Katie Booth AIH is Amaris Hospitality’s first Graduate Management Trainee. Here she reflects on her first year of working for Amaris Hospitality.
What was it that attracted you to the hospitality industry?
I am the classic hospitality story of somebody that just fell into the industry and ended up making a career out of it. I started at 16 as a waitress in a small seaside café in Plymouth for a Saturday job. I worked with a close knit team and loved every shift. At the time I never really saw hospitality as a career option for myself and ended up pursuing History at University. Throughout being a student in Glasgow, I had restaurant jobs where I met more and more people that were making an amazing career for themselves in hospitality. They were all so energetic and passionate about the industry, and I soon realised I had the same passion and that I could never imagine myself in a 9-5 desk job.
I thrive off constant exposure to new challenges and opportunities and nothing even came close to making me as excited as hospitality did. So as soon as I graduated, I started as hospitality intern at Loch Lomond Golf Club before moving over to my current job as a Graduate Manager at Amaris Hospitality, where my exposure and understanding of the industry has grown massively.
Did you always want to work in hospitality when you were growing up? If not, what did you most want to be?
I was always one of those people at school that never really knew what I wanted to do, so I always just based my academic and career decisions about what I enjoyed at the time. So for university I pursued History and I always thought I would have loved to have been an archivist, somebody who worked closely with the general public as well as being very detailed and analytical. I did some work experience but I really didn’t feel the pace and environment suited me.
However, with my part time jobs in some busy restaurants I quickly realised that I thrived off fast paced situations and that hospitality played to my character strengths. So following my path of just doing what I love I applied for jobs in the industry and here I am now in my amazing role with Amaris.
You are currently on a Management Development program with Amaris Hospitality, how are you finding the experience so far?
Absolutely incredible! When I look back on myself when I started a year ago to where I am now, I can’t quite believe how much I have learnt and how my confidence has developed. I am the first ever Amaris graduate, so I have been working closely with Amaris to develop the program and really tailor it around what experience graduates coming into the hospitality industry need.
The first year of the program is very operational based, learning as much as you can about how a hotel runs on a day to day basis and how all the departments work together. My placement has been at the Doubletree by Hilton Glasgow Central, a 304-bedroom hotel right in the middle of Glasgow. It is a very faced paced and dynamic hotel and have been lucky enough to spend time in every department and really get an in-depth look as well as really throwing myself in to everything the hotel has to offer. As well as gaining operational experience, this first year has been all about laying some great foundations in my management career.
I have had incredible mentorship from the hotel’s Director of Operations, which has been crucial to my development. I really feel it is so important to have somebody well respected and established in the hospitality industry to look up to, who can give you advice and encouragement and really is supportive of your career goals and aspirations. Amaris provides learning and development training courses to help me learn and develop who I am as a manager and has also helped me apply it to my management role back in the hotel.
The second year of the program involves changing property and really focusing on the direction you want your career to go. So for me personally I am looking forward to working with the General Manager and getting more experience in revenue and sales, as well as getting back involved with Food & Beverage and really driving some changes within the team and the wider hotel.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career?
“When the commodity you are working with is people, you can never afford to lose sight of the individual.” I feel sometimes we can all get lost in targets, reviews and revenue and I think it’s so important to remember the foundation of the industry, which is people. Sometimes it is important to just stop thinking about all the other aspects of the job and just really focus on the individual in front of you. We have such a power to make a difference to people’s lives on a daily basis, and sure that might be in the form of complementary cup of coffee or some kind words but we should never be taking the power in that for granted.
Tell us about the best working day of your career so far…
In November here at the hotel in Glasgow we had the pleasure of hosting the Scottish Bafta’s. It was the first year of the hotel hosting the event, so it was a high pressure but amazing experience. I was given the opportunity to work closely with some of the senior members of the hotel management team. I started the morning by assisting with the check ins of the BAFTA organisers and VIPS and assisting with any needs of the client. I organised scripts, signage and VIP welcome gifts for over 30 VIPs.
For the rest of the day I was part of the operational team who made sure the red carpet and the ceremony went smoothly. The red carpet in the lobby was a buzz of activity and it was all about being visible and present for any needs of the client as well still liaising with hotel guests. There was such an amazing energy amongst the staff, and everyone involved worked so hard to make the event such a success. It really was such an incredible experience and numerous times I stopped and realised how lucky I was to be able to call this my job.
What would you say to anyone considering having a career in hospitality?
That you really can’t fake passion in this industry. Find what part of the industry really excites you and use this to drive forward what you want from your career, as it’s so important to have a structure around your goals and where you want to progress to.
Speak to as many different people as possible about how they got to where they did in the industry, everyone’s so story is so unique and you might just find a direction you hadn’t considered before. A career in hospitality can have its challenges but even on a bad day try and take a lesson from it because you can always learn something new if you choose to be positive and sometimes a positive perspective is all it takes to make a huge difference.
Give us three words that you use to sum up the hospitality industry?
Passionate, dedicated and dynamic.
Looking ahead, what would you like to be doing in your career 10 years from now?
If you asked me this a year ago I would have had no idea what to say this to question, but after my first year with Amaris I now have a much clearer idea. In the next few months I will be relocating to my second year property, where I will be looking to put everything I learned about the operational running of the hotel in to practise and to really start driving some changes within the property.
I hope in 10 years I will be a Director of Operations within a large-scale hotel and be progressing towards being a General Manager. I hope to have immersed myself in different large scale brands, and worked alongside many different types of managers and leaders. I also have a keen interest in the learning and development, so I hope in 10 years I will be mentoring and helping guide the next future leaders within Amaris and the wider industry.
What I love about this industry is that it’s so hard to predict where you will end up, and when you think you might go one way, things can change so fast you can end up somewhere completely different, so I look forward to reading this back in 10 years and seeing if any of it has turned out accurate!
How has being a member of the Institute of Hospitality helped your career so far?
I am enjoying being a member of the Institute of Hospitality as it has really allowed me to connect with what is happening in the industry all over the world. For me I use it frequently for my own personal development goals and I love listening to the webinars as they are always really informative and challenge me to see things from a different perspective.
I am currently working with Amaris on a mentorship project for new graduates, so I found the webinar titled ‘Equip your team to be effective mentors’ very useful in helping me start to develop a plan for what I want the scheme to look like. My 2020 goal is to become part of the mentor me scheme myself and be paired with an Institute of Hospitality fellow that can help take my career development even further.
Amaris Hospitality is looking for Graduate Managers who aspire to be future leaders to join on a journey of expansion and growth on their Amaris Ignite Graduate Programme.
They have a current portfolio of 30 hotels in the UK and Ireland trading under prestigious, International brands such as Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton, Mercure and Ibis Styles.
Known for their focus on people investment and development, they have a proven track record in investing in their hotels and delivering operational excellence and exceptional guest service to ensure they have hotels that operate as the best within their brand. The 2-year graduate programme aims to develop future leaders of the business by combining operational and functional support experience, fast-track leadership training and tailored development opportunities within their properties.