A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life… Orlaith McCann-Fox, deputy general manager, Maldron Hotel Belfast City

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I came on board in October 2017, alongside General Manager Mike Gatt, to get the hotel ready for our planned opening date, March 13, 2018. In the run up to the opening, my role mainly involved the procurement of equipment, amenities, uniforms, etc. which, being the first hotel to open in the company for 10 years, was a mammoth task. Our order system and high-quality products were then rolled out as a benchmark for the new openings which followed. In addition, I was involved in recruitment for the hotel alongside the HR manager, which in turn led to arranging the development, training and general preparation of the team prior to opening. Since we opened in March 2018, my role has returned to a more normal, although challenging, routine.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN HOSPITALITY/TOURISM?
I started in hospitality when I was just 16 and have loved it ever since. When I started college, I was studying towards a degree in music while working part time in a hotel. However, I fell in love with the world of hotels so much I started training as front of house manager in 2005, and have worked my way up the ranks since then. I have worked in front office, food and beverage, revenue and operations. I have worked in all grades of properties, from three-star hotels to two AA rosette award-winning restaurants and have won awards both inside and outside our company. I also won Best Overall Presentation in my Altitude General Manager Development Programme, won Forecasting Team of the Year as Revenue Manager in Dublin and was shortlisted as finalist in the Irish Hospitality Institute Awards 2017 Food & Beverage Manager of the Year.

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
The best part is most definitely the customer. When a guest leaves the hotel with a smile, you know you have done your job. Customer satisfaction is the reason the hospitality sector exists, as without it we would all have a hard time selling rooms. You never meet the same type of person twice in one day, meaning you can never get bored in work.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING?
This is a difficult one as there really isn’t anything keeping me awake at night. But if there is something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, it is review sites. Thankfully we are in a fantastic position and are ranking highly across the various platforms.

OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
Once I am up to date on the financial side of things, I will check which events are taking place over the next few days and check if any additional preparations are needed or are already done. I make sure to spend time in the operation each day as you cannot be in tune with the staff and customers if you don’t get to work from their perspective on a regular basis. I would then catch up with my HoDs to ensure they are where they need to be with their department. This can be anything from recruitment and annual appraisals to simple day-to-day operational challenges. Lastly, I always walk the hotel daily. It is important to walk through the customer experience as you need to ensure they do not come across anything they shouldn’t.

PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
I would have to say the day we opened here at Maldron Belfast City. The five and a half months prior were both challenging and enjoyable. I learned so much about both the industry and my own skills and competencies and standing at the front door with my general manager on the day we opened to welcome our first guest was the most incredible feeling. It is hard to put into words.

BEST THING ABOUT THE LOCAL SECTOR
Moving to Belfast, I met an entirely new team. I have met some interesting characters with both big and small personalities, made friends for life, and felt more and more a part of a family every day we are open. Belfast is rich in heritage and history and you can see and hear that by getting to know the people here. Getting the opportunity to be a part of that culture is a rare treat and one I will treasure forever.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
I am a huge animal lover and love nothing more than an evening at home with my cats and dogs snuggled up in front of the fire. No matter how long and stressful your day has been, when you walk in the door you can be guaranteed to be greeted by a very happy face and a wagging tail. Asides from lazy days in, you can’t beat a good run along the coast to clear your head.

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