Surpass expectations with personal touch
Ronald Cheung, front office manager at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong in Wan Chai, joined the hotel as guest service manager in 2005. He graduated from the Domino Carlton Tivoli International Hotel Management School in Switzerland with an associate diploma in hotel management and has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. However, as he tells Wong Yat-hei, he is currently taking a bachelor degree in business management so that he can blend new ideas together with his daily job.
How do you start your day?
I like to get to the office early as it gives me sufficient time to go through various important reports and catch up with the manager on duty the previous night before morning briefings with different departments. I can also prepare myself for the rest of the day and better allocate tasks to my team.
I usually have a big picture in my mind for each day. I will invite my team to collectively create surprises to add sparkle to the stay of VIPs and those visiting with a special occasion to celebrate. This is the part of my job that I enjoy the most.
What does your job entail?
I have to ensure individual sections within the front office department, such as reception, cashier, concierge and security, are performing to their fullest and in an efficient and smooth way. I also have to ensure guest’s needs are attended to satisfactorily and in a timely manner.
A core part of my role is also to initiate and design a training programme so that expectations, policies and procedures are all clearly communicated. From time to time I review the programme and also invite comments from the team to optimise it.
My role also requires frequent communication with different departments, particularly those with close guest contact, to identify issues and find solutions. All departments play a role in contributing to the overall experience of our guests.
What challenges have you encountered so far?
The biggest challenge is ever-changing guest expectations, and therefore our capacity to not only meet their needs but surpass them. I believe service with a personal touch, good communication with internal and external customers, and effective staff training are most important for this.
Another challenge is that I have a very young and dynamic team. Most of them are in their 20s and their thinking and attitude are quite different from my generation. In order to motivate them to take ownership of their roles and be interested in their jobs, I adopted their communication style and came up with different ways of coaching and training them. For example, I am open, share my own experiences and my comments about their performance, care about their feelings, and show recognition and appreciation of their contribution from time to time.
What are your professional plans?
I love the dynamic working environment in the hotel and the interaction with guests so I plan to stay with the operations department. I am very keen to get involved with the housekeeping department as it is the heart of the hotel. Housekeeping staff take care of guest’s needs in the room and are required to pay extra thought to ensure guests have a happy stay. To me this is very meaningful and challenging, and my goal is to achieve the role of director of rooms in three years.
What advice can you give those interested in the industry?
Be passionate about the job and the industry. It is very important for us to be happy at work, because it drives us to reach our goals, and also creates a healthy atmosphere within the workplace.
It is also important to be humble and honest to those you serve, while giving your best all the time.