Hotelier and Traveler

09/09/2016 § Leave a comment

I am part of the hospitality industry, and working in a hotel in Singapore. The city-state, in general, is an expensive city/country to be in. It is a general knowledge, really. Even the locals would admit to it; some would even say ‘anywhere outside Singapore is cheap’. That is probably the reason why travelling outside of the country is the ‘IN’ thing, for both locals and expats.

With the high-cost of living comes better public facilities which are very useful and convenient for locals and foreigners alike. And honestly, Singapore isn’t so bad of a country to be in. But what you would have spent in the country to have a good holiday would probably go far in other cities, say, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh, or the closest neighbor, Johor Bahru. And the regular low fares from budget airlines is just fueling the fire, which to the travel savvies are jackpot. Even I am subscribed to get email notifications should there be sale on airfares. My only problem is that I normally don’t get to enjoy the holiday in peace.

Working in a hotel means having to deal with the holiday rush. Holiday means business for our industry, which means busy period, peak or high season. And when it is an expected busy period to the hotel, it also means lesser people being allowed to go on leave at once, sometimes, no one is even allowed to at all. It is an unspoken rule, with exceptions if you are celebrating that holiday. I get off the hook for Christmas because I am Catholic, but it isn’t a very long leave either because of the year-end festivities. It is common to have a man-power shortage in our line of work, especially in Singapore, and it has been like that for a long time now.  And for peak periods in the hotel industry, we try to have as much people on duty as we could.

Probably because of my line of work that I found interest in travelling to different places, to see other things besides high-rise buildings, and city life. I deal with different people everyday, mostly of varied nationalities. Some come to Singapore for business purpose, while others for leisure. If guests ask me what is good to do in Singapore, I would answer with the typical must-visit places. In the back of my mind though, I would always think that there’s actually nothing to do in Singapore, especially one that isn’t expensive. I also got used to the travel patterns of certain nationalities. If it is winter in their place, they come to somewhere warmer like Singapore. That being said, Singapore is also a hub for transits from the west to the south. If a UK nationality is already landing in Singapore on the way to Australia, might as well do a little city tour before proceeding to their destination. It is to cut the flying hours, rest a little and get used to the difference in time zone. I guess I have been exposed to the industry for a long while now that these patterns are something I use for general knowledge, and sometimes to my benefit.

Travelling for me is usually Singapore-Philippines route. That was before I went to Bali with friends. I joined because it was like a second home to one of my dear friends and he covered most of my expenses. It was a great place, much like Philippines in terms of infrastructures, roads, and weather conditions, and definitely a must visit place. It’s a plus that it’s cheaper than Singapore. That was in year 2013, my second year in Singapore. On 2014, I braved it out and booked a flight to Phuket. That was when I started travelling solo.

That is probably when I became engrossed with travelling, most of the time by myself. I experience new things, see new places, learn a new language, and understand another culture. There is always a thrill for discovering new things, and with travelling comes an unending thrill for trying something different, and seeing something new. It’s like you’re on a shot of adrenaline rush during your entire stay overseas. You’re like a mass of life and energy, always ready for something different, laughing off something that went wrong. You become a vibe of optimism while you are in a different country, and you let nothing to make you go awry.

I think that going to a different country, being exposed to a different culture, and getting to see things that the locals normally just ignore on a daily basis, is a great thing. It’s part self-discovery, and part exploration. Self-discovery because you get to appreciate things that you normally ignore everyday, like enjoying a decent meal after your 8-hr shift while others worked the whole day just to barely provide food  for their families. You improve yourself as a person, you learn how to connect and communicate to others better without having to know their language, and you see things you normally don’t on your pampered little life. You get to explore things outside your normal circle, try food you’ve never even heard before, learn words for basic greetings which will probably be the only things you would learn of the language, and see other places you usually see on that travel  blog you’re following. The list would go on on why you should travel but to several people, it’s sometimes a far-fetched dream, or a hard-earned splurging.

Travelling is just a recent addition to the things that I do. Granted the cost of having a good time in Singapore, I have started packing my things to fly somewhere instead of staying at home to sleep-in late, and going shopping afterwards. It’s a good thing that travelling comes easy in Singapore. There is easy access to lots of international airports for budget airlines. In case the point of embarkation comes a little above your budget if coming from Singapore, you can always check flights from Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok. It could be a little hassle but there are a few flights coming from Singapore that would definitely fit your schedule. I’ve been to a few countries and cities in Asia, and still in the process of seeing as much of the continent as I could. Not all the places that I wanted to visit have direct flights (that are cheap) from Singapore, that’s why I need to do a little research to see from which airport, which is accessible from Singapore, I could get a cheaper flight.

Being a hotelier and liking to travel is a little difficult. Firstly, I don’t get to enjoy a weekly 2-day off, and planning my leave is a pain. I need to find available dates that my colleagues have not taken yet, so I get to enjoy my holiday without worrying about it being cancelled because someone has requested for leave first. Secondly, I really can’t enjoy the holiday spirit because while everyone else is on the holiday mood, I’m working my ass off dealing with another person who’s on a holiday mood that has been ruined. Taking leaves and off-in-lieu’s on holiday season is a no-go. I don’t get to enjoy the holiday period promos, and holiday festivities. I am in the line of work that deals with holidays, so I can’t celebrate the holiday on the day itself. Is that a bad thing for me? Honestly, no.

The good thing about my line of work is since I can’t travel on peak periods, I can always travel during off-season. Off season means less people travelling, cheaper airfares, and more lodging options to choose from. I am the type that likes to enjoy the holiday in peace and travelling on high season is probably something I wouldn’t even dare. And I basically don’t like the crowd. I like to use my time doing things on my own pace instead of wasting it queuing for that must-go UNESCO World heritage site jam packed with hundreds or thousands of other tourists. I have a list of places to visit, and things to do that are probably more on the off-beaten path, but I still want to see what tourists, backpackers, and travelers usually go to see. And the best time to enjoy the famous attractions is to go during low season.

