Royal Roads Tourism

Victoria, BC


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A Day in the Life of a Shangri-La Suzhou Hotel Internship! – Joe Chen

Shangri-La SuZhou hotel(SLSZ) is located in the SuZhou New District. SuZhou is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province, adjacent to Shanghai. It is one of the fastest developing cities in China, has over 2,500 years of rich history. The integration and conflicts between traditional and modern culture make this city very unique.

As one of the most luxury five star hotels in Suzhou, SLSZ has 410 rooms,  include 275 Deluxe Rooms, 86 Horizon Club Rooms, 29 Premier Suites and 20 Serviced Apartments. At the first floor, the hotel has a Lobby Lounge, it provides 78 seats and offers cocktails, wine, soft drink, snacks and the library, next to the Lobby Lounge is the hotel’s Café Soo, “Soo” is the pronunciation of “Su”. Café Soo has 196 seats and provides breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet. As SLSZ has a lot of Japanese customers, a Japanese restaurant is available in the same floor. At the 2nd floor are three ballrooms and a Chinese restaurant – Shang Palace, it offers different Chinese cuisine. Spa and gym are located at the 5th floor. The building includes totally 51 floors. From 6th floor to 27th floor are lending to other companies. Guest rooms are available from 28th floor to 51th floor. The Horizon Club Lounge is located at the 48th floor and servers only from floor 43rd floor to 48th. After one month working at the concierge (June 6th to July 11th), I moved to Horizon Club Lounge and started supporting the Food and Beverage section (another section is front desk).


Different department has different shifts. In Horizon Club Lounge there are four types of shifts-A,B,D,S. Because Horizon Club Lounge provides breakfast buffet from 6:30am to 10am, colleagues of shift A need to start working from 6am to 3pm, Shift B is from 14:15 to 11pm, mainly support the “Happy Hour” dinner buffet, Shift D is the manager’s shift which is from 8:30 to 17:30. Shift S is from 7am to 11am and 5pm to 9pm.

Here is a day in my life of the shift B

After lunch I went out from home to the bus stop. It was 12:45pm when I got the stop. The bus arrived very soon. It took me about half an hour to get the hotel. After I changed my uniform, it was about 1:45pm. It took me quite a while to wait for the elevator – because it located at the 48th floor. When I got Horizon Club Lounge it was nearly 2pm. I walked around to check the whole area and stayed at the Horizon Club front desk to wait for my colleagues. Another shift B colleague Grace arrived at 14:10.
Shift A Sandy and Joy handed over to us. Ten minutes later, Grace and I went down to the Back Office. Front Office includes six small departments. They are front desk (FD), back office, business centre (BC), service centre (SC), concierge and horizon club (HC). All B shift staff from each small FO department will get together at the back office before we start working every afternoon. The duty manager Peter shared the customer information with us. The occupancy was around 70% and there were several VIP arrivals need to pay attention. Grace reported that our coffee machine was broken and we would take the coffee machine from business centre to replace ours. Peter agreed because BC rarely uses it. The department meeting ended at 2:35. I went to the BC to get the machine and grace went to floor B1 to get our linens.
One of the major tasks of B shift is to prepare for the “Happy Hour” and tomorrow’s breakfast buffet. Grace needed to stay at the front desk to do same paper work and handle guest’s check in/out. I stayed in the kitchen to fold the napkins. I need to prepare for 76 seats; each needs need to 2 napkins which means I need to fold at least 152 napkins. Besides these, I also need to prepare the tableware for today’s evening and tomorrow morning. It was a very “boring” and “lonely” two-hour period. Sometimes we will have some guest come in and request for some snacks and soft drinks. But because we only serve horizon club guests (Floor 43rd to 48th) and most of them are business travelers, very few customers will come during the afternoon. 16:57, the S shift Amy came and I went to have dinner. We have 30 minutes to finish it and have a little rest. When I went back, everything was set perfectly. We have five hot dishes, fresh vegetables and salads, smoked salmon, fruits, nuts, desserts, ice-cream and cheeses.


