I managed to tick off one of the items on my bucket list: Work in F&B! I was invited to Grand Park City Hall (a 5-star hotel), given staff uniforms, and within 3 hours, I had the opportunity of working in F&B, housekeeping, and making a cameo at Reception as a HOST. :D
The hotel has a HOST program in which staff are trained to work in these 3 roles and get significantly higher pay than the other staff who are trained and work only in 1 role.
HOSTs get a fast track up the Progressive Wage Model, NOT by working longer hours, but by working smarter, being more productive and having more skills to contribute to various departments which are facing backlogs
They are empowered to earn more than the minimum salary per job title and they can ‘climb’ up the career ladder based on their capabilities and effort.
The HOST program re-designs traditional roles to enhance employee skills and workforce flexibility through multi-skilling. So during peak periods, the HOST is fluid and skilled enough to be transferred to other sections which may be short of staff. This helps Park Hotel manage the manpower shortage faced in the hospitality industry.
I left the hotel with newfound respect for hotel staff after that learning journey.
I entered the hotel in my sparkly gold dress and Hello Kitty shoes, and had to change into black uniforms for each role. HR also found me some black covered shoes. I was even given a nametag; which signaled that things were getting serious.
First up, my stint in the F&B department…
Thankfully, there were no actual customers at that time as lunch hour had passed. So it was just a role-play. I had two pretend customers, and all they ordered was juice.
As luck would have it, the kitchen had a sudden flood of orders from hotel guests who wanted food sent up to them. So the juice for these two customers took an exceedingly long time to be prepared.
I eventually spotted the lady casting anxious yet amused glances in my direction.
What I learnt:
1) Don’t offer freebies – I was more than happy to offer my guests some dessert to make up for the long wait. I must have truly felt at home. LOL.
2) Let a supervisor / manager appease angry guests – If guests are really upset, let a manager handle the situation. Usually, in the face of ‘authority’, guests are easily appeased.
3) Repeat the order before walking away from the table.
*Guess what, after this learning journey, I found myself at Xin Wang Hongkong Cafe at Plaza Singapura around 5.45pm on a weekday when there weren’t many diners yet. Our order was taken by a lady who looked like a manager, because of the outfit she was wearing. I took the trouble of repeating the order for our table of three for her. And she still managed to get it wrong, and sent us an item we didn’t order. *facepalm* On top of that, our food took really long to be served, considering there were few customers at that time, and we were nearly late for our movie. Ordinarily, I would not have hesitated about sending feedback to the company. But this time, I let it slide. It truly is tough working in F&B. On top of being on your feet all the time, you have to be careful not to spill anything or drop and break anything. Customers tend to be hungry and grouchy and if you get their orders wrong, some might give you a tongue-lashing.
Having experienced the shortest of stints in F&B, I thank staff sincerely when my food is served, and not just for demonstrating good manners. I thank those who bring me to a table, and especially those who serve the food and drink. As wait staff, it’s definitely encouraging to be appreciated by those you are serving. So, complain less, praise more, and be a better customer, ok? :D
I was truly privileged to be taught by Jun Jie, who loves his work!
First you have to load up the heavy trolley with fresh bedlinen and all, then roll the trolley out to the rooms. In the room, you have to strip the bed, and then give it fresh bedlinen as if you have OCD (the lines on the duvet cover have to be parallel to the sides of the bed, everything must look straight and crisp, etc).
And the pillows must be placed in such a fashion that the openings on the pillowcases must be facing each other (in the center of the bed) and not outwards. And don’t even get me started on the bedsheet – at the four corners of the bed, it must be folded and tucked it precisely, with that nice straight line at the corner:
At least Park Hotel has installed an Ezy-maid system under the mattress which makes a house-keeper’s work easier, smarter and safer. The Ezy-maid helps to lift the heavy mattress up, so your hands are free to tuck the covers in properly.
And, of course, the bathroom…
On top of replenishing the toiletries, and cleaning the toilet bowl, bath tub, etc, room attendants have to leave the bathroom DRY. What this means is you wipe down everything.
I was happy to let the bath tub dry on its own after giving it a scrub-down, but nooooo… I had to dry it with a towel so there’ll be no water stains after.
What I learnt:
1) Details, details, details! Some guests are extremely particular about how the room looks, so every corner of the bedsheet must be tucked it neatly, the bathroom must be dry, and there must not be any funky smells in the room!
2) Don’t wait around for things to happen. While the Ezy-Maid system is automatically raising the bed to a more back-friendly level, do something else, like removing pillowcases, etc.
3) Work smart – make sure your trolley has all the correct bedlinen you require. If you have to rush back to the pantry to retrieve a missing bedsheet, you are definitely not going to turn around this room in good time.
I felt so tired after ‘refreshing’ this room (I didn’t have the chance to vacuum the carpet because we were running short of time) that I told everyone present I will not mess up hotel beds anymore. I’ll probably just sleep on the cover from now on. It’s so much work for room attendants, who are also assessed based on time taken to refresh a room!
3) Front Desk
I didn’t get to do much at front desk besides listening to a quick introduction of their duties. When the phone rang, I didn’t dare to answer it as who knows what the guest on the other end of the line could want, right? I let the professionals do the job. :D
*pose for a photo*
It’s not easy working at Reception either. A lady walked up to us with a huge frown on her face, and asked to call one of the rooms. It seems that her friend was late for an appointment with her, and she could not get in touch with the person.
I was told that people who walk up to the counter to request to phone a particular guest must have their particulars verified or recorded, because guests should not be disturbed unnecessarily, especially if this guest in question is a celebrity.
Lots of thanks to the patient and ever-smiley Jun Jie for showing me the ropes, and Amrit for teaching me how to be a good HOST :)
Do fill out a compliment card for these two the next time you visit Grand Park City Hall. It’ll help tremendously in their careers! :) And don’t be surprised too if you find that the front desk staff who assisted with your check-in yesterday, is the one serving you in the restaurant today, and cleaning your room after you leave the hotel tomorrow! You may have just met a multi-skilled HOST! :D
Let the HOST team share more with you in the video below: