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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW | Luciano Scelza; Executive Assistant Manager/Deputy GM at Rotana

Luciano Scelza 

Executive Assistant Manager/Deputy GM 

at Rotana

Tell us about your journey. How did it all start? 
I love and have a passion for hospitality and started at a very young age, following the steps of my beloved father who had an history in the hospitality field, related also to some international groups such as Club Mediteranee. It took me a lot of sacrifices to reach where I am now, since I started from the very bottom of the hierarchy: pot washer, busboy, commis are few positions that I am proud to say to have performed. It was the right mix of experiences and education that brought me where I am now; not coming from a reach family, had to pay my education by myself and this was possible while working and attending classes.

I am proud of what my professional life has given to me, and the possibilities offered, in any circumstances!

What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry? 
Same as in any industries, I believe that perseverance and commitment at the end pay the efforts. What is unique in the hotel industry and I believe at the base of succeeding in the field is a pure passion and love for service and people. So often today we tend to forget what is the core scope of this industry: pure service, involvement with people, passion to entertain and put someone else needs before yours. I always mention when hiring new associates that if they don't love people, they should not work in the hospitality field.

What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring? 
In an ocean full of CVs and candidates, when shortlisting I search for the ones showing consistency in their choice, i.e. if they consistently worked in service, how many years at the same position, etc... relevancy on the job sought and experience in the position. Then when interviewing I focus on their attitude and willingness to succeed and take the position, trying to avoid job-hoppers, stressing on carrying on a behavioural interview, since I do believe that past experiences/behaviours are expression of future behaviours.

What according to you can trainees do while they are training at hotels to make it a win-win for them & the hotel/unit? 
I have a recent experience in this regard, where a trainee was spending a 6 month period in my hotel within the Marketing department and succeeded to get a job offer at the end of his training. Basically seeking for any single opportunity to learn, being extremely curious and not ashamed to ask, those are only few tips I could give to any trainee looking for a good opportunity in the hotel's world. I'd like to also highlight the fact that employers need to be able to offer a solid mix of benefits and career's perspective to the trainees; at the end it is a competitive world, and trainees are also looking for their best options, and if we want to hire the best, we need to be the best in taking care of our people!

Tell us a little about your average day 
My day at work usually starts at 7.30 AM where firstly I walk into the All Day Dining Restaurant to see the team and guests for breakfast, while going to the office to print my reports, go through my agenda of the day and get organised. Right after I pass by any operational departments to greet the team and see how the day has started, moving to the Conference and Banqueting Areas, checking the activities there.

This is followed by the Hotel Morning briefing where I meet all departments and go through the activities of the day, and the handover from the Night manager and the Duty Manager from the day before. Before lunch time, depending on the agenda, I meet regular guests and VIPs when checking in, and walk trough the property front and back. Lunch is often at the staff canteen with the team, unless I have a guest/supply/team member to entertain in any of the restaurant. The afternoon is spent between regular meetings, operational needs and customers/owners meeting - in a nut shell my day is 80% on the floor with team and guests, and 20% in the office.

My day usually ends at around 8PM, unless an important event or activity is to attend after 8PM. 

How do keep abreast of all that is happening in hospitality? 
I am lucky to currently work in an area where innovation in the field is very well represented. Benchmarking others and learning from whoever does it better, is what I constantly do. At the same time I seek opportunities to attend workshops and expos whenever is possible, following magazines, specialised websites that are now available through the internet.
I regularly meet other General Managers/Hotel Managers from competitors and not, to keep ourselves updated and informed.

Two reasons why this industry is awesome! 
The people: opportunity to meet people of any culture, background, level of experiences - this gives you the chance to constantly learn, never being bored, but always eager to explore and move forward! The endurance: hospitality has a continuing existence, and innovates itself with time and technology. Whatever happens, there will always be a lodging and catering need - consequentially the industry is destined to continue and excel.

Two things you would like to change about the industry. 
The legacy that some hotels/groups still have with the old-school of hierarchy, not adapting with the new leadership methods. I see this is almost rare now, but still existing The so often reputation from the world, that hospitality jobs are under paid and too sacrificing. Please understand that no other career can give you the possibility to travel, learn and explore the world while working in very clean and safe environments and being paid according to the experience. It all debatable, but I believe Hospitality is fairly paid and gives the right opportunities to the right people.