The multilingual director of revenue management at the Pine Cliffs, a Luxury Collection resort in Albufeira, Portugal, tells Janet Harmer about her graduate training and becoming a director at a young age
Can you tell me about the recent renovation project at Pine Cliffs?
What does your job entail?
I am responsible for total revenue management and reservations for 729 keys and 11 food and beverage outlets within the resort. I am responsible for pricing and distribution as well as developing and implementing our business strategy. Although I am office-based, I am still guest-focused, and I enjoy spending time talking to our guests and learning first-hand what is important to them.
What do you enjoy most about living and working in the Algarve?
The Algarve at first felt a little unnatural as a work location. How can I feel so relaxed with all this sunshine and surrounded by beautiful beaches while at work?! I didn't realise just how much the Algarve has to offer. I also love taking road trips, discovering cultural sites, experiencing local food and meeting local people.
What do you most dislike?
I would like people to see beyond the beaches and to explore and discover the real Algarve, as well as enjoy the fantastic sports, such as walking, cycling and golf.
Did you always intend to work in hotels overseas?
I have a thirst for learning, which has fuelled my decision to study languages and cultures. While I intended to work in the financial sector in the UK, my heart always returned to my first experience of working abroad in hospitality. I opted for an international career in hospitality as I fell in love with exploring new cultures, learning languages and meeting people who inspired me and taught me new ways of thinking.
How easy was it to get that first job?
I did a lot of research about Starwood Hotels & Resorts prior to my first interview, and the more I learned, the stronger my desire became to be part of such an ethical and well-structured company. I managed to get a place on Starwood's Vita Futura graduate management programme [Starwood became part of Marriott International last month].
Why did you decide to specialise in revenue management?
The structure of the programme meant I could experience different departments in the business, but when I started in revenue management I really felt inspired. I love to take responsibility and be challenged, and that's exactly what my job entails. I get to analyse trends, implement strategies and see the effects of my work.
What key skills do you need to become a director of revenue management by the age of 25?
When I started work at the Westin Grand Frankfurt I was fortunate enough to have Svenja Zeit as a terrific mentor, and she encouraged me to think for myself, make decisions and step out of my comfort zone. I learned to not accept things at face value, be proactive, and to take calculated risks.
How important have your language skills been?
Although English is widely spoken as a second language, I have found that local language skills are a necessity in order to interact with guests and to integrate into the local culture. Had I not been able to speak German, French and Spanish, this may have limited my choice of new opportunities.
2015-present director of revenue management, Pine Cliffs, a Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve, Portugal
2015 director of revenue management (maternity cover), Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Seville, Spain
2014 complex revenue management executive, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Zurich and Davos, Switzerland
2012-2013 Vita Futura management trainee, the Westin Grand Frankfurt, Germany
2008-2012 BA (Hons) in modern languages (French and Spanish), Durham University
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