All of these food and drinks are free during these two hours. My job is to lead customers to their seats, offer drinks, add dishes and take empty plates. I will also chat with the customers to get their comments and suggestions. Some regular customers and long-stay customers are very familiar with us. We usually have around 30 customers per evening, and today there were 27.

After the “happy” hour we need to put everything back to the kitchen. It took Grace and me half an hour to finish it. After this, one of us will count the drinks to calculate the cost and another one will count the tableware in case if we lost anything. When we finish this it was about 21:00. Shift S need to move some clean plates to the outside because we need them for tomorrow. Amy’s tasks were all done after she finished this. My next mission is to set the table. I need to change the linens on the table, put egg menu, pepper and salt, toothpick, sugar, and jams on the middle of the table with a strict order. This task took Grace and me about an hour. About 22:15, everything was done. I can finally have a rest. About 22:45, I started to close the area. All the air-confectioners needed to be closed, the meeting room, two side entrances, kitchen, two storages all needed to be locked. Grace was at the front desk to close cashier. It was almost 11 o’clock; we called the security to come up to check everything. When I got home, it was almost twelve o’clock. There are many details I do not have enough time to explain. My supervisor said that it usually took a trainee two to four weeks to become familiar with the Horizon Club Lounge F&B section and only after three months a trainee can start touch front desk tasks.

Here is the picture of my supervisor Betty

and the manager Annie

I was just accepted by the Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts Corporate Trainee program. It is a 16-month training program. From August 15th, I will start my first phase at Shangri-La Suzhou Hotel with a two-month Hotel Orientation. I will go to ten departments to get a clearer understanding of hotel operations. It is really a good chance for me to see how things work at a hotel and experience the Shangri-La philosophy.

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A Day in the Lift of Crystal Yang in Banyan Tree Hangzhou

The Dawn

When the golden sunshine breaks the darkness, the entire Hangzhou city quietly wakes up with the whisper of birds. And the lung of Hangzhou, the beautiful Xixi Wetland also emerges from the light fog.  The hotel I’m working for, Banyan Tree Hangzhou is right next to the wetland, where is called the Westbrook Resort (Xixi Haven) now.

Hangzhou – The Heaven on Earth: The Lotus in West Lake

The Xixi Wetland

“Is this all I’ve been searching for, is this all I’ve been waiting for….” One of my favoured songs recently resounded in the room at 6:30 and I quickly mute it within 5 seconds.  Slightly open my eyes and look around, luckily that my alarm didn’t wake up the other five roommates.  At 6:45, my second alarm sounds and this time I really need to kiss my lovely bed and say goodbye to it.

The morning routine takes about 45 minutes to refresh myself.  Of cause, the most important part is the makeup.  As a profession front office staff, my appearance is also part of the first impression of the resort.  Appropriate makeup makes me look fresh, smart, profession and friendly.  Living in a residence with colleagues doesn’t give me the chance to cook breakfast myself, I have to grab a quick breakfast from the tiny food shop near the residence and finish it before I on board the shuttle bus 7:40.

Smile & Be Confidence

       The sign in process is easy and quick with the finger print identify system.  The locker room is already crowed at this moment, ladies from each department are standing in front of the mirror to do the final check of their appearance – makeup, hair and uniform – everything should meet the standards of Banyan Tree.  With the beautiful Chinese style uniform, I finish the final check of my appearance before I enter the front house.  Telling myself in my mind that “Crystal, get ready, work hard and enjoy the job”, the smile on my face gives me a great beginning and the confidence I need for my day.

Preparation

There are lots of things to do when I arrival the front office. The first thing I do is to check the log book and chart with staffs who is working the morning shift to see if there’s any important information I need to know (what happened last night, any special request from guests, things that need to be follow up, & any message for other departments – especially the reservation and sales department).  Then it is necessary to check the Opera system to know how many people will stay over, departure and arrive.  This information is crucial in terms of create the first impression as it help us prepare our signature welcome drinks and towels.

Going over the profile of each guest prepares me for the later communication with other departments such as housekeeping and concierge.  The white board in the office is always a helper that talks the small details of our daily operation.  Making sure we have enough towels and drink for the morning, I’m ready for my shift at 8:30AM.  Seems lots of things to do, the key is to check everything efficiently and get ready for the day.

