L is for Long Service

Long Service within the workplace: relating to a situation in which someone has worked for a particular organization for a long time. (Some definitions say 20 years or more)

I’ve been in the hospitality business for over twenty years and it only feels like yesterday when I accepted my first job at McDonald’s. I haven’t been at one particular organization for over twenty years, but I know of people who are and we both are dedicated to the hotel world, just in different ways. When I worked for CP Hotels, now Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, there were long service acknowledgements for employees celebration their long service starting at five years. It didn’t matter that you worked at different hotels within the chain, they were honoring your years of service and still do. I think if you are loyal to one organization for five years or more, that is considered long service.

Currently, where I work, we have long service awards for anyone celebrating their five years with us and every five-year milestone after that. This year we have an employee celebrating her fortieth year at the hotel. She has seen a lot and has some stories to tell. When I share this employees loyalty to the hotel, people give me a few reactions. One being, wow that speaks volumes about your employee retention (they really want to ask: what do you do to keep people for that long?), then I get the look of despair from potential new candidates, really? Forty years in the same position? Much like my thoughts about being a lifer in the serving world, that daunting thought has disappeared and I celebrate my journey in the hotel world!

When I started to serve in the luxury hotel in the Canadian Rockies, I heard the term, lifer. It simply meant that we called the people who had stayed on top of the mountain top resort for many years, a lifer. I was not going to become someone who would be serving tables for the rest of my life, or be in the hotel world for much longer. What’s that saying, Never say Never? I went to Lake Louise one summer to bus tables and gain more life experience, that was for five months – twenty plus years later, I may not be at the same property or even hotel chain, but I am in the hotel world just the same. Much like my writing, I have a commitment and will continue to be of service of others in whatever capacity that may be.

Until Next time, keep on typing. . . .

K is for Knowing

In the hotel life there is a sense of knowing your guests, but there is also a sense of knowing you are meant to be in this crazy hotel world by some grand scheme the universe has in store for you. I’m still not sure how much I am able to share of my hotel life, but I’m willing to give it a shot, just like I’m as eager to sit here and write and share the stories that have been whispered to me.

When I was younger I had this deep sense of knowing that I was to be of service. I was always helping my mother (not only because she told me to), and when I visited my grandparents I wanted to help them in the kitchen, bake pies with my grandmother because I loved watching people enjoy the delicious blueberry pies she seemed to know how to make from memory. She seemed to be joyful when she was serving others, she felt purposeful and wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of. I too wanted to make people smile when I helped them. When I told stories I would get a similar sense of enjoyment from family and I was as delighted as my Grandmother Berry with her baking pies.

When I first started as a busser in the Canadian Rockies I was trained on what to do; pour water when the guests sat down, bring the buns and butter after the server took their drink order, bus the table when the guests were finished their appetizer, entrée and dessert, tell the server if the guest told me they wanted more wine, or whatever else they needed to have an exceptional dining experience. Then clean and reset the table for the next guests to repeat the same service. Yet there was more to it, I knew what I had to do to make the servers happy to make the guests happy. There were many levels of guest service and I was part of the experience. There was a dance that I had to learn with the servers and once I understood the steps I was rewarded with a bigger tip and a fast track to becoming a server in one of the most Luxury Hotel & Resorts dining rooms. But more on that later.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

J is for Jumping

Some guests at a hotel can be a bit difficult and have us jumping at their beck and call. I have had my share of down right are you kidding me moments with the requests and odd behavior from guests.

When I was a server and a guest was not happy with their meal I was quick to jump and give the guest a free desert or a discount on their meal. The dining room manager or chef didn’t want a bad review. Really what did it cost to give a free piece of cake for dessert or turn a blind eye at the glass of wine they may suggest I offer and not account for it in the inventory. (Yeah, that happened once or twice. A night) It was in the day where people would bully their way out of paying for things if they were not getting the level of experience they were use to or perceived they were entitled too. Oh, wait, that still happens today.

