Describe your path into hospitality
My journey in the hospitality industry started at the age of 16 when I was working as a waiter at a five-star resort in South Wales for some extra pocket money whilst studying. The excitement I felt going to work every morning made me realise that I found my passion! Before moving to Dubai and Radisson Blu, I spent two years at InterContinental London – The O2.
What would you say are three key things that have made you successful?
Being innovative, trying new things, new systems and techniques, pushing the boundaries and challenging the norm. Ensuring that my teams always have fun in all that they do! Certifying sure in every decision that it has a positive impact on the business, the guests and the team.
My main challenge I would see is how to keep a team of 60+ motivated, with a large team in a busy environment it can sometimes be challenging to find the time to interact with them all on a personal level. I always try to spend at least one-two hours a day walking between outlets, speaking with the team, motivating them, show them I care and that I am there to support them.
You’ve shared your ambitions to run a disability-friendly hotel in the future. What are your thoughts on the current state of accessible tourism in the Middle Eastern region?
Not only in the Middle East, but generally around the world many places provide facilities for physical disabilities but there is a lack of facilities or trained personnel for invisible disabilities. For example, it is mandatory for all hotels to have trained first aiders, yet there is no such rule that each property must have a colleague that can communicate using sign language.
I believe there is a global lack of awareness and education about the various disabilities. Many people believe that being accessibly friendly is about having a wheelchair ramp and some supports in the bathroom. If there was the right education and awareness, businesses in the tourism market may find different ways to make their properties more attractive for those with disabilities, which is effectively what I am aiming to do in the future.