Front-of-house interview: Meet the director of rooms division, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

Arnold Francisco, director of rooms division, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr talks about his role, why he chose to work in this industry and five tips for guest satisfaction

Arnold Francisco
Arnold Francisco

Tell us about your role.
I am responsible for overseeing both the front office and housekeeping operations at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. The front office department includes reception, royal service, guest services and concierge, Fairmont Gold (Club Lounge). The housekeeping department includes guest rooms and all public areas, the laundry and a part of recreational facilities. As the director of rooms, I oversee, monitor, manage and report on both of these very large and essential departments within a hotel and I also ensure that standards and quality are maintained and that guest’s complaints or concerns are dealt with in a timely manner.

What made you want to work in the hospitality industry?
I’m a people-person. I love meeting new people and learning about their lives and their backgrounds. I can almost always find common ground with strangers, and I like making people feel comfortable in my presence and the hospitality industry is the place I could connect with my passions.

What are the career obstacles you’ve faced?
It was a minor obstacle when I was at the Fairmont Mount Kenya. I worked with colleagues who were working with the property for 25 years and I had to teach them about Fairmont’s standards, challenging whatever they were already following. However, I managed to change their mind after training them.

What makes you thrive at your place of work?
The world is constantly changing and so are the needs of people. Being flexible and adaptive to the changes is what keeps me going. I believe my job gives me an opportunity to meet new people and learn something new every single day.

How do you monitor feedback?
Feedback from our guests is received through various channels of social media platforms. Whether positive or negative, I believe feedback is a gift that we receive from our valuable guests and it’s something that helps us understand our position as a hotel in terms of product and service quality. As a team, we make sure that every review/comment is taken into consideration and any situation that demands our full attention is channeled to the right sources. Positive feedback from our guests are reinforced and shared as best practices whereas we look at negative feedback as an opportunity to improve our service.

What is the trickiest situation that you have had to deal with?
During a film Festival in Abu Dhabi, we hosted a celebrity who realized he had forgotten his trouser just an hour before the event. We managed to stitch a new pair of trousers that very hour much to delight of our guest.

What do you do to motivate yourself?
As it is said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I believe it’s very important that you love what you do and find things to connect your passions to. To stay motivated as it can get overwhelming sometimes, I make sure that I set clear and manageable goals for myself to maintain my motivation throughout the process. If a project or task feels too big and daunting don’t let that lead you into procrastination. Instead, break it down into small steps. Last but not the least, I try to be optimistic in every situation that comes my way. The positive and constructive way of looking at things can definitely energise and recharge your motivation. So be positive always.

Five tips for guest satisfaction
1. Understand each guest as a unique individual
2. Engage each guest with warmth, genuine kindness and energy
3. Anticipate guest needs
4. Keep your promises
Make a good first impression

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