Tim O’Hara, Head Concierge, QT Museum Wellington, Member Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand.

“I was asked to write this article on hotel refurbishments, which for me is a very apt topic as we have just passed the finishing line here at the QT Wellington, with our very own hotel refurbishment being completed at the time of writing this piece.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my experiences of working life during a time of change.

During my time as a concierge, I have worked through three major hotel refurbishments. Being based at the main entrance of the hotel usually means our teams will be affected daily by works that are being done. This cannot distract us from the job we have in making sure our guests feel welcomed and making their stay is as comfortable as possible. On a day to day basis this can be a hard task but making sure our teams have the right attitude and show empathy when needed will get you through. If you are in it for the long haul then the support of your team and the support you give them goes a long way in making it through.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that as with everything we do, communication is the key. You will, of course, get updates from your hotel management on works in progress, though most jobs will have a foreman or project manager on site and building a good relationship with these key people from the start is a must. We both have jobs to do but having that mutual respect for each other’s roles means that if you get that overeager worker whose keen to start drilling at 7.30am or a big VIP arrival where you need things to be as normal as possible, a quick word to the foreman usually works with them holding off their work for a bit longer. There will be days when you clash, and you need to compromise, so by having respect and understanding an amicable solution is generally reached.

Personally, on the refurbishment that I have just worked through over the last two years, my working relationship with the different foreman’s over that time has made the daily upheaval much more bearable to get through. Also, as funny as it sounds, once the work is complete, you will miss them not being around for that day to day chat and banter.

To my fellow concierge and front of house teams, when your hotel decides that it’s time for a change, always remember change is good. Yes, your day to day working life and environment will change for the foreseeable future, there will be some days that are worse than others and days when you will be over the works. I have been there, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel, look at bigger picture and embrace the change, and believe me the end game will always be worth it. The new look at your hotel will give you a new sense of pride for your property. Not being biased but the completed rooms and new look here at the QT Wellington look fantastic, and when you start hearing the positive feedback, you feel proud of your place of work. Plus getting through the works together will give you and your teams the feeling of achievement and your everyday working life can start to get back to some sort of normality.”

Tim O’Hara

Head Concierge, QT Museum Wellington

Member Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand