Crystalbrook Collection CEO, Geoff York.

HM stops by for a chat with Crystalbrook Collection Acting CEO, Geoff York, to learn a bit more about his career and hear a great yarn about customer recovery from his earlier days.

What was your first job in the accommodation industry and how long were you in it?

Shortly after graduating hotel school, l landed my first full time role as a Duty Manager in a 180-room hotel in Melbourne. Prior to that, l had the usual casual jobs in hospitality learning how to pull beers, wait tables, cashiering, basic finance, customer service and wash dishes. The best part of which was to instill with me a humility and understanding on what it takes for people to do those jobs day in, day out and to keep them motivated and proud in what they were doing. Two and a half years later, l was General Manager of that hotel but decided to move on, having learnt an incredible amount on what to do and not to do and developing an early understanding on what leadership, building pride and motivation are really all about.

Can you tell us a funny, embarrassing or memorable story involving you from the early part of your career?

I remember one where I was trying to console an irate guest who was complaining about the condition of the guest rooms. Two years prior, when considering to book the hotel for a major conference, he had been promised by the person he booked with that a full refurbishment was planned and would be complete by the time of their event.

This was all news to me so the day had arrived and of course no full refurbishment had occurred! Despite me saying what a great time they would still have and how great our marvellous hotel team was, he wouldn’t stop shouting. So, attempting to calm things down, l invited him into my office just off the lobby. He walked in, sat down on one side of my desk, at which moment the chair collapsed under him. To this day l have no idea why it did. I remember rushing around, him looking up surrounded by broken chair pieces and then walking out without saying a word. Their conference ended up going extremely well with the hotel team in recovery mode the whole time.

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?

You have to love being around people, being comfortable in a fast-moving environment and being ready to take on responsibility. That you will work when others aren’t. That hospitality is a business where balancing profits against service delivery and customer expectations is never ending but immensely rewarding.