When I moved from the food and beverage department to the front office department, I started as a royal service agent, basically a glorified hotel operator. There were four of us in the a small room with no windows and poor lightning. We were hidden from the rest of the departments but we had a lot of experience. If a guest called for a reservation we would transfer the call to the right person, pretty simple? Yes, at times. If a guest called for a reservation at a restaurant outside the hotel we helped them. Once a guest called me to ask if someone could go out and buy them nylons because she didn’t want to go out in the rain. She was on the Gold Floor, so her thought was if she as paying more she could have a personal assistant. I ended up going to the Bay and getting her nylons. Not one thank-you, just a smirk through the crack of the door as I slipped the nylons to her, like it was some kind of secret transaction.

It’s about making sure everyone is getting the same level of great service. There are still moments that we are being more alert with certain guests, but nothing like going to get nylons for guests because they don’t want to go outside in the rain. There seems to be an understanding with guests and if they want a high level of service then they will stay at those hotels that provide those certain things that no one questions. My only request is if you are used to luxury style hotels and you end up in a hotel that is not part of a chain or is a trendy boutique hotel, don’t expect it and don’t yell at the front desk agents because you get fuzzy slippers at one place and not at another. Like people, not all hotels are the same.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

I is for Interesting Guests

Coming in contact with interesting guests is a daily occurrence in my hotel life. Everywhere I go I see people as guests, I can’t help it. After 20 years in the hospitality business it will happen that the career you have chosen catches up to you and all of a sudden it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. I can not open a door for someone, it’s been ingrained in my world – I’ve been opening doors before my introduction to the hospitality world, my mother and father raised me with manners and if I didn’t say please or thank you, or open doors for people or give my seat up in the bus for my elders then I’d hear about it. In a way my childhood was preparing me for the hotel life.

Interesting guests get me through some pretty boring or bad days. All guests are equally important, but it’s the people who have a little something that I can see between the lines as they order their meal or as I check them in, or talk to them when making their reservation. My imagination and creativity pipes up and says ‘there’s a story here, what are they doing at the hotel, are they running from something? Meeting their secret lover? Have they lost someone or something?’ Working in a hotel feeds my people watching one hundred percent. These guests provide me with instant ideas for stories to be written.

I was serving two couples traveling together one night in the late 90’s, they were from somewhere in Texas and I had made small talk with them, made them laugh at my jokes, sold them expensive wine. When it came to desert time, one of the men told me he wanted plain old vanilla ice-cream. My reply was, you can have vanilla ice cream any day of the week, you’re here on top of this beautiful mountain hundreds of miles away from home, you can have our one of a kind strawberry flambe and have a story to tell your friends later about the big flame I’m going to show you when I add that liquor to the strawberries. The table looked at me and then their friend, I guess I didn’t know when he wanted something he usually got what he wanted. His remark back, Miss Ann (because people use to think Ann was my last name) you sold me and if you can do that you can sell anything, if you ever want to leave Canada, come see me. He handed me his business card, he was the owner of a few used car lots. Me, selling used cars? Very interesting indeed.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

 

H is for Hotel Life

As I as thinking of what to write about for the letter H, I was sitting in my car on my way home from work and like most of the ideas of what to write about, appeared very clearly. Hotel life. Then I wondered if I could maintain the theme of my hotel life for rest of the A to Z challenge? Why not? I will certainly try.

The Hotel life is something I haven’t shared about too much. A part of me wants to keep that part of my life separate from my writing life, however, they are one. The hospitality business has provided me with some pretty amazing opportunities and experiences that I am so grateful for. It has provided me with many stories to write (which are currently on note cards waiting to be written). The ideas and story lines come from a simple conversation with a guest or colleague. Some ideas pop into my head while I’ve worked on a buffet, replenishing scrambled eggs for another tor of fifty to heard through or sitting in the staff pub having a few pint with friends to blow off steam from a busy night in the dinner room or a busy check in at the front desk and dealing with angry guests who have nothing better to do but blame you for their poor choices.

