Our Business Admin apprentice Simeon is coming to the end of his apprenticeship qualification, so we took five to catch up and hear all about his experiences working as the welcoming face of the super cool Hoxton Hotel. Read on to find out why this surprise role turned out to be the perfect fit for him and if you could see yourself working for their collaborative team.

The Hoxton Hotel, Holborn
  1. As a Front of House Operator/Receptionist — how does one day differ from the other?

As the Front of House Operator I am the first point of contact when a guest walks into reception and that means I am the first impression of the hotel that our guests and members will have. To give a bad impression would mean that guests would have a negative and tainted experience throughout their stay at The Hoxton Hotel.

Before going into this role I knew that every guest experience is down to the team at the front desk, so we need to be positive and help them have the best time possible when they come to our hotel. The entire guest experience is impacted by their first interaction — we want them to feel like they are at home, or that The Hoxton is their home away from home.

2. Do you think this role requires previous experience?

I had done front of house work before so I felt confident in applying for the role because of my previous experience, and I thought, “this role is for me, I can excel, I can do this”. But it didn’t feel like I needed to have specific experience. If you are outgoing, can talk to strangers and have a genuine passion for hospitality, then you will excel in this role.

3. No two days are the same as a Front of House Operator — what has this role taught you?

Being a Front of House Operator has taught me that not everyone’s the same, and that was a hard lesson for me — being used to the friends and family that I’ve grown up with and known all my life. I was meeting hundreds of people every week who are not alike, and so I adapted my communication and interactive techniques accordingly — from the age groups to the cultural backgrounds. This job role has definitely taught me how to communicate effectively and adapt my communication skills to each visitor.

Taking initiative is one of The Hoxton Hotel’s values that employees have to live by — such as using your initiative to give a complimentary drink or dessert to an unsatisfied guest to prevent a problem from escalating.

Being independent. Though I am working as part of a team in a specific department, there are times when I need to start and finish the tasks on my to-do list. Knowing when to complete my own priorities before going to back to join the team at reception is a time management skill I have developed.

Simeon taking part in the WhiteHat mentoring scheme

4. What skills has your apprenticeship prepared you for? What hard skills has this role taught you?

I am finishing my apprenticeship feeling confident and having a high level of verbal, written and communication skills — this skill can take me anywhere, because I am much more confident speaking and interacting with strangers via telephone, in person and emails.

The thing I was most scared of was answering the phone — I never knew what to say and I feared that I wouldn’t have answers to people’s queries. But after a month that disappeared and I am very confident now. This was something I needed to do, my own personal and professional hurdle. With everything else, through practice and initial supervision, it became natural to me. I will take this new found confidence with me through life and my career.

I’ve always been a team player, through playing football in high school. Working at The Hoxton helped me develop this mindset further, from working and collaborating with the Operations Team, Head Office and Housekeeping to rotating shifts with the Front of House team.

5. When you started looking for an apprenticeship, did you expect to land a role like this?
No, haha, because originally I was interested in Digital Marketing. But those roles were not catching my eye. Then the Front Desk Apprenticeship came in, and after reading the job description and the requirements I researched the company and saw that they were making a mark on the hotel and hospitality space and I want to be a part of that — I want to be a part of that team.

I remember I started applying for an apprenticeship then I put it on hold for a year, but I knew I needed to keep my mind active. I read the job description for The Hoxton and I thought, “Yes, I would be comfortable with the travel time, plus the role will grow my CV while improving my skillset. Working in hospitality will give me life skills and will take me far in my future.”

6. What was the most exciting event that you were involved in during your apprenticeship?

The event space brings in people every night, for all kinds of celebrations — birthdays, engagements, team successes, passing exams. But, I was really excited to welcome different people celebrating different milestones in their life. A moment I will never forget is being at the front desk when a large group of girls checked into the Event Space for a 21st birthday party. So yes, birthday celebrations are so exciting at The Hoxton Hotel.

7. What does it take to be good at your job? What are the traits of a good Front of House Operator?

Confidence: as a Front Desk Operator, you need to welcome guests before they get to the front desk. If you don’t have confidence, it doesn’t give a good experience for the guests because you need to be giving off a friendly and welcoming demeanour, somebody who is inviting.

Willing to learn, because you can never learn too much. Processes can change and it will be required for you to pick things up, but if you refuse to learn, others will excel and pass you. Our monthly meetings give us a chance to hear what’s going well at The Hoxton and how we can improve on these successes for the following month. So each department is always learning.

Willing to make mistakes, because I believe that if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not taking the initiative, and you’re not opening yourself up to learn. You’re playing it safe, which doesn’t help your team to stand out and be innovate in the hospitality sector. The Hoxton supports creative thinking and creative ideas.

8. What advice to would you give to a new apprentice that was starting on the front desk team? and why?

Good luck.
Haha no, I would say, be ready for the unexpected because not every day is the same. One day can be really good, no desk complaints and the next day can be the opposite, full of complaints. Never expect what’s expected. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Does this sound like the kind of place you’d like to work? Think you’re up to the challenge of being Simeon’s replacement?! Why not check out the role here