Born in New Plymouth, Phil Shearer attended New Plymouth Boys’ High and completed a six-month certificate in tourism and hospitality at Taranaki Polytechnic. During high school, Shearer had no idea what he wanted to do and started off at the local post office.
“I was out on a limb, and my brother had done the same course and really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give it a go,” he said.
Now chief concierge at Rydges Wellington, a typical day for Shearer involves an early 6.30am start in the morning and involves anything from parking cars, delivering luggage, checking in and out, and looking after guest enquiries. Shearer considers time management to be the most necessary skill for his work.
“Being able to prioritise things that need to be done, having a very positive outlook, and creating solutions are important. We can do anything, pretty much.”
Shearer has been at the hotel since it opened in 2007 before it became Rydges in 2011. He has now been at the property for nine and a half years. Before returning to Wellington, he was previously at Rendezvous in Auckland and CityLife in Auckland and has been quite a few places in his 25 years in the industry.
He also worked in London at a small boutique for a few years. To date, his favourite experience has been looking after a honeymoon couple who wanted a room filled with teddy bears.
“About 25 teddy bears were spread around the room. It seemed quite bizarre at the time, but quite cool looking back and knowing they were hidden in each cupboard.”
Another interesting experience for Shearer was for a mad Hurricanes fan, who requested a room filled with Hurricanes balloons and flags.
“It’s about understanding guests’ particular needs, providing them with what they want and making their experience special. To listen, to be patient, and treat everyone as an individual, essentially.”
He thinks technology has been one of the biggest influences on the hotel industry.
“Everything is being done online and in day-to-day operations. I think also the number of people travelling to New Zealand now has exploded, and there’s a lot more choice for hotels and style of accommodation. Most importantly, the level of service has improved dramatically. People’s expectations have changed a lot.”
Shearer’s biggest achievement has been becoming a member of Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand.
“It’s something I’m very proud to be part of it. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and even over that length of time the passion has never waned. I just want to be the best concierge I can be. This is what I enjoy. I want to continue developing as a concierge and providing the best service that I can.”
Shearer said he’d love to go back to London and work in a hotel like the Savoy, or maybe the Ritz. But in New Zealand, he’s happy where he is in Wellington.
“It’s a cool place. It’s the place for me in New Zealand.”