Author Nicola Feuilherade   |  October 12, 2018

It’s been 5 years since Hospitality Management Graduate, Paula McMinn moved to London – the Square Mile. Having been born and raised in Cape Town, Paula was determined to stretch her wings and travel abroad. Soon after she had written her final exam, Paula boarded a plane to Naples, Florida to work at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. After 6 months of working at the hotel, Paula was transferred to the Ritz Carlton in Beijing to work within their Guest Relations Department.

From there she moved to London to work at The Savoy Hotel. “I started as a Reservations Agent and transferred to the Front Office Department where I was a Receptionist, Guest Relations Manager and then promoted to Assistant Front Office Manager,” says Paula. “I absolutely loved the 4 years that I spent at The Savoy Hotel! The staff made it feel like a home away from home,” enthuses Paula.  While working at the Savoy Hotel, Paula was named AICR UK Receptionist of the Year 2014. This allowed for her to represent the UK at the International Receptionist of the Year competition, where she was named The Best Receptionist in The World! She proudly brought back the David Campbell trophy back to the UK.

Paula McMinn

                                                                  Paula McMinn

After gaining that operational experience, Paula joined the head office of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) as a Quality Assurance Executive. A year later she was promoted to being an Assurance Manager. After sometime in that position, she has once again grown within SLH and is now the Worldwide Training Manager for SLH.

As a Quality Assurance Manager, Paula was responsible for maintaining and raising the overall standards of the hotels within their portfolio, by coordinating mystery inspections. There are approximately 520 hotels worldwide. Once the contracted inspectors have submitted the audit reports from their hotel visits, Paula then discusses the results with the General Managers and owners of the hotels.

She is also responsible for guest feedback on behalf of the SLH brand to ensure customer satisfaction and that the hotels are meeting all brand standards, and providing the best independently minded experiences.

If you would like to follow in her career footsteps, here are Paula’s top 4 golden rules as a Quality Assurance Manager:

  1. Always remember there are two sides to a story when dealing with complaints. Sometimes guests can add extra “spices” onto their feedback, and owners don’t necessarily like hearing that someone didn’t like their decor or service. Therefore, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation so that you can reach an outcome where both parties are satisfied.
  2. Understand that luxury looks very different to everyone. What you may think is ideal, might not be liked by someone else. Always keep an open mind to different hospitality concepts and styles.
  3. Inspectors need to remain subjective. When their stay has started with a bad check in, it’s important they don’t base the rest of their evaluation on that one encounter. First impressions do last, but shouldn’t dictate the overall outcome.
  4. Inspectors should always remain anonymous to evaluate a true guest experience. This can become challenging within boutique hotels, especially as the reports need to include photographs, but that is why they have all been specially selected.

 

“Although the Hospitality industry is filled with long and unpredictable hours, trust me it is well worth it! For those students that have enrolled for 2019, the only advice that I can give you is that your Work Integrated Practical’s are the perfect time to really take advantage of getting to know all the departments within a hotel. Once you have graduated you can then start focusing on your end goal within the industry,” says Paula. “Further to that, persistence and patience in life are key to reaching your goals. Never let anyone tell you that you are not suited for a position if you are willing to work hard at it,” concludes Paula.

Apart from her day job, Paula is also an avid cyclist. Her proudest moment was when she cycled from London to Paris, and then from London to Amsterdam to raise funds for Hospitality Action, a charity supporting staff in the hospitality industry.

Paula’s goal over the next five years is to open her own hospitality training consultancy. Paula, we look forward to watching your continued success and we’re holding thumbs that in 2023 your vision comes to life!

If you would like to enrol for a course in Hospitality at our Online Campus, email us at online@hotelschool.co.za or ring 0861 44 33 00 to chat to a consultant today. If you would like to know more about our short courses,  specialisations, higher certificates or diplomas then go to www.hotelschool.co

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