By Ryan Kim—Student, School of Hospitality Management
From an outside perspective, a hotel may simply appear to be a place to spend the night, but for those of us in the hospitality industry, a hotel is a well-oiled machine, dependent on the efficient operation of every gear and screw. At ICE, as hospitality management students, we’re fortunate enough to experience the inner workings of hotels through guest speakers who are actively working in the hotel industry. Most recently, my class had the pleasure of meeting Eveline Chen, the executive housekeeper at the Hotel Wolcott in Koreatown, close to the Empire State Building.
While my classmates and I may never have the firsthand experience of preparing hundreds of rooms for guests, an understanding of hotel housekeeping is essential to our success in the industry. What’s more, Eveline had incredible insight into the hotel infrastructure as a whole, from how to maintain positive relationships with your colleagues to how to advance through the ranks of hotel management.
Eveline has more than 15 years of housekeeping management experience: 10 years at the Wolcott and five at the Sofitel. She stressed that two important skills she has learned were patience and attention to detail. No matter what role you’re playing, big or small, it impacts the guest experience.
Another point that Eveline highlighted was the importance of establishing good relationships in the workplace. In the hotel industry, you end up spending a lot of time at work, with your supervisors and your employees. Bringing a sense of humor to the less pleasant or stressful parts of a job has been essential for her to remain happy at work. Moreover, Eveline emphasized the importance of teamwork. As the Wolcott is a smaller hotel, many of Eveline’s employees are crosstrained to pitch in on various roles.
While housekeeping may not initially seem like the most interesting part of the hotel industry, Eveline has been my favorite guest speaker to date. In addition to sharing her personal advice, she also showed us around the Wolcott, a historic hotel that is more than 100 years old and an official NYC landmark. The building combines French neoclassicism and beaux-arts styles, and its sculptural aesthetic stands out against the surrounding buildings, exuding a subtle charm. Going behind-the-scenes at the Wolcott was thus a particularly special experience, as we shadowed some of the housekeepers on their daily routines. Thanks to Eveline and her staff, I now have a new perspective on the small details and constant maintenance that can help make or break the success of a hotel.
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