Carmen Leong was born and raised in Malaysia, before moving to New Zealand to study over four years ago.
Leong initially dreamed of becoming a psychologist, but while looking for a part-time job during her studies, she came across job listings at SKYCITY and jumped on the opportunity.
Her role at SKYCITY began as a porter before transitioning to the position of guest services representative at the SKYCITY Grand Hotel.
“I wanted to work with people. At the time, it didn’t matter which career field I was in. There’s always something new to look forward to every time I come into work. That’s what makes coming to work fun and exciting,” said Leong.
When she began at SKYCITY she described herself as shy and timid, but the experience working the front desk gave her confidence to grow out of her shell and be more outspoken.
Obviously, that’s changed now, as Leong has been chosen to represent New Zealand at the World Receptionist of the Year competition in London following her Receptionist of the Year win at the AICR NZ awards.
“I was nominated on the Quest for the Best which is our internal staff awards recognising excellence and employees who live out the SKYCITY values, consistently achieving outstanding customer service. Then I recently won first place as the Receptionist of the Year 2018 New Zealand.”
As with most roles in the fast-paced and ever-changing hospitality industry, no two days are the same.
“It’s always busy with many of our VIP guest arrivals and departures, often with groups as well. We are constantly following up on room status, amenities for VIPs or special occasions and frequently making restaurant and East Day Spa bookings.”
For Leong, the biggest challenges involve getting ahead of guests and knowing what they want.
“It can be challenging to anticipate and determine each guests’ expectations, especially frequent travellers who stay in hotels all around the world. There is the need to keep on trend and to find new, innovative ways to provide our best services suited for guests.”
At the same time, the best and most rewarding part of her job is meeting the unusual demands and requests that are brought in, as it gives her the chance to provide a better experience for guests.
Leong has travelled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia. Hong Kong left a deep impression on her because of its attractions like Disneyland, Sea World, cultural sites and the street markets.
In the long-term, Leong aspires to manage a hotel of her own, but in the meantime would like to gain some more experience first.
Her advice for those trying to break into the industry is “Be unique. Be confident. Try to step into the expectations of the hotel that you’re working at to contribute to its aims and goals. If you show that you’re eager and enthusiastic to learn, you will succeed. Above all, enjoy yourself.”