You would’ve thought that being a Management Trainee means that you’re fresh out of university, and that you’re just starting off your career. That’s not the case for Aki. Aki joined the Ovolo family in June 2018 as an Ovolo Ambassador (Front Desk Agent). Nine months later, she continued her professional journey with them as a Management Trainee.
Aki’s road to a career in hotel management isn’t what you’d normally expect. As a matter of fact, she used to work in trading. Her career took a sharp change in direction when she spent a year taking a working holiday in Australia, and discovered her passion for customer-facing positions. She decided to study Hotel Management in Australia, before returning to Hong Kong to find jobs in the hotel industry.
▲ Views inside Ovolo Southside.
Aki’s day-to-day routine is very customer-focused. Her day normally starts with preparing relevant documents for the day as well as checking guests in or out. When she is not helping customers face-to-face, she interacts with them through phone calls and email correspondence. Sometimes, she even acts as their tour guide! To Aki, the most challenging part is finding the balance between being friendly with guests, but also upholding the professionalism that a hotel employee should demonstrate.
Working at the front-desk means you have to handle a lot of unexpected events. Aki’s most memorable moment was when her manager showed her that Ovolo always cares about their employees. They don’t believe necessarily believe that the traditional motto of “the customer is always right", is true.
“The hotel was fully booked,” she recalled, “but this guest requested to upgrade to a larger room during check-in.” With all rooms occupied, Aki informed the customer that they cannot be upgraded, and the guest was not particularly happy. I’m sure you can imagine the reaction of an unhappy guest, which surely can be quite distressing for a hotel employee too.
In the end, Aki’s manager stepped in to deal with the situation professionally, promising to give the customer an upgrade as soon as there were rooms available. To Aki, her manager’s response showed that while the hotel values customer satisfaction, they would not sacrifice their employees’ happiness to achieve that goal. This is something that front-line employees like Aki truly appreciates.
Designed stylishly, rooms at Ovolo Hotel are the perfect venue for celebrations. Whenever guests call to reserve a room for special occasions, Aki and the other employees will go the extra mile and give the room a festive make-over. Aki shared that many leave rejoiced, thanking them for their efforts. To her, these little comments are what motivate her to keep going.
When Vanna spoke with Aki, she was still adapting to life as a Management Trainee. She’s given more opportunities to develop her managerial skills, like making decisions on allocating manpower and materials. On top of her existing responsibilities, Aki now has to look at the bigger picture and see how she can best utilise different resources.
Aki loves that she can chat with guests on her shift. She also enjoys the flexibility that Ovolo Hotel gives their employees. They are free to take charge and own their career. At Ovolo, they firmly believe that you can make your guests happy, but only when you are too.
▲ Aki loves chatting with guests on her shift
Lauren is an Assistant Guest Service Manager (AGSM) at Ovolo Hotel. Like Aki, she found her way to the hotel management industry through a working holiday in Australia.
Lauren was unsatisfied with her F&B job, which was why she went to Australia for a working holiday. There, her fluent English and Mandarin landed her a position at Ovolo Woolloomooloo in Sydney. By the end of her working holiday, she was recommended to management in Hong Kong. She ended up joining the Management Trainee programme, and eventually got promoted to her current role.
Soon after she completed the Management Trainee programme, Lauren was appointed as an Assistant Guest Service Manager, where she coordinates cross-department communication and performs front desk duties. Cross-department communication can involve liaising with the Sales department about room occupation data, or managing the communication between engineers.
▲ Views inside Ovolo Southside.
“When I was a Management Trainee, I only needed to perform Front Desk duties. However, I now shoulder more responsibilities, as I have to oversee duties within my department and across different teams,” Lauren shared. She added that she would now plan her tasks for the coming week, month, or even quarter, to see how projects must fit into the hotel’s operation.
Lauren believes that as a manager, her biggest duty is to facilitate. Her goal is to help her team with their duties, which is why she doesn’t mind working alongside them in the front-line.
On top of that, Ovolo Hotel holds regular training sessions for their employees. These sessions give employees the opportunity to share with management the difficulties they face day-in-and-day-out, and suggest ways in which they can improve to help make their jobs better or easier.
Working at the Front Desk means no two days are the same. Guests may oversleep and need to rush through check-out, or they could be unhappy about their room and request a different room. When it comes to handling guests’ complaints and requests, Lauren tries to accommodate, but also stresses the importance of being firm in what is right and wrong.
She recalled an incident where a guest made a reservation at Ovolo Hotel through an agency, and was upset about their room. The guest asked to be moved to a bigger room. However, their booking was made under the condition that room type is not guaranteed. With all rooms occupied for that evening, Lauren regretfully informed them that there are no other rooms available.
Naturally, the guest was displeased. Lauren explained that it was a miscommunication between the guest and the agency, and suggested that they book directly through the hotel next time.
Lauren stressed that when similar situations arise, the most important thing is to see if a mistake was made. If the answer is yes, then she would immediately apologise and rectify. However, if the guest simply had a change of mind, then she would try her best to accommodate.
Lauren loves the bond she has with her colleagues. They often hang out during the weekend, or grab dinner together after work.
When it comes to work, she explained that the company trusts their employees and gives them flexibility on their interaction with guests. Unlike traditional industrial practice, front desk employees at Ovolo Hotel do not need to be robotic and greet guests with the same script.
To Lauren, this flexibility is a good case in point showing how Ovolo’s mission of “Shiny Happy People” makes life better for people working there.
Want to join Aki and Lauren? Check out the latest job opportunities at Ovolo Hotel!
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