Marleen Owel's story
At high school I was wondering what job to do; I had to choose early, I was around 16 or 17, and I decided on tourism and hospitality. I went to hotel school to see if I liked it and in the first year I started working in restaurants, which wasn’t my thing, but in the second year, I had a hotel internship, in reception and that I enjoyed.
I have been at Accor since 2015. Hospitality and the way we worked in the hotel changed during lockdowns. When I started, bookings were mainly from airlines and stranded flights, but during and after lockdown, there were more leisure and business guests. At the moment the airline business will increase again, so that’s really nice.
We have had big team changes because at this hotel, when one person leaves, the department follows, so then we switch the whole team. When I started, there were several colleagues who had been here a long time – 10, 20 years – and when the coronavirus arrived, many left hospitality and that is how we attracted different type of people. Most of the new colleagues didn’t come from this country, but were born somewhere else. It’s really nice to work with so much different nationalities.
I started as a team member front office in 2015 and in 2017, I became front office supervisor, then assistant front office manager in 2019. From there, I applied for front office manager because my position ceased to exist but it was a bit too early. So I discussed with my manager what can be the next step. I already worked for 2 years as FO supervisor, so I was looking for something else.
Then, the back office manager left and that is how I came into that position, working with a small team, just two people and me. It was a side step to try to reach the next position as front office manager. Back of house is an administrative role, you are no longer in front of guests with a lot of team members; you make sure payments are made – credit card and cash – doing administration for front office. I learned so much about the relationship between front and back office but I missed the interaction with the guests.
In December, I started as front office manager in a temporary role. I really enjoyed being with the team members and seeing guests again, having that contact. From the 1st of April I will start officially as Front Office Manager and I will leave the Back Office Manager position. I’m really looking forward to the next step in my career.
The most important thing is to enjoy the work you are doing and enjoy working together in a team. As a team member, you need to like having nice conversations and take the service to the next level. In the 7½ years I have worked for ibis airport, I have had four or five positions and in a short time, I grew from team member to manager. It’s important to know what your goals are because there are many opportunities within Accor, in your hotel and those nearby.
If you are looking for a first job, the work environment in hospitality is great; your always working with an enthusiastic team. There are many openings both to grow and to stay in your position and have a good time. Every day is different; there is a number of shifts and there is always something going on. I started wondering whether hospitality was for me and once I started my first internship, I realised it was great!
- Marleen Owel
- Back Office Manager
- ibis and ibis Budget Amsterdam Airport (The Netherlands)