Alex Billing and Jason Zvatora from Next Story Group welcome you to Ink.
Alex Billing and Jason Zvatora from Next Story Group welcome you to Ink.

HM spotted Next Story Group’s Vice President – Operations, Alex Billing recently and stopped to say hello, where he shared a great story from his early career about a day very early in his career which involved more than an eyeful.

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

It goes back to 1999 and I was lucky enough to get a position as Trainee Manager at The Rendezvous Golden Beach Resort on the Sunshine Coast. It was what you would call a ‘baptism of fire’ to the hotel industry! I had a six-day-a-week contract and I would come in at 6am each morning to cook and serve breakfast and then work in administration until after lunch. After a break in the afternoon, I would then work at reception until 11pm. Though it was full on and unstructured, it taught me some amazing lessons and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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

There are countless unforgettable memories from those early days. One that stands out was when I was transferred from the Golden Beach Resort to a bigger international hotel as a Trainee Manager. I was looking forward to a more structured management training programme in what I thought would be considered a ‘normal’ hotel. On my first day, I was assigned to a week of room service as part of the F&B department.

There I was, fresh faced and excited for my first delivery with the supervisor. As we headed up the elevator, he said we were going to a VIP room so I was to be on my best behaviour. The next thing I knew, I was face to face with a fully naked British rock star, who was standing there with his robe wide open. Let’s just say that set the scene for the remainder of that year. If my first year gave me a great grounding in doing everything in hotel operations, that second year opened my eyes to how crazy the industry could be. I have loved every bit of it since then!

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?

There are a lot of misconceptions about the industry such as it being only a part-time job or for those that are studying at University. If you enjoy working with people and hate the thought of a conventional 9-5 desk job, then hospitality can offer amazing gateways to so many professional careers. Whether it’s in sales, marketing, PR, finance, HR or guest services, there are so many options.

My advice is to get your foot in the door, work hard and make your plans known. We love to hear what team members are passionate about and will always work with them to get to their next career goal.