Seventh Area of Experience
Driver experience check, now to be in charge of Drivers and Bell man- being a hotel Concierge
Another new year and guess what I am pack my bags for I have again been given a new contract and new country of destination to move to. This time it is an upgrade on the last one and I am happily greeted in Abu Dhabi by the very helpful United Arab Emirates nationals, also known locally as Emirati.
Honestly while I was in Bahrain for my 3 year stint I knew I would one day make my way to the land where Dubai is seen as the Capitol by outsiders but really isn’t. Abu Dhabi is the capitol and it has almost all the restrictions in place like Qatar does, but just isn’t like that regretful Qatar experience.
Now I was working for a 5 star resort once again, This time I was working for Anantara and more specifically for Qasr Al Sarab as this company had two properties then in Abu Dhabi and today It moved up to 3 properties in Abu Dhabi with another one on its way in Dubai. (not working in sales anymore though but interesting to know)
Just like in Bahrain I was given the opportunity to work smack in the middle of the desert , but this time it wasn’t just a 45 minute drive to the city like it was in Bahrain, no It was a whopping 2hours and 30 minutes’ drive from the city of Abu Dhabi till you reached the entrance of this resort.
This was the only resort in that area for the next hundred plus kilometers and civilization was further still as the city was located more than 200 km away and Dubai is located approx. 300 km away if you were wondering, you might ask why did they built this resort in the middle of nowhere?
Well the reality of the answer is that the most beautiful and biggest dunes of Abu Dhabi is located here so far away from the city, some say it was the Royal family that built it in memory of their passing father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Nahyan . (just another interesting fact)
and here I was a newly appointed “Concierge Agent” for Qasr Al Sarab. Collecting all my work experience I knew I wasn’t going to be confined to merrily do as my job descriptions documented. I knew I was going to get my hand in many areas regardless if my own responsibility was being letdown in some way. This happened and it was expected after all.
But after many layoffs endured in the concierge department upon my arrival it became certain that this country and company thrives on quickly laying off and employing as they see fit. Well this was unwelcome wen work force is what guarantees 5 start service doesn’t it? Even so It was my given opportunity to take what I have learned from all my previous experiences and truly make use of it.
I was not the only fresh new member at the Front office at that time, also joined was our Front Office Manager his name Andrew Burgerhoff, he was likely employed seeing that the previous FO manager saw herself also removed .
He seemed in honest description as I am now unhesitant to keep my silence to be somewhat a shy person and character to the lobby area which, to me was seen as a very troublesome quality to have in his given position. (All FO manager show a level of interaction in hospitality with the guest even if just seeking out guest with concerns before they develop)
I had myself believing at one point that they don’t do this in the US and that laid all my possible suspicions to rest.
As I started off in concierge with the lack of man power becoming obvious and keeping up with the bound and unbound duties mentioned or not mentioned in my contract agreement. I honestly for the beginning part of my experience as concierge felt overwhelmed by the phone calls, having to be in control of the bellman who sometimes seem to get their luggage’s wrongly delivered or not at all, arranging and corresponding via email or telephone with regards to transportation and other arrangements and further more managing the drivers accordingly with a drivers schedule printed and ready. (the hotel Operating system called Opera was used and again Bahrain has introduced this to me already)
One thing became obvious to me at this point between the immense phone calls for golf carts to be sent to the designated rooms of each guest requesting it. Luckily my Bahrain experience helped me greatly in understanding of what golf cart (Club Car or Buggy) service was as I was driving them frequently in that age of my Hospitality foot print. This was all the more reason for me to start looking at tweaking the system to better the results as the problem always seems to be the lack of golf carts and drivers after a period of time.
To continue one thing became obvious is that I needed to somehow manage the work coming in to streamline and improve on that to at least try and keep above the work demand. First thing I noticed is that emails with exactly the same request had to be typed from scratch and I started my own email templates. Luckily my experience in Sales during my Bahrain stint gave me an edge in composing emails as the associates I worked with for the most part battled with the English language barrier.
Next I realized that the current system of arranging transportation had to change. As we only arranged some transportation for the following day ahead of time if it was before the concierge duties started in the morning or if it was after our duties we would do it the same day.
I never felt I needed to be in charge but seeing that it was only me and one other Moroccan bellman that was newly promoted at that time that I realized I would need to take matters into my own hands to cope with the work at hand.
I decided that all transportation for the next day including the times we are on duty will be done the night before the actual day of the transportation. This meant that whoever worked afternoon shift has the task of making sure to arrange transfers for the next day regardless if the telephone calls were busy or if the concierge was needed else were. Seeing that I was afternoon shift for most of my Concierge agent carrier at Qasr Al Sarab I realized that this would be the perfect time to start what I set out to change.(till today this very system I started with the email templates and the new transport procedure even the way to enter transfer info to keep track of it in our Opera system was made by my efforts, even if I will not credited for it is and always remains my efforts in pure continues motion today)
If you know hospitality you will un questionable know of the struggles people face as they work with superiors that give advantage to their countrymen or the general lack of some of the manager , be they General Managers that believe something to be true and would accuse someone wrongfully.
For Example, let’s take my situation in Qasr Al Sarab :
If for some reason you are seen as a target and your Front Office manager (Andrew Burgerhoff) decides you are a treat to his position then he would probably take your partner being the Moroccan bell boy newly promoted and turn him against you as he realizes the concierge still has work to be completed and in an instance this Moroccan will become your adversary while still being a team member at the same time. Then you have the dynamics of what hospitality can bring to your doorstep when working with a team façade. (It sometimes eases the condition when you can tell your story but bear with me here)
Well even if I was labeled by my front office manager as a poor Concierge at that time my carrier to managers and even the General Manager and department heads you learn that strength is never seen only noticed after the word is out. But regardless for the fact that in hospitality you have to be aware and in most cases prepared for these sorts of unnecessary struggles, then you are probably on your way to blossoming in the hospitality industry.Well I went on to work for a reasonably long stint at Qasr Al Sarab barely surviving the probation period and ultimately outlasting the Horrible Front office manager Andrew Burgerhoff at that that time. He was later succeeded by a very disturbed Ukrainian lady, soft to the eye but bewilderedly menacing to the mind. Her name is Elena Nasledova I believe she finally understands what being a Front Office manager is all about, well I truly hope so.
Well even though I was put in a very knifing position with my counterpart and seeing him getting promoted as Chief of Concierge by the General Manager at that time was Mr. Soaied, Wael he is a Lebanon national and a Arabic speaker, guess what the Moroccan’s are good at speaking Arabic too.
after all this I still felt a sense of comfort that I was in a position, and to have been challenged to have made my own imprint even if it will go unnoticed or unlabeled, it was my chance to see what I could do in that given situation and I believe for the most part I highly succeeded in my goals that I set out for myself on this occasion.
One last brief note I started to understand all the work requirements given to me and the once not given but completed to the best of my human abilities and facing challenges of support with the lack there of. One thing is clear if you are not happy you can cut your losses and take your experience else were as I highly recommend that you do not settle at a company longer than one year if after one year no earned forward advancement or promotion is given then you will be smart to look elsewhere without procrastination.
Learn out of the resources you can and make sure you further yourself or move to a new location, the price of working abroad is you have no time to think about settling down if you have barely found yourself where you want to be unless you succumb to your own insecurities.