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In our 30 years of operation, we have collected so many great stories, from our humble beginnings in Perth, our expansion into the New Zealand market and how we survived and thrived through the COVID-19 Pandemic.
But at the heart of everything we do is our people. So, we thought there was no one better to hear from, than one of our longest serving team members. Join us as our Quality and Training Manager, Verena, shares her incredible career journey from housekeeper supervisor to the leadership role she continues to make her own.
Verena’s Career Journey with ahs hospitality
It is so surreal to believe that I have been with ahs hospitality for almost 23 years when it only feels like yesterday that I first started my journey with this company. I started with ahs hospitality as a Supervisor in Melbourne back in November 2000. I have seen significant and positive changes within the hotel housekeeping industry and have made so many wonderful memories along the way.
Back in the day, there was such thing called a fax machine:
Back in 2000, when the ahs hospitality head office was in Perth, WA, we were required to fax through our time sheets. As you can imagine, due to the large number of documents from all team members, the fax machine often got jammed! When they got approved, the Housekeeping Managers would take out their ahs hospitality cheque books sitting in their drawers to pay us weekly.
Love and celebrities:
One of the cool things about working in hotels are the high-profile guests what walk through the doors. I vividly remember when an International Cricket Team was touring Australia and were staying at my hotel during the Boxing Day Test Matches, they required a live Christmas tree in every room they occupied - we were finding pine needles in these rooms six months later!
But it was not just pine needles we were finding at our hotel; it was love too! A story which could be turned into a rom-com, our Housekeeping Department acted as cupid as one team member’s daughter fell in love and got married to another team member’s son. It was certainly the wedding of the year that everyone taking about in the hotel’s corridors, and yes, I was one of the lucky ones who was invited to the wedding.
It was not all sweet love stories at our hotel. Together we also experienced high-maintenance and demanding celebrity guests that really kept us on our toes. One memory that really sticks out, was when we had a high-profile Beverly Hills socialite and her team stay with us who requested only a certain type of candle to be placed into her suite which was not available in Australia. You can certainly say, she had a scent for the finer things in life.
Then there was another high-profile celebrity who rose to fame for her eye for fashion. She had a pair of exquisite, jaw-droppingly expensive boots that she left outside her room for ‘Shoeshine Service’. However, there was just one tiny hiccup, we did not actually have a Shoeshine Service! Panic quickly followed us when the shoes went missing, but as fate would have it, they were eventually found, and we let out a collective sigh of relief.
Christmas, Career Development, and COVID Challenges:
In 2014, I was given the opportunity to transfer to a new hotel, which sparked my passion for Quality and Training within the Housekeeping Department. As their newest Quality & Training Manager, I had the privilege of introducing the prestigious 'Forbes standards' rating qualification. I feel like this was my career defining moment, and I became the Forbes Guru in the hotel, leading the charge in implementing and training our team to meet these high standards.
As the Christmas season rolled in, it was a magical time, but it did come with its quirks. Our offices were located very close to the hotel’s atrium where they held the twice hourly Christmas sound and light show. As much as l loved the sound of Christmas carols and hearing the ‘Ho Ho Ho’ from Santa, it made my computer screen shake and I quickly became an expert in timing important phone calls and recruitment interviews.
Another joyful milestone was the reinstitution of our close partnership with a hospitality training college. This training college offered certifications in hospitality at levels 3 and 4, which has proved to be a game-changer. It paved the way for countless Team Members to climb the career ladder, like me, transforming our lives and enriching our department with a wealth of talent and renewed ambition.
In July 2019, I was offered the position to become one of ahs hospitality’s Quality and Training Managers, supporting their operations in Victoria. Soon after, Corona Virus started hitting the news and made its way to our corner of the world. Safe to say, all our lives changed.
The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to Melbourne, a city that endured some of the world’s most rigorous lockdowns. Amid these trying times, I felt immense gratitude that my job was kept, thanks to Job Keeper. Working from home, I lent a hand to the ahs hospitality Human Resources and Safety team, assisting with their new projects and administrative tasks. One of the tasks was assisting in the issuing permits to Pathogen Clean Team Members, allowing them access to the city during curfew hours. I will never forget those quiet train rides into the once lively city of Melbourne, where I often found myself the sole passenger.
Transitioning to work in quarantine hotels within Melbourne’s Central Business District was eye-opening. Government officials, the Army, and Police were a constant presence, and leaving the hotel required a COVID test.
But once lockdowns were lifted and hotels started to re-open, we were quickly faced with another challenge. With occupancy rates starting to soar again, this surge in demand was met with a shortage of housekeeping team members due to pandemic-related setbacks. It was a trial by fire for our company and the industry during this time, pushing us to our limits as we strived to accommodate eager guests while navigating these intricate challenges.
We re-adjusted to the post-pandemic era, resuming activity like our popular ahs hospitality ‘Train the Trainer’ development sessions and continued to make positive strides forward as a company. As we approach our 30-year anniversary I have never felt so confident in our leadership team and the bright direction we are heading in. Our industry and company are resilient, and together, we are ready to face whatever challenges lies ahead.