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Hotel Cateys 2017: Front of House Manager of the Year winner, Sally Humphrey, the Grove

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Hotel Cateys 2017: Front of House Manager of the Year winner, Sally Humphrey, the Grove

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It’s little more than a year since Sally Humphrey took over the running of the 35- strong front of house department at the Grove hotel in Chandler’s Cross,  Hertfordshire, but in that time both she and her team have gone from strength to strength.

Her job is by no means easy. On a typical day the front of house team will find  itself juggling corporate, conference, wedding and leisure guests, who are all  experiencing the hotel at the same time. Not only that, but those guests can check in at any one of three locations – the main reception, the business centre or the golf course. Nonetheless, Humphrey and her team have developed the ability to  consistently manage and deliver individual guest experiences that are both seamless and personal.

But it hasn’t always been that way. When Humphrey took over she inherited a team that suffered from a high turnover of staff and a lack of motivation, and team members who were judged to be more functional than personal. Humphrey set about altering the perceptions of both guests and colleagues through an approach based on mutual respect and a shared responsibility to change the way things had been done before.

She has worked to empower the team to be able to put things right personally  when a situation has not gone the way it was planned, when the team has fallen short of a guest’s expectation or the unexpected has occurred. Then there’s the development of an incentive programme to increase the team’s willingness to work together.

She is passionate about the guest journey and ensures that the hotel is aware of all guests who require special attention ahead of time. Humphrey also places a  strong emphasis on training, standards and employee development, and this has helped reduce employee turnover. Members of the team have been able to progress: receptionists into supervisors, and junior managers into more senior
roles, such as guest services managers.

Recently, she had to think on her feet when the Opera Cloud Services system was  down for two days and she instituted a temporary system to ensure that hotel operations were unaffected. She stayed in-house for that time to type bills manually for departure and to make sure that all revenues were accounted for. It was this leadership and can-do attitude that impressed our judges.

What the judges said

“Sally has shone with her commitment to people. Changing the service personality at a property like the Grove could have been a daunting task, but she has achieved this and created a confident, professional and energetic team.”
Emma Stewart

“Sally is going from strength to strength, managing a large and complex  operation. She has re-motivated the team, which has led to a much reduced  turnover. There is great communication across the whole resort and she is always passionate about guest services.”
Michael Grange

“Sally is a very worthy winner among some stiff competition. She manages her  team well, motivates and cajoles them in a difficult-to-run, multi-faceted business. Well done Sally!”
Alistair Sandall

Cem Caglar Hilton London Bankside
Sally Humphrey The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire
Emma Kirk Blythswood Square, Glasgow
Bryony Madge Grosvenor House Suites by Jumeirah Living, London
Maris Tucs The Arch London

Past winners
2016 Laura Godman Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
2015 Lorena Somera The Capital
2014 Thoralf Kretzschmar Lancaster London
2013 Clarisse Abbey-Blackmore Crowne Plaza London Docklands
2012 Rachel Thomas Danesfield House
2011 Joanne Alder Park Plaza Victoria
2010 Ben Seager The Chesterfield Mayfair
2009 Ben Malpass The Cavendish Hotel
2008 Carly Taylor Ston Easton Park
2007 Felicity Wheeler Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane

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