Enoch Banda our Duty Manager at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa, has been part of our team for 5 years and is a crucial cog in our well oiled management machine. We caught up with Enoch to find out more about his role and experiences.
To become a hotel Duty Manager, it is necessary to know the inner workings of a hotel – tell us about that:
Knowing the inner workings of the hotel is the most fundamental aspect for a Duty Manager in any establishment. It’s just like knowing the anatomy of your body which includes the body parts and the physiology of how each part functions – separately and together. Being a Duty Manager, you are an all rounder and need to have a bit of knowledge about each department in the hotel. I’m a hands on individual and my background knowledge gives me an advantage to execute my tasks.
How did you get started in the hospitality business:
I actually never imagined myself in the hospitality industry. But life has taught me never to say never. Look at me now, a qualified nursing professional presently a Duty Manager at a top boutique hotel! I came from Zimbabwe in 2006 hoping a get a job in the medical field but it didn’t happen so I eventually got one as waiter. This where my road to the hospitality industry began. I worked in many restaurants in Johannesburg before coming to AtholPlace Hotel & Villa. I have no regrets about my change in direction and am passionate about my job.
How did you get started at AtholPlace?
I started working at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa as waiter/butler. After four years I was promoted to the front office.
Tell us about any interesting skills you have picked up from your job?
Since my inception as a Duty Manager I have been able to learn and grow in the following areas: communication, leadership and interpersonal skills.
Teamwork is always important. Who makes up your team?
Certainly strong teamwork is vital in the hospitality industry but it’s a tricky question to say who makes up my team? I can say that the front office is my A team as it is the main base from where I operate. But in essence my job is to interrelate with all departments in the hotel as front office can’t operate single handed. So housekeeping can be termed my B team. Having said that AtholPlace is my team because we all function collectively and I’m involved in all departments.
Being a Hotel Duty Manager is a tough job – you need to be on your toes at all times. Do you enjoy the pressure? And how do you handle tricky customers?
I can’t actually say I enjoy pressure but I can deal with pressure at all cost with no signs of succumbing to it. I am that individual who is calm and I do not panic when I’m faced with challenges. What this industry has taught me is be always be ahead of the guest and always have an alternative. My advice is never to argue to with a guest as, the key component in dealing with a tricky guest is to believe what the guest tells you. For example if the guest says the bed is uncomfortable believe him or her regardless that hundreds of guest have slept in that bed with no complaints.
To ensure that the hotel operates efficiently when the General Manager is not here – you need to be on duty. Tell us about a normal day and how you stay motivated?
As soon as I come into work I assist with all check outs for that particular day and confirm all transfers. Then I move onto my morning greetings. I like to touch base with all guests during breakfast time: ask them how they slept; ask about plans for the day, arrange any transfers and ask if any excursions to places of interest need to be sorted out. Then I do room checks. Next I do a general check of the entire hotel paying particular attention to cleanliness. All of this is valuable information which I present in my daily report to the GM. My passion, purpose and enthusiasm are my main motivators.
A Duty Manager must have a kind personality, excellent attention to detail and thrive in a fast-paced work environment. What is your favourite part of the job?
I love interacting with guests! Working with individual guests means each day is different and I’m on a constant learning curve. This gives me a chance to improve my guest relations skills and find new ways to deal with everyday situations.
Being a people’s person is a must in your job – what do you most enjoy about interacting with guests?
Working directly with guests give me the opportunity to understand their needs. This is where personality and attention to detail comes into play This interaction forms a bond with a guest. Let me share a story about guest interaction. I hosted a guest at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa. We became friends. Then he booked me with his family and my family at the Villa. Then after two years he booked us again at the Villa and further took us to Morukuru in Madikwe with his family and my family. Wow! What a wonderful friend he has become. I have made many friends through guest interaction.
You often need to guide guests in their visits to Jozi. What are some of your favourite recommendations ?
For shopping I like to recommend Sandton City as it is one of the best shopping malls in Joburg and is conveniently situated for AtholPlace Hotel & Villa. Marble Restaurant is a great establishment and is well known for food cooked in flames and DW11-13 offers a brilliant tasting menu which our guests really enjoy. For an excursion I suggest visiting Soweto as this gives the guest an opportunity to explore one of our oldest townships and get information first hand.