Member Spotlight

International recognition for top hotel staffer

Priyanka Payal Sharma is a Senior Receptionist and Duty Manager at CityLife Auckland. Earlier this year, she flew to Paris to compete in the AICR international receptionist of the year competition.

Q:           What school qualifications did you attain and in which subjects?

I studied until year 13 in high school and completed NCEA level three. My chosen subjects in school were geography, classical studies, economics and dance, along with statistics and English.

Q:           Briefly outline your study and career path since leaving school.

I studied for a Bachelor of Education, specialising in early childhood. During my studies, at the age of 18 I had my first job as a Food and Beverage Attendant at SKYCITY. After a year I relocated to CityLife Auckland, where I am still employed. I have held five different positions at CityLife Auckland over the course of five years. These included Food and Beverage Attendant, Food and Beverage Supervisor, Receptionist, Senior Receptionist and, most recently, the role of a Duty Manager.

Q:           Has your pay increased as your career has progressed?

With every promotion and role change you see increase in your pay. Usually you have a yearly appraisal of your performance and if all goes well, you receive a pay raise.

Q:           What are the highlights of your career to date?

Winning the AICR New Zealand Competition! Getting to represent New Zealand on an international level in Paris and being awarded third runner up in the world.

Q:           What are your main responsibilities in your current role?

Managing the daily functions of the hotel to ensure a smooth shift. As Duty Manager, I am the first point of contact for all departments, so I need to be good at problem solving! I need to maintain a strong and motivated team, to achieve a high level of performance from all departments, leading to customer satisfaction.

I also ensure an efficient check-in and check-out process, and act as the first point of contact for guest, welcoming and farewelling them.

Q:           What do you enjoy about it and what are the main challenges?

There are many challenges. One of the common challenges in a hotel is dealing with guest requests and conflicts as each guest has individual preferences. I am constantly juggling with specific wants and needs. Another challenge is being security conscious. My role is to keep our guests and staff safe, and there are many stories I can tell!

I thrive upon interaction and love hearing inspiring stories from my guests and colleagues. I use the stories to inspire me in my own life, and now feel very grateful that I am building on my own story to share.

Q:           What are your career ambitions?

I definitely see myself in the hospitality and tourism industry. My goal is to keep exceeding my personal best and take every opportunity with open arms. It is a huge industry with various positions, so my options are endless.

Q:           Would you recommend a career in tourism? Why?

Yes! It is a worldwide industry, with endless options. There is opportunity to travel and move within the industry, so you can never get bored. Most people dream about travelling, and tourism will continue to grow. 

Q:           What attracted you to tourism?

It suited my lifestyle. As a young adult I felt the need to explore, get outside of my comfort zone and even party (a little). Working in hospitality and tourism has its own culture and lifestyle which I enjoyed. I have met lifelong friends and I thoroughly enjoy working in a luxury hotel, looking and performing at a professional and luxurious level.

Q:           What advice would you give to someone considering a career in tourism?

This is a huge industry, so explore your options as there is an opportunity for every personality type. Learn and listen to people who inspire you within the industry. Secondly, enhance what you already know and your background, to make your own style of performance. All your experience is, and will be appreciated in tourism. For example, I might not know the best internet café or the rules of netball, BUT if a guest asks me about restaurants I can offer them an extensive list to suit their tastes. This is one of my strengths and I work to enhance this at every opportunity.