A: Frits, please tell us about your journey in hospitality and why exactly you have chosen this field for your career?
F: I totally fell into it! I studied Industrial Psychology and when I finished my degree in South Africa I decided to go travelling, I ended up in Hong Kong and worked behind a bar and simply loved the experience, the interaction and dynamic nature of looking after customers appealed to me.
My first job was on Lantau Island Hong Kong, working in a bar/restaurant for my Aunt. I learnt to be humble, start at the bottom and work my way up, hospitality teaches you quickly that experience trumps all and you can progress incredibly quickly if you commit. From Hong Kong I moved to London and worked in a variety of management roles with some great companies including Red Carnation Hotels and the Doyle Collection until 2016 when we decided to move to Ireland.
A: As a general manager of the hotel you must have a lot of responsibilities but what are your most favourite ones?
F: I have two key roles and they are intertwined; one revolves ensuring we deliver exceptional guest experiences for our customers and the second is to equip, motivate and empower our team to deliver these experiences consistently. Loyalty is earned, I believe it essential to align employee’s needs for future development and growth with the business’s needs and involve everyone, all the time and this part I absolutely adore.
A: The world is facing an extraordinary situation at the moment and unfortunately, the hospitality sector has been “hurt” the most. What are your predictions for the “after quarantine” travels?
F: It is an exceptionally challenging time for everyone, including our beloved hospitality sector. I would personally predict that domestic, short term leisure travel will bounce back the quickest post the lifting of restrictions but that the international leisure and especially corporate travel markets will be slower to recover. In saying this – the hospitality sector has always proved to be incredibly resilient and I believe the long term outlook simply has to be positive.