Choice Hotels Asia-Pac CEO Trent Fraser

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

My first job in the accommodation industry was in Food and Beverage at a five-star hotel in Canberra. I did mini-bars during the day and worked in functions and banquets in the evening. It was a great experience and one that I look back at fondly. I learned so much in those early days in my career from colleagues that had been in the industry for many years.

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

I once held the role of Doorman at an upmarket Jazz Supper Club within the Parkroyal Canberra. It was my second day on the job on a Saturday night, with an international performer playing and I had been told many people try to ‘talk their way in’ rather than pay the $10 cover charge. A short time into my shift, a very well dressed couple arrived, and the gentleman introduced himself and stated he ran the hotel, before trying to walk through into the venue! In my eagerness to impress my supervisor, whom I could see from across the floor pulling strange stressful faces at me, and pointing to the couple at the door, I quickly realised she was indicating that there in front of me was an example of what she was talking about! These two were trying to bluff their way in for for nothing!

I firmly (but politely) pushed back on their request to enter the venue, and explained I could let them in at a cost of $20. After some polite but heightened discussion about how he really was the GM (‘yeah right’, I thought) I was assisted by my supervisor who rushed over and promptly introduced me to the gentleman. Indeed he was the GM of the Parkroyal Canberra.

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?

If you’re prepared to go all in, have a true passion for serving customers and dealing with people, and love variety in your job every day, with opportunities to travel the world, then hospitality and tourism may be right for you.