Be the Operator and more…. the Guest Service

Answering phones sounds easy and simple, but that’s not the case for us in the Banyan Tree.   The guest service agents who are actually doing lots of other things.  The following is what I need to do:

1). Of course, transfer external/internal calls to different departments

2). Deliver the last night’s messages to the related departments

3). Record and deliver messages for other departments if they are busy and department heads if they are attending the morning meeting

4). Handle requests from the in house guests and arriving guests by contacting related departments and doing the follow up (clean the room, arrange transportation, order the In Suit/Villa Dining, late Check Out, & etc.)

5). Book Spa & restaurant appointments for guests if these outlets aren’t open yet

6). Be the information source for guests and potential guests (provide information like room types, room rate, facilities, location, direction, information of Xixi Wetland and Hangzhou, our promotions & etc.)

As front office staff, I need to know almost everything in the hotel which can influence the experience of each guest.

       

Banyan Tree Hanzghou

Lunch…With the General Manager

Although today is now the busiest day of the week, it is still a busy day for us in order to satisfy the guests’ requests and to assist everyone who calls the resort.  Time flies and it’s time for lunch.  Typical Hangzhou dishes are served in our staff cafeteria, which mostly use the local and signature Hangzhou ingredients.  With my lunch, I seat beside the biggest table and wait for other colleagues and General Manager because I am invited to attend today’s GM meal.

This regular gathering with GM is always a good time to know the new colleagues, to know what’s happening in the hotel and to share our experience in the hotel.  Great comments are shared to encourage us, but of course, the bad ones to motivate us to improve the service.  The future plan of Banyan Tree is also mentioned to ensure we know the development of the brand and the opportunity of career development.

 Gift from the GM meal: Fan with Our Map

The Peak of the Day – Make Teamwork Your Responsibility

The time between 12:30pm and 4:00pm is always the busy to time for us.  If needed, like today, I will assist the resort hosts to check the rooms and place the personalized welcome card for arrival guests.  Walking in the resort is also my small exercise for the day while enjoying the beautiful scene.

Making sure that the rooms, welcome drinks and towels are ready is crucial parts of the check-in preparation.  Guests usually arrive after our afternoon briefing at 2:30pm.  Knowing what’s happening in the resort prepares everyone for the rest of the day.  When lots of guests arrive at the same time, teamwork always makes things go smoothly and easier.  I greet the guests, serve the welcome drinks and towels and collect IDs.  All of these help our resort hosts to efficiently check in guests while creating a great first impression.

Escorting guests to the suite/villa is always a fun job.  The unobtrusive conversation during this period gives me the chance to introduce the resort, up sell the services we provide and notices some special wants and needs.

Be Trained or Train

It is more quiet after 3:15pm and several regular trainings (Trainings for English, Hangzhou’s Tourism Hotspots, local souvenirs ant etc.) usually are hold around 3:30pm while the bit of the day slow down.  However, there is not training today so I use this time to teach the new employees in order to ensure they know the general information of the hotel.  I’m responsible to ensure that they know the resort, and the services/products Banyan Tree Hangzhou offers before they learn the specific jobs from their mentors.

After the this, I will update the training manuals if I found something information is unclear or is not mentioned.  This is also the time for the new staff to observe how to use proper language and how to handle some guest requests.  However, I like to catch every possible chance throughout the day to teach them rather than making the training time boring.

Sweet Night

Around 5:00pm, my shift is almost done.  I double check the log book to ensure all the guests’ requests are done or need to be follow up.  Then I record important issues on the operator’s book so that my colleagues can do the follow up later.  The last thing I do is to set up the lobby for the night.  The romantic set up of candle lights and rose makes the night of the resort an unforgettable experience.

Romantic Evening Set Up of the Lobby

Saying goodbye to my colleagues, a long day is ended and I am going to charge myself with the delicious Hangzhou cousin.  Tomorrow is my day off so it’s time to explore this beautiful, city which is known as the “Heaven on Earth” in china.  Ciao and have a sweet dream!

Life in Hangzhou

The Copper Museum: Copper Lotus

“Sir. Do you want more tea?”

The House of  a Qing Dynasty’s Government Officer