The Hotel life moved me from Nova Scotia to Alberta and now Vancouver Island, I have seen and done some pretty incredible things and some not so amazing moments. I have lived in the Canadian Rockies working for Canadian Pacific and now re-branded Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.  have worked for Relais & Chateau Resorts and Best Western in Tofino, BC, then I left the corporate hotel world to independently owned and operated hotels that have pushed me even further in my personal and professional growth.

The main theme of every hotel I’ve worked at and every hotel is the same. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Being in customer service is hard work. You have to have your light switch always on to provide great service to people all the time. If you have a bad day at home you can’t bring that fight you had with our spouse, family or dog, it has to stay in the back while you smile and be friendly to the guests in front of you. Being part of a guests great experience is rewarding and fulfilling as any job that you enjoy. Like anything, the Hotel life has its ups and downs and I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t accept the job offer that one day to work in my first hotel and resort.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

G is for Gratitude

I am having a moment where I can’t think of something different to write about for the letter G. The top words I think of are:

  • Golf (I wrote about gold in last years A to Z challenge)
  • Gratitude
  • Greatness (my husband called this out when I asked him what comes to mind for the letter G. Not sure if he was talking about himself, haha)
  • Gravy (my husband again) and then I said while laughing out loud:
  • Good Gravy
  • Goodness
  • Going (only because we are packing as we are moving in a month and I’m happy to going to our place)
  • Green (I’m starting at my green fountain pen on my desk)

As you can see I’m at a loss at the moment. I just got home from a long day at the hotel life and what comes to mind about this blog challenge at the moment is, good gawd what have I gotten myself into? There are three g words there. I left work after a nine-hour day which I didn’t plan on, but when you are a manager and something goes wrong, you are the one to deal with it, then I got home and made dinner (to my husbands credit he started the process which is helpful), and the days events are still racing through my mind as I’m dicing a red pepper for the Farro salad for dinner. The word that comes to mind is Gratitude.

I am so grateful and full of gratitude for this very moment, to be right here on the page with you. I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity that is being provided to maintain this beautiful creative life that is fully intended. I am grateful to have fun with these blogs. I realize this is a pretty much a personal blog today and that’s okay because I’m doing what I need to be doing. Writing. I think I will take the letter H and write a bit more about the Hotel life.

If you are part of the A to Z blogging challenge, how is it going? Are you stuck on a letter? Do you prewrite your posts or do you write them the date of? I would love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

F is for the F-bomb

Words are powerful.

The f-bomb for those who may not be aware is using the f&% word randomly on a frequent basis, maybe because they can’t find another word to express the feeling, it can be a filler word, or it’s a habit from hearing it so often in society, movies, TV shows. I will be the first to admit that I use the f-bomb and not that this is an excuse, I am a Navy brat, I grew up around sailors and living on a Navy Base doesn’t help the cause, it’s bound to happen but again, no excuses.

When I was in junior high , my friends and I used the f-word like it was going out of style; hurry-up-and-use-it-before-it-goes-away type of hurriness. Then after a while, one of my friends said they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore because I swore to much. Ouch! I cried because my friend was the one who encouraged our filthy language, she made it out like it was our little secretly, see how long we can get away with it type of manipulation. A week later after I stopped myself from using any curse words, what do I hear? The very girl who befriended me for swearing. What the (insert your choice of word here).

Thirty years later I find myself cringing at the filler word and stop myself if I’m amongst friends and have the urge to let the word fly. It’s a habit that I am breaking. I ask myself is this the best version of me? Usually the answer is no and I chose a different work to describe my displeasure. As a writer it’s fun to find new words to slip into the vocabulary. My new word for displeasure; conniption, this makes me smile to let go of what no longer serves me.

Until next time, keep on typing….

 

 

 

 

 

What is your experience with cursing? Have you noticed a shift your language verses others? I would love to hear from you.