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Women at Work: Emily Short

Sophie Mateer

Passionate, determined and not “just a receptionist”

In July of last year, the Doma Group competed in the AIRC’s National Receptionist of the Year competition where two candidates from their hotels meeting the standard of 4.5, 5 stars or higher were nominated to compete at a national level.

As a result, Canberran receptionist Emily Short has just received the honour of Receptionist of the Year for her work at Little National Hotel in Barton. This accolade will allow Emily to travel to Paris this month to represent Australia in the career she is so passionate about.

So how exactly do you select Australia’s best receptionist?

“The competition’s first stage entails a panel interview with six judges asking various questions about customer service and the receptionist’s own experience of hospitality,” explains Emily.

Sound difficult enough? That’s just the beginning.

“The second stage is a role-playing exercise where the competitors need to interact with five actors deciphering various problem-solving situations that require the participant to cater to each customer’s individual’s needs, as they would in a real-life hotel environment.”

Emily explains that problem-solving for hotel guests is a challenging balancing act wherein you need to appease the guest and show them you care while solving the issue within the boundaries of the hotel’s guidelines – usually while the phone is ringing, other guests are waiting and other needs are needing to be met.

“Sorting out a problem while still in business guidelines can be challenging,” explains Emily. “You must cater to each customer and make them feel as though you went that step further to make their experience a unique one.”

To make things even more challenging, in Paris, Emily will face competitors from across the world, whose standards of hospitality may be different to hers.

Emily says she wishes to bring Australia’s relaxed vibe to the international competition but intends to polish it as European hospitality is extremely formal and is taken very seriously.

With this in mind, Emily also wants to raise awareness from the competition, in the hopes that the stigma of being “just a receptionist” will evolve to being seen in Australia as a career, rather than just a transitory position.

Emily started working for the Doma Group 10 months ago and believes a crucial element for her success in the hospitality industry is due to the support and focus Doma puts on development and training to assist in furthering their employee’s careers.

Doma has had incredible success with their nominations with both Emily and previous national winner Madison Groom having had the opportunity to travel and compete internationally.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN THE IDEA OF “JUST A RECEPTIONIST”?

Emily says that if people took the time to observe the role, they’d be surprised.

“I would encourage anyone with this mentality to sit in a hotel lobby for 10-15 minutes to get a taste of the tasks a receptionist will encounter and try picture that day in day out,” says Emily with a smile.

“Although the lobby receptionist may not always have a guest to cater for, there is always something that needs to be organised or seen to.”

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD ON RECEPTION?

“A few weeks ago a young couple came into Little National to celebrate their first wedding anniversary and I noticed this woman had crazy nail art, with each nail representing a different aspect of her wedding day,” explains Emily.

“I noticed a rainbow rose with a red and white polka-dot ribbon on one of her nails and she told me it represented her wedding bouquet. So I decided to call my friend Nip who owns GG’s Flowers and arranged for a rainbow rose to be placed on the bed for when they arrived in their room.”

“When one of the girls from GG’s hand delivered the flower to the reception I saw that she had put a red and white polka-dot ribbon around the stem – it was fate.”

Needless to say, the guests were incredibly touched by the extra effort Emily had gone to.

“It was incredible to know that a small gesture like that would last a lifetime and it is a privilege to be involved in those special moments that make people’s stay so memorable,” she says.

WHERE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND PEOPLE VISIT WHILE IN CANBERRA?

“While everyone is different my top recommendations would have to be Old Parliament House, War Memorial, Carillion with a picnic by the waterfront and of course The National Gallery of Australia.”

Image: Supplied

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Sophie Mateer

Sophie Mateer has recently returned from a nine week holiday eating her way around the globe, from the busy streets of Hong Kong to the crystal clear waters of the Amalfi Coast and agrees that there’s no place like home. She is a food fanatic and can’t help herself when it comes to delectable Sunday brunches or indulging in smoothies across the Canberra region. She can’t wait to begin her degree in Marketing Management and Communications in Advertising at the University of Canberra in 2017. More about the Author

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