Gábor Demény's story
I got into hospitality by mistake. In 2008, my then girlfriend decided to move to London and I was 17 or 18 and in big love, so I wanted to follow her but I was a professional footballer in Hungary’s Leagues I and II. There was a summer break in football so I went with her; I thought I would come back to Hungary and we would have a long-distance relationship. I visited London and Brighton but after four or five days, I got bored, so I told my girlfriend I was going to get a job so that I had some money to spend on new football boots when I came back to Hungary.
A job agency sent me to Novotel Tower Bridge to do a breakfast shift as a waiter and after a week, the manager offered me a full-time job. I said I appreciated it but my football coach was waiting for me – everyone wanted to be a professional football player.
However, after two or three days, I did some research into Accor and decided, I’m 18, I can probably play football until I’m 29 or 30 but what am I going to do afterwards? So maybe it would be a good to accept this opportunity with one of the biggest and best companies, to stay in London and with my girlfriend, and give up football. I started as a waiter and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I was general manager when this hotel was being built; I started on March 7 and it opened on August 16. I was not able to influence the design of the hotel much because it’s part of the Mercure chain and we have to follow that style. I had most impact on the restaurant – the chairs, number of tables and where to put them, the buffet, china, cutlery, and I am very pleased with the result.
The hotel has 155 rooms; there are 135 in the hotel and 20 apartments with mostly long-term guests. We have weekly cleaning in the apartments, so if we have availability and someone wants one for a week, we can do that.
Running apartments is partly the same as running a hotel and partly not. They are in the same building and it is slightly easier to run apartments because guests stay for a month, so we don’t have to do check-in, check-out, deposit, etc. We are doing well: we have 20 apartments, 15 are rented out and 10 of those are long term; the guests have been here since the opening and they work for a local company; they recently signed a contract to stay until the end of 2023.
I still love football and when I was working in London I played for the Novotel London Tower Bridge team and Accor ran a tournament; when I was in Budapest, I played for ibis Budapest Centrum. Sadly, in Debrecen, we don’t have any other Accor hotels but I want to arrange a charity football match between all the properties in the city to raise money for a children’s charity.
I have worked for Accor for almost 15 years and to anyone new in the industry, your mental strength will be tested to a great degree but this will make you stronger in every way. If you can withstand the pressure, it will help you do the job. And each day is different, you are not doing the same thing day in, day out, so you don’t get bored.
Something different will please every guest and our job is to make their stay as memorable as possible. If you come into hospitality, it is exciting to deal with new challenges every day, and the skills you learn in one hotel are transferable to another.
- Gábor Demény
- General Manager
- Mercure Debrecen (Hungary)