Interview: Mandarin Oriental Jumeira Dubai’s operations manager, Miriam Tirado
Hotelier Middle East sits down with Mandarin Oriental’s Miriam Tirado who talks about her journey into the hospitality industry, self-motivation hacks and how she came to rescue a guest’s dog during her time in Barcelona, Spain.
Explain your job role in 50 words?
I am responsible for customer relations and the total administration function of the front office, telecommunications, guest relations, concierge and door and bell desk.
I have to provide an extraordinary experience for the moment they arrive until they leave. Also, I have to provide supervision, direction and leadership in the front of house division in accordance with the objectives, performance and quality standards established by the hotel.
What is your hospitality journey?
I started in a five-star hotel in Barcelona as a PBX operator. During a short period of time I was promoted to a front office agent and later to a front office supervisor.
After four years working in that property, I saw that Mandarin Oriental was opening just a few blocks away and I decided to apply. I started as a front office supervisor and after several promotions, I became front of house manager.
It was after eight years working in Mandarin Oriental Barcelona that I decided to make a change in my life and try this opportunity in Dubai, with the same company of course.
The three biggest challenges?
Exceed guest expectations: Nowadays if you want to be different in hospitality, something unique needs to be done and not all the companies can provide you with tools or resources to be able to exceed guest expectations with uniqueness.
Colleague development and expectations: Young people joining the industry are eager to grow and sometimes it is difficult to make them understand that they can’t be general manager in three years. Everything needs time, but they get frustrated easily if they don’t have a promotion soon. Sometimes this is difficult to manage with the team.
Social media access: from one side I think social media networks are helping the industry, but in a way, I consider that some platforms are causing the opposite effect. People are getting used to writing from platforms such as Tripadvisor and trying to get something for free.
Why do you enjoy your job?
Some days after working 14 days in a row, I asked myself the same question. I enjoy being active and chatting with guests, but facing challenges sometimes is also a good exercise. I put myself under pressure and try to learn something new every day.
What is your previous experience and training?
I was lucky enough to be part of many training initiatives during my career that helped me to understand how to manage myself, and also my colleagues.
I have also attended some programs within Mandarin Oriental about leadership. However, the most important was the cross-exposure opportunities. I went to Hong Kong and London for cross-exposure in housekeeping, which helped me a lot to understand the other side of the ball and know how other properties work in different countries.
How do you monitor feedback, good and bad?
You have to learn how to receive feedback. I remember at the beginning of my career it was one of my main weaknesses, but after some time, I learned not to take it personally.
I think that if a manager or colleague takes the time to provide you with feedback, it shows that you mean something to them. They want to see you grow. This is why I always try to accept it.
Any tricky situations that you’ve experienced?
Working in luxury hotels always has hilarious stories to tell, but I always remember one situation that happened in Barcelona. An elderly couple was travelling with their dog; one night they went out for dinner and forgot the dog in the taxi. Once they realised, they called the hotel in order to help them to find the taxi driver.
Unfortunately, they did not have the receipt, therefore we could not track the taxi plate number to find the driver. We were also checking CCTV cameras, but we were not able to see the plate number.
The couple spent the entire night looking for their pet in the city. One of our colleagues at the front office posted on Facebook that we were looking for a missing dog and needed help.
The following morning, we received a call from a “dog rescue center” 30 km away from Barcelona, stating that they had found the couple's pet. We immediately called the couple and along with one of our colleagues, they went there. Surprisingly, the dog was there and the couple couldn’t be happier.
I think it was the best situation ever, and the most important lesson how colleagues support and help the guests in such a difficult situation. We were almost family & friends rather than staff. It was amazing.
I always think about all the efforts that I have completed since I was young to be where I am now. You need to be positive at all times, although sometimes it’s not that easy. You should be proud of yourself and what you have done. You need to set goals or deadlines and understand that mistakes can happen.