Front of house manager, Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey
Nominator David Connell, South Lodge hotel, Horsham, West Sussex
After earning a first-class degree in international hospitality management, Rachael Stevens was snapped up by Elite Hotels in 2016 as a management trainee. She trained across 14 roles before becoming assistant guest services manager at South Lodge hotel in 2018. A mere six months later she was made guest services manager, leading a team of 14.
In May this year, she earned further promotion to front of house manager at Pennyhill Park, with the vision to soon be stepping up to rooms division manager as part of the senior leadership team of the 124-bedroom resort.
Her achievements to date include the highest guest service score (92.6%) across the portfolio of six hotels in 2018-19. She also devised revenue-generating initiatives such as personalised welcome letters, courtesy call upsells and increased communications via in-room tablets. An ‘extend your stay' initiative affected overall total revpar with positive year-on-year movement of 48% (2018-19 versus 2019-20) and occupancy rates increasing by 10.3%.
Stevens' competitive mindset drives her professional development. Outside her working day she has completed a leadership development programme and achieved ILM level 3 and WSET Level 2 (with merit) among others.
She also helps to promote the hospitality industry as a profession of choice, by creating content for CareerScope webinars and becoming a branch chair at the Institute of Hospitality.
What is the most positive people change you see for your sector post-restrictions?
"That we are not just an industry, but a family. We've supported one another, we've supported those at the frontline, like the NHS, and we've shown the world how kind we are. We've recognised that looking after our people is more important than ever. Our operations will change to accommodate this realisation, and that will help to realign hospitality as a career of choice."
Photography: Hospitality Media/Adrian Franklin