Comment: Smells like team spirit

Crystal Chesters reflects on the recent Hotelier Middle East Awards

Crystal Chesters, deputy editor
Crystal Chesters, deputy editor

Reflecting on my first Hotelier Middle East Awards, I couldn’t help wondering what created such an incredible buzz about the event. On October 29 I was amazed to see 600 people dressed in their finest in the ballroom of InterContinental Dubai Festival City, all supporting their team mates and enjoying the entertainment and networking opportunities.

From the day nominations opened on April 1 until August 31, the day they closed, more than 550 submissions were received across 19 categories, from GM of the Year, to Young Hotelier to the much-loved Unsung Hero of the Year.
Nominations came in thick and fast from right across the GCC and North Africa and they were fascinating, inspiring and heart-warming.

Given the sheer volume of entries received, being one of the 19 winners really is an incredible achievement. These individuals are the envy of their colleagues. They go above and beyond, giving up their own time to help others succeed; they spearhead events, initiatives and projects that make their properties stand out against the competition.

And yet what struck me most was that speaking to the trophy holders off-stage, the Hotelier team and the judges received such humble comments, with individual successes often attributed to team members. It certainly was not a red-carpet ego-trip for the winners.

For example, Atlantis vice president of PR Andrea Krenn, winner of PR/Marketing Person of the Year said: “I’m proud to receive the award but it’s actually in the name of our team because we have amazing people working at Atlantis.”

And Laundry Manager of the Year, Raghu Harihar, director of laundry operations at Doha Marriott Hotel said: “I am just a normal showpiece, it’s the team [that’s important]. I could not be at this stage right now if they were not there.

“I’m just the guy standing on stage to receive the award but I wish the rest of the team was there.”

The graciousness with which the Awards were accepted only served to highlight the calibre of the winners. What the judges looked for and found, were individuals whose nominations really gave us a sense of why someone had taken the time to fill in a 16-question form dedicated to their achievements.

In how many industries does that sort of colleague-appreciation exist? In most jobs, we trundle in, we sit down at our desks and we get on with our own tasks. We barely glance up from our computers to wish our colleagues a good morning; communication is limited to the occasional, begrudged offer of a cup of tea. Nominating a colleague for an award would seem far beyond the realms of imagination in most industries.

But hoteliers are different; they have such incredible team spirit and to me, this is why enthusiasm for the Hotelier Awards hasn’t dwindled in the slightest in its 10 years of existence; in fact it has grown over time, and in 2014 proved more popular than ever.

The Awards this year attracted record numbers of nominations and guests, and from the abundance of talent we saw on stage, it is clear the event continues to reflect the essence of the magazine.

Those individuals who received awards are the kind of hoteliers we hope to also showcase in the pages of Hotelier Middle East — the ambassadors of the team spirit at the very heart of every successful hotel.

Thank you to everyone who supported the Hotelier Middle East Awards with nominations, with sponsorships, and by being there on the night to cheer on and celebrate your colleagues.

I already can’t wait for next year’s ceremony, which is to have a James Bond theme. I look forward to seeing you all there dressed as Bond Villains, Bond Girls and well ... Bonds. I hope that in 2015 we can break records again, with more nominations and more attendees than ever before.

Have a fantastic festive period and I’ll see you in the New Year!

Crystal Chesters, deputy editor

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