Women at Work: Dion Bisa

Molly McLaughlin

“We didn’t try to compare ourselves to other hotels. We put our personality into it and we’ve done our own thing.”

Dion Bisa’s personality shines through in the warmth and attention to detail that is everywhere at East, the hotel that she manages alongside her brother Dan. After a career as a psychologist in Sydney, Dion jumped straight into the deep end of hospitality.

“My father had a 40th anniversary dinner for his construction business and I was sitting next to my brother Dan,” she explains. “He was talking about this hotel he was building and on the plane on the way home I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could help.”

So she moved back to Canberra and joined the family business, starting with managing the interior design of the hotel, then moving on to a position as the conference and events manager, working in sales, and finally ending up as the assistant general manager.

“It’s just been a massively steep learning curve because I had never had any experience in hospitality or hotels,” she says, “but we didn’t try to compare ourselves to other hotels. We put our personality into it and we’ve done our own thing.”

According to Dion, working as part of a small team managing a hotel means that every day is different. She deals mostly with marketing the hotel, but the diversity keeps her interested.

“My average day starts very early at the gym at 5.30,” Dion says. “Then we have a morning meeting everyday where we talk about who’s coming in, who’s checking out, any issues that we’ve had with guests, any VIPS, so all the heads of the departments catch up. From there, it could be anything.”

As part of marketing the hotel, Dion is also passionate about promoting Canberra and raising the profile of the city as a weekend destination. This has started to pay off with increased visits from families who love the unique features East offers, like bunk beds and games in the kids’ rooms.

“People are looking for something more interesting than a traditional hotel,” she says. “Travel is becoming more experiential, it’s about staying somewhere where the little things that make a difference. Because we’re a small family owned hotel, we can do that all the time, we can act spontaneously.”

Dion prioritises family time and relaxes by cooking and spending time with her partner and two kids. The hotel keeps her pretty busy, but she’s not complaining.

“Really, what I love about my job is the team that I work with,” she says. “They’re amazing, they’re all so passionate about it and they love Canberra as much as I do, so we have a lot of fun.”

Feature image by Adam McGrath, H Creations Photography


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author