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The Big Interview with Isabel Bayoumi

JodyP 7 August 2019
The Big Interview with Isabel Bayoumi

How long have you worked at Amba Hotel Charing Cross?
I moved to London from Turkey in 1969, when I was 23. My English was limited and I learned on the job. My first job at the hotel was my first role in hospitality and I have never looked back. On 23rd September it will be my 50 th anniversary working at Amba Hotel Charing Cross.

What role did you start in at the hotel? 
My first role at the hotel was as a chambermaid, where I looked after the executive suites. I was fortunate enough to receive the Maid of the Year award in my first year on the job.

How has your role developed/changed since you started? 
After working in the housekeeping department for three years, I was promoted to the restaurant where I worked as a waitress. I often used to cover the hostess duties, as it was the role I enjoyed most. Today I work in the Terrace Restaurant, a beautiful Victorian venue that overlooks The Strand.

I now enjoy taking the younger staff members under my wing and guiding them as they develop in their roles. It is great to watch their confidence grow. Mentoring also ensures each shift runs smoothly. In everything I do, I try to lead by example and work to deliver excellent service each day to every guest that walks into the restaurant.

What sets Amba Hotel Charing Cross out from other employers?
Amba Hotel Charing Cross is a wonderful place to work. It is a beautiful, historic Victorian building, located in the heart of London. Working at one of the original railway hotels is privilege I don’t take for granted.

However, most importantly, the hotel is staffed with amazing, dedicated and friendly employees. This starts at the Senior Management, who are supportive of all employees, and extends to the dedicated team I work with on a daily basis. I have built many friendships with colleagues over the years, who have made the last 50 years an amazing experience. Having a close relationship has also allowed our team to create a culture of unparalleled service for guests. We all strive to provide the best for each and every guest. This level of customer service was recently recognised as the team won an award for Customer Service at the London Conference Awards.

What has been the driving factor in your decision to stay at this hotel for 50 years? 
That’s an easy question to answer, I love what I do. I think of Amba Hotel Charing Cross as my second home. I have always been supported by a great team and had the ability to grow and learn along the way.

In working at the restaurant I am able to interact with different people each day, and have even developed a rapport with some of our regulars. Making guests happy never gets old.

What do you feel is the most important factor in delivering excellent customer service? 
Always go the extra mile to look after your guests, and be ready to meet their needs. Attention to detail is something that I have taken pride in. I always try to recognise repeat guests, remember names and learn specific food and drink preferences. It is very important to actively listen to guests and properly understand their requests. I always aim to meet and exceed expectations. When I am able to deliver, achieve a positive outcome, and most importantly make a guest smile, I can’t help but smile too.

How have you developed relationships with customers throughout your career?
Throughout my time working at the restaurant I have developed strong relationships with our regular customers. I take pride in my ability to learn guest preferences and special requests.

I work to ensure every guest feels welcomed, whether they stay for one night or for an extended period. Remembering a name, or how someone takes their coffee goes a long way to creating memorable experiences. I am very grateful to call some of our guests friends.

What advice would you give to someone starting their hospitality career?
Put yourself in the guest’s shoes. It’s always important to view situations from their perspective, as it helps to understand their feelings, wants and needs. Greet every guest with a genuine smile, it goes a long way.

What has been the most memorable moment during your time? 
There have been so many great moments. If I had to highlight one, it would be when I received my first award, for Best Maid of the year. As a result, the Evening Standard wrote an article about me, which was a very special moment.