With his commanding stature and broad shoulders, Azlan Salim (A), exudes the reassuring presence of someone who’s got everything under control. Robert Chu (R), on the other hand, has the all-knowing look that makes you want to ask him for some advice. And with Mohamad Yusoff’s (Y) cheery energy, you know you can always count on him to lend a helping hand. Together, they make up the friendly service team of Chief Concierge, Concierge and Bellman at Concorde Hotel Singapore. We speak to these troopers and find out why they do what they do, day in, day out.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT TO DOING YOUR JOB WELL? CAN YOU SHARE YOUR SECRET WITH US?
(A) To fulfil guests’ requests. Make them happy. Basically go the extra mile. For example, when a restaurant is fully booked, and a guest is dying to get a table, we’ll actually call up the place and speak with the manager to see if we can work something out.
(R) Mainly information. Exhibitions. Arts. Tours. Restaurants. All kinds of things. We need to stay up to date by reading the newspapers, magazines, and websites to make recommendations for the guests.
Q: AND HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT TO RECOMMEND?
(A) Firstly, we narrow down by asking the guests questions. Is it their first time in Singapore? What are they looking for? Maybe recommend a tour to get to know the people, get to know the food. Just recently, I had a couple from Australia.
I gave them suggestions on where to go, what to eat, things to do and helped them plan for their week here. Their response was positive.
Q: THAT’S A GREAT WAY TO KEEP GUESTS COMING BACK. ROBERT, I HEAR YOU’VE BEEN HERE FOR 31 YEARS. DO YOU HAVE REGULARS WHO HAVE BECOME FRIENDS OVER THE YEARS?
(R) Well, there’s this ship owner from Germany who comes here every couple of months. Every time he’s here, he always looks for me. He’ll be asking, “Where’s Robert? Is he still around?”
Q: WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
(R) When guests thank us, that’s when we know we’ve done a good job.
(Y) Or when guests return from a new tourist attraction that we recommended, telling us that they had a great time.
(A) What’s really inspiring is getting nice emails from the guests even after they’ve gone home.
Q: BEING IN THIS LINE, YOU’VE PROBABLY HAD SOME CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS. BUT WHEN YOU SEE THEM, YOU CAN’T GET STARSTRUCK AND GO OOOH AND AHHH, RIGHT?
(A), (R), (Y): Nooooooo!!!
(Y) Even if you feel excited, you can only say, “Welcome to Concorde” and shake their hands. Maybe you can greet them by name because you recognise them at once. Other than that, we treat them just as well as any other guest.
Q: NOW HERE’S A TRICKY ONE. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH DIFFICULT GUESTS?
(A) Go with the flow. Try our best to fulfil their demands. There was an old lady, who had issues at the airport, and was really frustrated. I just told her to calm down, and let her talk. After a while, she was in a much better mood.
(R) It helps to find out what is the problem.
(Y) There’s no trick for this. You deal with it. It’s part and parcel of the job.
(A) And that’s how you learn. If people always give you flowery words, then you’ll never know how to improve.
Q: SO WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT KEEPS YOU COMING TO WORK EVERY DAY?
(A) A passion for service and making others smile.
(Y) I get to interact with people from all over the world.
(R) I enjoy talking to guests. Just as they ask us questions to find out more about the place and culture, it’s also interesting to know where they come from, and what they do. I think I’ve had guests from everywhere, except maybe the Eskimos!