Career Advice Recruitment tips

Hotel trainee groomed at the Inn

After graduating from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a degree in hotel management, Michelle Wong got the ball rolling on her hospitality career straight away by starting out on the I-Grad Future Leaders Programme at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile Hong Kong.

“I had to go through several interviews and an assessment to win the job,” she says. “The best thing is that we get to have the hotel’s general manager as a coach. He meets with us regularly and shares his valuable experience.”

The 18-month programme is split into three six-month phases: familiarising, specialisation and performing. Still in phase one, Wong is gaining general experience by rotating through different departments of the hotel.

“I’m now in the front office, which is very exciting as it’s a super busy hotel which has more than 1,000 international travellers checking in and out every day,” she says.

“In phase two, I will gain an in-depth view of the sales and marketing department, which is the area I chose for specialisation. For phase three, I will be leading a sales and marketing project.”

With so much to learn, Wong finds the programme rather challenging. “It is not easy for me to find a professional way to balance the practices of different departments. Therefore, bridging the gap between these departments is a real challenge,” she says.

Wong starts each day with breakfast at the “Backstage Café” – the staff canteen – where she finds chatting with colleagues the best way to learn about the hotel. She then goes through her specially designed workbook to make sure she is on top of the learning schedule and checklist.

In the long term, Wong would like to focus her hotel career on sales. “My goal is to become a sales manager within five years. To do this I will have to learn the fundamentals of hotel marketing from experienced colleagues and enhance my communication skills,” she says.

To excel in the hotel sector, Wong thinks it is important to be passionate and have an open heart. “One has to learn to celebrate difference and learn about different cultures. Social and communication skills are also important. The ability to speak in English and Mandarin is a must,” she says.

“I see a bright future for the hotel industry, especially on the mainland, because there are going to be lots of hotels opening there in the near future.”