Who: Chantal Heuwekemeijer
What: Front Office Manager
What does your function entail?
At the front office, we have guest service assistants, duty managers and concierges. I am there to supervise the teams and my responsibility is to make sure everything goes smoothly during the day. I do the planning and scheduling and evaluation talks, but I also do regular shifts at the front office. I kind of like to think of us as the heart of the hotel. We are the first point of contact, and we see and hear everything that happens. We are probably the department that has the most contact with all the other departments as well. If we change a guest’s room, I need to speak to housekeeping. I am in constant contact with my teammates in Reservations, Maintenance, Bar Brasserie OCCO and Restaurant Vinkeles. And I make sure to share what I hear. There is no use for being up to date if the information only stays with me. Communication is key here. It’s the only way to make sure we’re a few steps ahead of whatever goes on in the hotel.
How do you start your day?
I read the reports on what happened the previous night or day, I normally do that at home or in the tram. When I come in I do a little round in the hotel to see if everything looks tidy and I greet my colleagues. And then I make a cup of tea for my team. After I check my emails to see which guests are arriving and whether they have special wishes, or if we need to fix a little present for in the rooms – things like that. Only then my day really starts, and anything can happen. I sit in a little office behind the front office and I hear everything that goes around. If complaints come in we try not only to solve them but to give them a positive twist. If our guests remember their experience as a good one we succeeded. Today we are booked 100% which I always find a little daunting: if something happens I have no possibility to change rooms, so I will have to be creative. Last month was a really busy month anyway, and we did a good job. So I am really proud of my team.
What is the best moment of your day?
What I love most is those really busy days, when you’re up on your feet all day long and you realise at the end that you didn’t have any lunch. That’s when I am at my best, and I love high fiving with colleagues at the end of the day, drinking a good glass of wine and thinking: yes we did this.
Imagine; you don’t live here anymore, and you are just passing through. You have one day in Amsterdam. What do you do?
I’d meet my family and friends, maybe in a nice hotel bar, perhaps with a garden… I might even meet here and say hello to my old colleagues! In the evening I’d go out for dinner at Kaagman en Kortekaas, or de Gebroeders Hartering. The food and wine are simply great, and the atmosphere is easy and relaxed. Gebroeders Hartering is even better for a date; upstairs it’s cosy and dimly lit, with candles in empty wine bottles; just the way it should be.