Pia, what makes working at Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden unique for you?
It was already clear to me as a child: “This is exactly what I want to do.” The location of the hotel is outstanding to me. This place between the mountains has always fascinated me. My family has been going on holiday in Berchtesgaden for as long as I can remember. The mountains magically attracted me; it’s almost like an addiction. In addition, there is nothing more beautiful than a winter landscape. It always reminds me of fairy tales.
As a lateral entrant into a reception role, I am grateful to have been given this opportunity. The contact with many different guests makes every day exciting, with creativity and the art of improvisation an absolute MUST at the front office. But sometimes you also need strong nerves, because it can get pretty stressful. So it’s great that our front office team are also close friends privately. The cohesion and the warmth are just special. I particularly appreciate the alpine lifestyle and consider it an absolute privilege to be able to go up the mountain or onto the ski slope again after work, without having to travel a long distance.
On top of that, working in a dirndl is the best thing for me. It’s a great uniform that I feel really comfortable in. It just suits me and my attitude towards the alpine lifestyle.
Tell us a little bit about your personal best moments.
I remember two moments in particular. One experience was super sweet and the other made me blush slightly.
One night, a desperate mum called me. It was very late. She told me that she had been on holiday with her family at our hotel some time ago. During the stay, we gave her little son a cuddly toy called “Murmi”. The boy chose Murmi as his favourite cuddly toy, which affected it greatly. The boy’s mother was afraid that Murmi would not survive much longer. To prevent the catastrophe, she asked me if it would be possible to purchase a replacement. The same evening, the package left the hotel by express mail. A few days later, I received a photo of the little boy holding the stuffed animal. I thought it was super cute and was really happy that I could make a little boy happy.
Today, my team are still smiling about another occasion. A guest came to reception. He wanted to go hiking. It was lightly raining outside that day. While I was recommending a few hiking trails to him, I noticed that he was holding something in his hand. To me, it looked like plastic. I wanted to ask him if I could dispose of the item for him, but since he held to it firmly and gave no hints, I decided not to ask again. It turned out to be a rain hat. This hat was even from a famous designer brand and unique in Germany. The hat was probably very expensive. I told the story to my team afterwards. We still smile about this situation. Sometimes extended knowledge of fashion is clearly an advantage. 😉
How do you find communication and cooperation in the team?
It’s a special way of working together here. Everyone helps each other when it is necessary. With us, it doesn’t matter what position you have, especially in stressful situations. Only one thing counts: everything for the guests. And I think that’s really great.
Good communication is very important in all areas. The best way to explain it is with an example. Our guests come from all over the world. Sometimes there are language barriers when the guest speaks a rare form of German or English. Most of the time, we are lucky that one of our colleagues speaks the needed language. So it can happen that someone from the housekeeping or the kitchen team helps with the translation at reception.
How did you get into the “AICR Receptionist of the Year” competition?
The tip that you can apply for this competition came from my hotel. It sounded interesting, and with the competition, I wanted to prove that the job of front office agent was something very special. I was often laughed at when I talked about working in the front office. A lot of people think we’re just checking guests in and out all day long. But that’s not the case at all. We are real hosts and advisers and also wish-fulfillers in a way. I made it my mission to change the negative image. I also want to get other people interested in the job. Giving people a different perspective of the hotel industry is important to me. Of course, you have to work in shifts, which sometimes means early, middle or late shifts, but this way, you can also plan your free time flexibly and go hiking or skiing before the shift.
My job is a great job that I love very much, and I wouldn’t want to miss all the extraordinary and beautiful moments with our guests and colleagues. We are always happy to have new colleagues in the team who, like us, have a passion for the luxury hotel industry.
I still can’t believe it, and I am very happy to have won the Amicale Internationale des Sous Directeurs et Chefs de Réception des Grand Hôtels (AICR) competition. First, I won the title of “Receptionist of the Year” in Germany, which qualified me for the international competition. As part of a four-day event in Baden-Baden, I was then voted “World’s Best Receptionist” and thus brought the coveted AICR title back to Germany for the first time in 26 years. I was able to assert myself against 29 other state winners and great colleagues from all over the world. These awards make me and my colleagues very proud. I look forward to being part of the Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden team every day, and I won’t be leaving anytime soon.