HM catches up with Radisson Group Regional Manager Australia and Pacific, Peter Tudehope, for one of the great stories from a long career in hospitality.
What was your first job in the accommodation industry and for how long?
My first job in accommodation was Duty Manager at Dormie House in Moss Vale, NSW. It was a 33-room guest house right on Moss Vale Golf Course. I spent five years working there because I was very keen on the boss’ daughter, whom I ended up marrying. I left there and was part of the opening team at the InterContinental in Sydney, where I started as Night Manager.
Can you tell us a funny, embarrassing or memorable story involving you from the early part of your career?
As part of my development, InterContinental sent me to the Willard Hotel in Washington to work in Housekeeping for three months. For the first week, I was paired up with Ethel to clean rooms. We had 14 rooms each day to clean. Coming from a Front Office background, I was wondering what all the fuss was about when it came to housekeeping. Ethel would tear into these rooms – nothing fazed her – whereas I was walking around thinking how disgusting some of the rooms were. At the end of the first week, I was on my own. The first day, I managed to clean four rooms in the same time Ethel took to clean 14. It took me six weeks to get 14 rooms done in a day. From that day on, I have had a deep respect for what housekeeping teams do every day.
Another memorable moment was working in a Hotel in South Korea during the 1988 Olympic Games. We were the hotel hosting the elite athletes and major sponsors. Some of the athletes staying at the hotel were Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and Flo Joyner. Departure day arrived and my role was to support the Front Office team. So I had organised with the Front Office Manager (FOM) to have seven receptionists on for the departure day. There were 594 rooms in the hotel and they were all leaving on the same day. I turned up to work at 6am and there were only four receptionists. I asked the FOM where the other three were? His response was – they will be back in three years! Turns out they had been called up for National Service only the night before. So there I was with four receptionists and myself. I was the only one that could speak English. That day, I checked out 500 rooms and my colleagues between them checked out 94. A day I will never forget.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to young people assessing whether hospitality or tourism is right for them as a profession?
I would say to any young person thinking about a career in our industry – don’t listen to the outside noise you hear about tourism and hospitality. It is not just an industry people work in to support themselves while they chase a real job. There are many great career paths within our industry.
If you are prepared to work hard, the opportunities will come your way. You have to persevere. You also have to take the good with the bad. Always remember if one door closes, another will open. Stay focused on your goal and you will get there.