping both part time jobs on at weekends. I came to the decision after a few months to leave the property developers, taking on full time hours in the coffee shop I had worked in since the age of 16.
Soon after the owners decided to sell the business and so I was in need of a new full time job. I
applied to work in a few hotel receptions and restaurants and was successful in my interview for The Merchant Hotel where I have been since February 2008. During this time I applied for promotion to become Front of House Supervisor and was successful in this after 10 months in my position as a Receptionist.
2. Have you always wanted to work within hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism and
why? If not, how did you end up where you are now?
I always imagined that I would work in the art and design industry however when I went to university I found I did not enjoy the type of work or atmosphere I was in.
Having worked with the public from the age of 16 I then considered this as an option for me.
Hospitality was an industry I had never considered as a career and it was only when I was in need of a job I fell back on the experience I had from my part time jobs.
So far I have enjoyed working in the industry and believe I can continue to develop a career in the sector.
3. What sort of qualifications and training have you had and what else would you like to do?
I have 9 GCSEs, 3 As Levels, 3 A Levels, Key Skills level 3 and word processing qualifications. I do not have any industry specific qualifications, however through work I have began an NVQ 1 in Front Office which is a work based, apprenticeship qualification. When I have completed this I would like to continue on with the next stages of the qualification and perhaps in time learn a second language.
4. What are the top 5 activities you would typically carry out on a daily basis?
Dealing with general and specific enquiries in person, via email and phone calls.
Ensuring guest stays run smoothly and are as enjoyable as possible.
Checking in and out of guests.
Making reservations for both accomodation and restaurant.
Settling of guest accounts, bills and till procedures.
5. What do you most enjoy about your job?
I most enjoy meeting new people. There is a constant flow of people though reception including
guests and staff. The people are constantly changing and constantly change and exceed expectations.
6. What would you say is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis?
I feel the biggest challenge I face on a daily basis is having to be aware of everything that is going on
within the hotel. There is a lot of information to remember within my own department as well as all other areas in the hotel including restaurants, bars, accommodation, inhouse events etc. Things are constantly changing and as a Receptionist it is vital to be aware of all aspects of hotel life.
7. What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
I believe my promotion to Front of House Supervisor has been my biggest achievement so far. I
was in my receptionist position for 8 months before being promoted.
8. Who has been the greatest influence/role model in your career and why?
The owner of The Merchant, Mr.Bill Wolsey has been a great influence in my hotel career. He
started his company from the bottom up working hard to develop each of his businesses and their
reputation, while constantly trying to improve Belfast and the standards of service available in our city.
9. Do you have a favourite tale or most memorable moment from your career?
My most memorable moment was meeting a high profile group who were staying in the hotel. It was the fact that they were not at all what I expected and were very appreciative of everything nthat was done for them. By simply being polite they changed all previous expectations making them memorable for me not only for being VIP.
10. What piece of advice would you offer someone who wants to work within our industries?
I would advise gaining as much experience as possible - each department is connected in ways you
may not think of until you work there, working in a hotel is a team effort and understanding how other
depatments work can only make things run smoother.
11. Why would you encourage someone to work in our industry?
If you enjoy working with lots of different people our industry is something you are likely to enjoy.
Within a hotel you are exposed to so many different types of people and cultures not only
through guests and customers but staff as well, it is a great place to learn about people.