As a front-office intern at the Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay hotel, one of Mandy Chung Man-shum’s jobs is to serve the hotel’s VIP guests. She tells Wong Yat-hei that in doing so she has learned about the importance of customer service and teamwork, and has come to relish the challenge of working in a busy hotel.
What is your academic background?
I am currently a bachelor student majoring in hospitality management at the Swiss Hotel Management School in Switzerland.
How do you start your day?
After starting work at 7am I need to prepare a daily report for the accounts department before 7:30am. Afterwards, I have to follow-up unfinished tasks and handle daily e-mails.
What are your main duties?
My main duties focus on arrival arrangements for the hotel’s VIP guests. There are several procedures that need to be followed. First of all, I need to inform the housekeeping team of any special in-room set-ups that have been requested. I then have to make sure that everything is in place and ready before the VIP arrives. I also need to prepare a VIP registration card and ensure the accuracy of the information.
I also sometimes need to prepare special amenities for guests who celebrate their birthdays or honeymoons at our hotel. My job satisfaction comes from satisfying and exceeding our guests’ expectations.
What major challenges have you encountered?
One of the major challenges is handling guests’ emotions. Most of the time our guests are approachable and friendly. However some may lose their temper when things are not to their liking.
I have to listen first, find out what the problem is and show empathy to the guest. If I cannot handle the situation, I will inform the duty manager or front office manager. I then make sure to observe how my supervisors take care of the situation, which is a great learning process for me.
What are your future plans?
In two years’ time I hope to be working for a well-established hotel group, such as the InterContinental Hotels Group, as large hotel groups provide a lot of training and opportunities for their employees.
What advice can you give to those interested in the industry?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Admit them and learn from them. As I had no experience of working in a front office before, I sometimes made trivial mistakes. At first, I was afraid of admitting them. However, I realised that if I do this, I don’t learn how to do it properly and professionally in the future.
Another lesson I have learned is to be curious and not hesitate to ask questions. Supervisors and trainers are always willing to answer your questions and you will gain a lot through this simple action.