Yesterday I had the privileged of visiting the Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia, PA (I-76 is a scary road, just a side note). This was my first experience with a TRUE Boutique Hotel (The Rocking Horse Ranch is NOT boutique, no matter how much they insist they are) and I was very excited for what the hotel and its staff had in store for me!
I began my day at noon where I was welcomed by the GM. He was a very friendly man who told me he had some business to see to but would catch up with me later. I was first able to shadow the front desk/ guest services team. This small group of young ladies and gentlemen were eager to help each guest that came their way, something I always look for in the hotels I stay in. The decor of the check in room, which they actually refer to as “The Living Room” was gorgeous! Check out their website if you want a look at what their interior designer has done with the place. The front desk team was just becoming acquainted with a new rewards program for the hotel so it was interesting to see that. A lot of the work they did was similar to the work I did while I interned for the Lake Raystown Resort and Conference Center last summer, just on a much more professional and technological level. The room keys used wireless technology to allow access into the rooms, the guest folios had specific preferences (room location, snack or drink preference, etc.) and as much information on the guest as could possibly be gathered from their previous stays. A lot of the different interfaces were connected together and worked in unison to pass important information across the board to as many different departments as possible. This kind of advance technology is what I LOVE to see in a good hotel, especially when it is being utilized to its maximum potential.
When I spoke to the Front Desk Manager, I asked a lot about the work-life balance, the pros and cons of the job, his history with the company and with hotels in general, and many other topics. The job of a Front Desk Manager seems tough at times with its constant moving and complains from guests, but it does provide the most face-to-face interaction that I saw within the hotel, which I love. The hours are un-ordinary sometimes (3 pm-midnight or 7 am-3 pm are typical) which can be tough when you have a family or even just a partner. But overall, the idea of leading a team like this, going the extra mile for special guests to provide them with the best experience possible seems like a lot of fun to me. I love making people happy, and with the budget that the hotel has, they make that happen every day.
Next I met with the Public Relations/ Social Media person for the hotel. The cool thing about the Hotel Monaco is that they rarely, if at all, pay for advertisements. They rely heavily on word of mouth and reviews in newspapers, magazines, etc. to get their message across. Their website is also very detailed and helpful to get the company’s image across to guests. But the woman I spoke with works with connecting those pieces together. She mainly utilizes social media platforms to keep the hotel looking good and make sure guests are representing the hotel in a positive manner as well. If someone complains on Facebook or something, she does all that she can to help right the wrong. In the way of media coverage, she puts together press releases and other packets to get important writers and celebrities to stay at the hotel and then write about it, hopefully in a good light. The job seems fun in that she is able to interact with guests a little over the web and occasionally in person, and she gets to meet interesting people and sell the Hotel Monaco image to them. There is also a lot of travel involved as well, and a lot of writing.
I then moved on to shadow the head of housekeeping, something I had never done before! I have worked in many different facets of a hotel, but housekeeping is not one of them surprisingly. I was taken around the hotel, shown all the different styles of rooms and the different amenities that are offered to guests. I then helped inspect some of the rooms for cleanliness, helped restock the minibars, and then watched the process of making a bed from scratch. The whole experience was very cool, definitely different from what I had imagined. The one thing that surprised me was the use of technology with housekeeping. The minibars have a sensor that goes off when they are opened, telling housekeeping that they need to be checked for restocking. Also, they use a tablet to keep track of other minibar information and of the status of the rooms sometimes (unfortunately the tablet wasn’t working too well the day I visited…) The job is very intense, always on your feet, running around to different parts of the hotel to do different projects. This is where the most teamwork is really needed between all the employees. Each room must look exactly the same, so the same procedures must be taken every time a room is cleaned. Though it seems like it would be fun for a day or two, I don’t think I belong in housekeeping. There is very little interaction with people (some of the maids do leave notes for their guests though, which is VERY cool, and pretty cute too), and very little satisfaction (in my opinion) from the work that is done. Therefore, housekeeping isn’t for me. But if it is for you, then kudos to you!! :)
When I sat down with the GM at the end of the day of shadowing, I realized just how much I had experienced of the hotel. I loved every second of it! Even though most of the jobs I had performed, I had never done them on a level as high as this. I enjoy luxury and high end hotels and restaurants, and to be behind the working of one would be a incredible. I can safely say that I prefer Boutique over normal hotels because of the atmosphere, the fun, the small (yet personal) number of guests, and how attention to detail is taken.
Speaking with the GM about his job (something I had yet to do) was very cool as well. He described the work he does as “making sure none of the trains get derailed. And if they do, putting out the fires and setting them back on their tracks.” I think this is very cool because he deals with every facet of the hotel, travels a lot, and though he works long and strange hours, he fits a lot into his time at the hotel. He is the highest person in house that can deal with an issue, and though that is a great responsibility, it’s also an amazing challenge that I may want to attempt one day…
Like always, if you have any questions about my experience at the Hotel Monaco, feel free to ask!! :) Hope everyone has a fantastic Wednesday! HUMP DAY!