I work in hotel and I like travelling. Granted my line of work, you might say I know the tricks for hotels…well, yes, but I normally don’t use it to my advantage. I don’t ask the receptionist upon check-in if they are full house, and ask for a free upgrade if they are not. I don’t try to be that fussy guest that I hate. I am usually always on a budget travel, but I don’t spare myself from enjoying my holiday to the fullest. As I like travelling alone, I do not need to think of what other people wanted to do. I think the best part is that I don’t need to wait for anyone, or worry that they do not like something that I want to do. I can manage my time, and make adjustments according to my whims. I do not need to think about another person. All I need to do and relax, and enjoy my holiday. It’s not that travelling with friends is too much of a hassle (though it is at times), but I prefer to enjoy my freedom without anything, or anyone, to worry about. Perhaps, I just haven’t found that travel buddy who is exactly like me. But, travelling by yourself, on a non-peak period is probably one of the best times that I always enjoy.





Kill me now, party for one

26/07/2016 § Leave a comment

I always believe that work, anywhere you are, is always the same. It makes you feel stressed, accomplished, self-defeated, acknowledged, and fulfilled. It is a roller-coaster of everything, because even if you don’t want to, work will definitely take up most of your everyday life, or really, your life in general. There were a fair a mount of downs and fucked ups, you wouldn’t be able to help it. I think, however, that the ups and accomplishments and lessons gained from them are much more satisfying at the end of the day. Work is work, and wherever you go, it will remain as what it is.

Though work remains the same, I believe that the people you are working with, your boss, and the management, makes the workload either harder of lighter. You wouldn’t want to work for a company or a boss that requires you to work over ten hours each day without proper compensation, simply because your contract states that you will be required to work overtime when needed. ‘When needed’ is such a vague statement in an argument. It could be 2 or more hours each of your working day, and by the end of the month, your entire work hours is just as good as working without rest day for the whole month. I’ve been there and it wasn’t a very happy situation for me.

A good management, and in extension, a boss, could only affect your work so much as they have better things to do. The colleagues you are actually working with are the ones who are greatly affecting your workload, your mood, and the environment you are working with in general. And in my line of work, which is the hospitality industry, people easily come and go. There were always new ones that needed training, and guidance. There were always people who needs to learn from scratch. And in my years of working in this line, I have learned to dislike newbies, or training new people. Sure they are fresh, and easier to train, but I do not like the idea of training other people. I am not a teacher for heaven’s sake, and I strongly believe in my incompetence in teaching other people. I have to bear  with it though, as it comes with the job scope. As I said, work is work.

Training actually is just the same for everyone. We explain and tell new people the same thing, the tasks of each shifts and the basics of what we needed to do. A week of training someone is both fun and a little stressful, especially when you can see that that person is not even making any effort to apply what was taught to him/her. I particularly do not like repeating myself a number of times within an hour, save for the check-in and check-out spiel that I easily blurt out of reflex. It is one thing when you explained it to them and they don’t get it when they try to do it the first time. Second time is for trying again, trying to figure out what they missed. Third time is for polishing but less mistakes on their part is to be expected. The fourth, if they still screw up like they didn’t do it before is a different story entirely. As I said, I do not like repeating myself. Half the time I will also not bother on how other people do their work so long as they do it properly. But if I told them not to do something, but they still did it half an hour later, I will just go ‘What the fuck are you doing?!”

Training new people should be easy, even if they don’t have experience. It is just a matter  of getting used to doing the work which takes a while. Training new people who seems to have difficulty processing what has been told to them is a challenge. If that new person, however, still does not understand what you are saying after explaining it in three different manner, then, I seriously think that person has a problem he/she needs to work on. In our line of work, it is always training on the job, meaning, you learn what you need to do while actually working. Screwing up is acceptable, because your new, and it is unavoidable. But doing the same mistake over and over again means that you actually did not learn anything from previous mistakes.

For the previous week, I worked with this considerably new girl (she’s been in the company for three months but was mostly in another section, and was only one month in our section). I have worked with her before but I am not the person who’s actually teaching her. We have basically taught her what she needed to do and learn. I thought she could work just fine, which for the most part is true. She knows the basic of the check-in and check-out, but she will still have questions of course. The problem is that she doesn’t ask when it actually matters. I am a mean senior, I know. Even if I am standing just beside her and watching what she is doing, I am not going to jump in and correct her if it is something basic, like nothing that will cause trouble. I can just explain it to her afterwards. The thing is, even after you explained to her what she did wrong after she did it, she will still do it.

In my five years of working in the company, she is the only person who made me yell in a scolding manner. Hands down to her. I think even my assistant manager, who we were working with at that time, was surprised with me. I am usually an easy-go-lucky type with lax standards, but once you pissed me off, you’ll definitely be marked as someone I should go away from for a certain reason. Anyway, there was another day that I was working with her and she actually did something drastic, that ended up making my blood boil. She did not do something that is very basic in our work, and we have to deal with it. My blood just instantly boiled, and I need to force myself to smile because I was in front of the guest, and even the forced smile, does not even come close to a cheery one. Once again, I need to scold her, and for the second time that week told her that ‘I don’t need you apology. I need you to remember what we were telling you.’

What ticks me off too is that when you are scolding her, or telling her something, she would just say yes as if she understood what you told her. In reality, she does not even get one thing that you told her. Like one fucking sorry can resolve the damage caused.

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