FOH Interview: Kempinski Hotel Muscat's Luca Valdevit
Having grown up, professionally and personally, while working various jobs within Kempinski Hotels around the world, Luca Valdevit says the dynamic industry always keeps things interesting
What is your career background?
I’ve been working in the hospitality industry since the age of 17, across six different countries with six different Kempinski hotels, earning the nickname ‘The Kempinski kid’. I have literally grown up in the company and have been fortunate to experience front office operations from entry level positions such as bellboy, porter, F&B trainee, and concierge at some of Kempinski’s greatest landmark properties in Europe. In 2014, I got promoted to assistant front office manager at Kempinski Hotel Bratislava, and a year later moved on to Kempinski Hotel Ajman as a duty manager. I took on a challenging role in September 2017 as I joined the pre-opening team at Kempinski Hotel Muscat as front office manager, overseeing a team of nearly 50 employees.
What inspired you to forge a career in front-of-house hotel operations?
In front-of-house operations, the front desk is usually the first point of contact for guests and there is a sense of satisfaction when we are able to solve guest concerns and make their stay memorable. It is the constant interaction with guests, as well as my natural willingness to serve people, which motivates me on a daily basis.
Can you describe a usual day at work?
Usually I arrive early in the morning and immediately conduct a handover with our night manager, to understand the previous night’s operations. Then I go through various daily reports, take a look at VIP arrivals, read guests’ comments, and prepare an action plan for follow-ups. After the morning meeting with department heads, I brief my team and spend the rest of the day in operations, conducting various tasks from check-ins and check-outs, to handling guest feedback and performing workarounds across the front office. Regular days also include conducting one-on-one sessions with employees to ensure their well-being.
How do you stay motivated?
Hospitality is such a broad industry and there is always room for improvement. What really motivates me is the experience of meeting new people and creating memories for our guests.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
The greatest challenge is to manage and satisfy everyone’s requests and expectations — from guests, team members and other stakeholders.
How do you manage guest requests during peak hours?
During peak hours such as check-out time, it’s important not to be overloaded with tasks, but prioritise guest requests and delegate these requests to the right team members.
What would you say are your favourite elements of the job?
It is the constant learning; there are many opportunities to improve and gain knowledge. I also enjoy the fact that every day is different from the next, and I get to interact with new people daily.
Is it a challenge to stay positive when guests are being difficult?
In addition to being positive, it is necessary to stay strong. Dealing with guests is about understanding their needs and accomplishing their requests. When guests come across as demanding, it is usually because they are frustrated by a certain situation. Ultimately, common ground needs to be found to resolve the issue. It is important to remember not to take things personally or prove who is right or wrong; it is about finding a solution.
What would you say are some of your significant achievements so far?
I’ve been privileged to receive a great deal of trust right from the beginning, thus, becoming a manager early. Winning the Hotelier Middle East Awards in 2016, opening Kempinski Hotel Muscat as the head of department, and becoming a certified front office master trainer within Kempinski Hotels have been some of the most meaningful highlights so far.