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In the Spotlight... Emily Gilson-Jones!

As you know, the Receptionist of the Year competition has kicked off with the opening of the applications. To inspire the upcoming talent in our industry, we have interviewed last years participants and got them to tell us how they experienced this exciting time of the year. Next to go is Emily Gilson-Jones, working at the Pan Pacific London.

Tell us a bit about you and your career to date:

Fresh out of secondary school, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career but I knew that I did not want to stay at sixth form. A lot of my teachers tried to pressure me to get my A-levels done and go to university. I came across Westminster Kingsway College in Victoria, London, which was a specialist college for Hospitality & Catering. The two years at Westminster Kingsway College flew by and I then started my luxury 5-star hotel journey at The Connaught in Mayfair, London as a Private Events Waitress. After spending approximately, a year in Mayfair, I moved to the other side of the city to Pan Pacific London to begin my Front of House Reception journey. From having no Reception experience when I began at Pan Pacific, I then achieved first runner up in the 2022 AICR Receptionist of The Year competition and also received a promotion from Front Desk Agent to Front Desk supervisor in less than a year!

What were your first thoughts when you found out you’d achieved first runner up?

I was in shock. With them only announcing the top 3 at the final, I was not really listening to them announcing the names, I was just trying to absorb the fact that I was in Hotel Café Royal, surrounded by so many inspirational Front of House experts and leaders. Then when my name was announced both my managers looked at me and my body froze. I still cannot believe it to this day that I came second in the whole of the UK!

To achieve such a momentous professional award is, of course, down to your efforts to get here, but you would have had to have been nominated. Would you like to send a message to your nominator?

Thank you, Thank you and Thank You. You both saw the potential and confidence in me that I had never seen before. You pushed me out of my comfort zone because you believed in me, which no one has ever done for me before in the workplace. You will both be unforgettable, in my career journey and you have given me the self-confidence, that the work I do is actually good and you remind me to never give up.

What made you join the AICR?

The networking and the opportunities. AICR is a family of welcoming and warm hospitality professionals.... who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? The networking events that AICR hold are great, as each time you meet someone new and you get inspired from their hospitality experience and background.

Now you have achieved this prestigious professional recognition, what’s next?

Keep working hard and taking every day as it comes! In Hospitality especially, you can never know what is round the corner. I am continuing to grow and develop my leadership skills as a Front Desk Supervisor and then we will see what opportunities will arise next. I am definitely not ready to escape the five-star luxury hotel environment yet though!

Do you have any advice for people considering entering the competition this year?

Just be yourself. Every receptionist knows how to do a check in and a check out but what makes yours special and memorable? What is it that makes you stand out from the others and why do guests remember your name? Also start believing in yourself, it wasn’t until after the competition I did, but I wish I believed in myself a lot sooner. Last but not least, enjoy the experience of the competition!

What would you say to Manager’s who are considering putting their own team members forward for the first time?

Choose a Front Desk Agent which will enjoy the experience of AICR and the Receptionist of the Year competition. Please don’t feel obliged to enter the most experienced receptionist or the receptionist who has worked in the property the longest – choose the one that has potential and simply loves their job. I thought my managers were crazy when they nominated me after just being on the Front Desk for 3-4 months, but look at my experience!

Tell us three things about yourself that we don’t know!

When I was 14 years old, I started working in my family business and it was my grandparents that helped me gain the fun, quirky but professional customer service skills that I still use today.

I am absolutely useless at playing crazy golf but I still try to beat my friends and family when we go to play!

I love music concerts so I make it a goal to go to at least one per year. I have to say that the best concert I have been to was Ed Sheeran at Wembley Stadium, not only because of the live music but just the atmosphere.

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