Claire has a BA in Hospitality Management and Leisure Planning and is currently operations manager at Premier Inn in Coventry city centre.
The Whitbread graduate programme gave me a year’s graduate placement in the company, with structured management development and support, giving me the platform to apply for my current operations manager position.
Part of my degree was in hospitality management so my area of study was extremely relevant. The modules dealing with hotel systems, revenue management, restaurant and kitchen management, accountancy and human resources have all been really useful.
My current main responsibilities are the day-to-day running of both reception and housekeeping within the hotel. I ensure that our hotel complies with all company policies, from brand standards to finance and health and safety.
I am responsible for looking at the revenue management of the hotel, so we achieve the optimum revenue to beat the budget that we have been set. This means I have to be fully aware of my local market and competitors.
I am involved in sales activity and networking within the area in order to publicise the hotel. I also make financial forecasts that help us make critical decisions which get reported to our senior managers.
I am committed to developing my team, using regular reviews to determine their career aspirations and to get them into the positions that they aspire to be in.
My role constantly evolves as I develop and my general manager and Whitbread are very committed to my development. There are so many opportunities within Whitbread, but my career ambition is to become a general manager and to start opening new hotels as Premier Inn expands within the UK and overseas.
No day is ever the same when you are dealing with different guest and team members' needs. I enjoy working with people and developing a team to give outstanding customer service. I like that I am constantly learning and I enjoy being challenged.
Dealing with people, whether team or guests, can be a challenging part of the role. With a team, it is difficult to please everyone and you sometimes have to make decisions that do not suit every person. However, you still need to engage the team to deliver great service to the guests.
There is always a new situation or something new to learn. You have to be really hands-on and prepared to deal with whatever situation you are in, particularly when you are the duty manager and therefore the most senior person on site. You also have to work on the business strategically, knowing your market and using commercial acumen and influence to continually deliver a great performance.
The hospitality industry can be very rewarding when you manage to exceed guests' expectations and you are part of a successful team.
You need to have a strong commitment and passion to work in this industry and be aware that hotels are 24/7 so you do need to put the hours in to be successful and be prepared to work the shifts. You also need to be prepared to be hands-on when necessary and as a manager you will still be very operationally based. If you are committed to work hard, fast progression within a large company is possible and can be very rewarding.
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