As I have not yet started at Les Roches, this article will be about my internship experience at a hotel in Hong Kong called ‘east’ where I have been working as a hostess these past two and a half months.
I do not come from a hospitality background and this was the first time where I switched roles and was not the customer, but on the other side. I was incredibly nervous the first week since I wasn’t confident to deal with customers.
Even after my short time there, I have gained the skills needed to be a good hostess; organisation, communication and hard work. The beauty of being in hospitality is that no two days are ever the same. There is never a sense of repetition at the lounge. It was a very steep learning curve for me, learning how to use the ResPAK (table, reservation and guest management) system, how to approach customers and make them feel welcome and how to balance the demands of both the guests and managers. Since being in the hotel industry for this short time, I can already recognize the difference between good and bad service and honestly am much more appreciative when the former is apparent.
Although I feel comfortable at the desk, you should never slacken on your attention to detail and care of the customers that walk through the door. Our lounge is extremely busy during the week as the hotel is situated in one of the newer, more developed business districts of Hong Kong overlooking Victoria Harbour and onto Kowloon side. The doors of Sugar (the name of the lounge) open at 5pm, and usually by 6.30pm we are full with everyone wanting to sit outside on the deck to make the most of our Sundowner drinks and the sunset.
As a consequence the requests to sit outside are long, and sometimes the wait to do so is even longer. I found out, the hard way, what lengths disgruntled customers will go to to get ‘better’ service. Unfortunately, one particularly busy evening I was subject to abuse from a customer who had waited long for his drinks, and too long to sit outside. Despite, apologising and trying to rationalise with him that there was a waiting list the customer wouldn’t listen and started shouting and becoming extremely rude. I quickly assured him that I would do my best for him, and made a hasty exit not back to the hostess desk but to the back of the store room where I cried. I was upset that he yelled and had embarrassed me but I felt that it was greatly unjust and grossly unfair.
My fellow colleagues all reassured me that unfortunately this is part of the learning process and a common part of service, and it wouldn’t be the last time I would have to deal with difficult customers. So drying my tears, and putting on my best smile, I carried on with the evening as if nothing had happened. The customer even came up to me to apologize – though, naturally not before he had been given his outside seat!
I, unlike many others who haven’t experienced the service industry, was wrong in my initial judgement that you just wait on customers. It is so much more than that. I really enjoy interacting with customers and, when I go home early in the morning, I like to think that they have also had an enjoyable time too.