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Attitude can make you a star

Monday, March 17, 2014
Coco Reef owner John Jefferis believes a good attitude is one of the most important attributes for a career in hospitality.

At staff orientation meetings I always say that we in the hospitality industry are in the business of theatre. 


The splendour of T&T is the breathtaking backdrop in which the hotel or restaurant is the beautiful set and the employees are the actors and actresses, with some even being stars. 


I continually remind staff that we are only as good as our customers’ perception of our last performance.


Now more than ever with travel websites like TripAdvisor, the impression you make on your guests is crucial. 


Potential customers are no longer relying on star ratings as much as they rely on reading about the experiences of others. 


At the same time, the travel websites providing customer feedback are extremely useful in improving operations or in motivating staff. It is wonderful to read positive guest reviews, especially when specific employees are praised for their excellent service.


So how do you become a star in the hospitality industry?


My philosophy on staff recruitment is quite simple: “Hire for attitude – train for skills.” A good attitude is one of the most important attributes for a career in hospitality. It’s a business about making people happy. 


Whether you’re a hotel concierge, a kitchen porter or even a manager of a hospitality business, every time you come into work, you have the opportunity to make someone’s day better, and when you do, it’s extremely gratifying.


The saying that you make your own destiny rings true in hospitality. 


If you are motivated, get along well with guests and colleagues, you’ll find yourself in supervisory and management roles in no time. If you are entrepreneurially inclined, set your sights on acquiring a small hotel to start with and work from there. 


My first experience working in the industry was as a pot washer and throughout the years I’ve worked my way up to now owning and operating Coco Reef Resorts in Tobago, Bermuda and Panama.


For those who have no interest in starting their own business, hospitality employees in T&T – and worldwide – are in demand. With opportunities in areas such as marketing, management, accounting, guest services, landscaping and human resources, the hospitality industry offers something for everyone. 


One booming area is food and beverage. 


Thanks to popular reality television programmes and competitions, food has become very trendy. In fact, celebrity chefs who earn money not only for their cuisine, but also for their entertainment value have made the profession quite glamorous. 


Another attraction for some is that working in the hospitality industry is like opening a door to the world. 


The guests with whom you interact come from different places across the globe. 


In addition, every country in the world has a hospitality industry, and the skills you learn are readily transferable so that a career in hospitality could easily be the key to a life of adventure anywhere on Earth.


My advice to a young person in T&T considering a career in hospitality is to get part-time work in a hotel in a number of different departments. Then take a course at The T&T Hospitality and Tourism Institute in an area that interests you most. 


Finally, be proud to work in this industry because it is absolutely vital to the economic health of the country. Without a vibrant and profitable hotel industry, there can never be a successful tourism industry.


• Hotelier John Jefferis owns and operates Coco Reef Resorts in Tobago, Bermuda and Panama and has a range of other related business interests in the region, including airline catering companies, residential property rentals, theme restaurants and art galleries. One of his passions is motivating young people who are interested in getting into the hospitality industry.


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