Focus on excellence – An interview with Michal Zitek
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Focus on excellence – An interview with Michal Zitek

Michal Zitek is originally from Australia. He is now Area General Manager for Angsana Laguna Phuket, one of the most renowned resorts on the island. Here’s how he got to his position and what guided him.

What motivated you to go into the hotel industry?
My original motivation to join the hotel industry actually came from when I was at high school. I had a part-time job working in events and catering and delivering different activities and experiences for guests. When I finished high school, I had the opportunity to do some university studies or join hotel school. I was enjoying my part-time job at the time so it’s almost like the hotel industry found me. The hotel school seemed more interesting because of the experiences and opportunities that it created.

How is Angsana different?
The sun is shining, the birds are singing and what the better place to be than in the beautiful gardens of Angsana Laguna Phuket? One of the major differences about Angsana is the property and the grounds that we have – more than 60 acres. The landscape is beautiful. The swimming pool is the longest in Phuket at 323 metres. It gives guests the opportunity to explore the resort by using the swimming pool as a river. The grounds allow us to apply our resort to the different needs of guests. The fact that we have these facilities as a blank canvas allow us to customize our resort, whether it be for a theme dinner, a destination wedding or even a pop-up food store. It’s quite often that we hold international weddings and meetings. We have versatility and the space as well as a creative team to adapt in to meet the needs of our guests.

Did you work on your degree while working in the hotel industry?
Hotel industry discovered me when I was still in high school. I was already enjoying doing a part time job while I completing my high school education as Food and Beverage Attendant and it seemed that hospitality was something that chose me more than I chose it. So it was a parallel development that I could be in hotel school in Sydney at the same time that I was working. I could learn and develop my skills at the same time.

It is not an easy job you are doing, how do you keep yourself motivated?
In the hospitality industry, I don’t think any profession is an easy job but one thing a lot of people do see and enjoy is the glamour that goes with the industry whether it be the weddings that we are providing or even just a honeymoon couple’s dinner. My motivation comes from the experiences and the memories that we can create for the guests.

What are the most challenging issues you are facing in your current job?
I think like any industry that’s focused on people our challenge is to always meet the expectations of people we are with. It could be our associates; it’s about focusing on their development to have a fully skilled team that’s capable and motivated to meet the expectations of our guests. Our guests are also people and every single guest from any part of the world is coming to Angsana Laguna Phuket with their own individual expectations. So when it comes to challenges in the hospitality industry, I think the biggest challenge is the people. It’s balancing the right level of associates and ensuring that we’re meeting the expectations of our guests.

What is the single best quality your employees can possess?
I think the single best quality of any of our associates of Angsana Laguna Phuket is our friendliness and our Thai hospitality. The fact that we are memorizing so many of our guests’ names, so when you walk through the resort grounds there’s always somebody that is going to ‘wai’, smile, and greet you. We make our guests feel welcome. We represent the best of Thai hospitality and our guests seem to appreciate that and this reflects in how many of our guests come back year after year, some of them for more than 20 years now.

What advice would you offer to those who want to succeed in the hotel industry?
My advice to any individual who chooses to work in the hospitality industry is to be curious and ask questions. You turn up to work. You do your job. That’s great. But you need to ask yourself what else can I do? How can I do my job better? Because if you ask questions, you identify what you don’t know. The more you learn the more chances of success you’ll have as you develop.

My second piece of advice is no matter what you are doing whether you’re a steward, whether you’re a food and beverage attendant, a front office attendant, a gardener, whatever you do make sure you’re doing your best. Because people will recognize that you’re doing your job to the best of your capability. When you have that expectation and when you set the standard of being the best and providing the best, this will be noticed and this will be something that accelerates your career faster than any studies or any program can do because you focus on excellence. You focus on delivering absolutely the best service, the absolute best quality. It’s something that takes you very far in your career.

What attracted you to work in other countries?
When I was in Sydney, the company that I worked with gave me the opportunity to transfer to New Zealand for five years. That experience of living and working overseas gave me example of what life could be like. I got to learn different cultures, different food and different people. Now when I look back that was just the beginning of my interest in exploring different cultures and different countries.

At work, what puts a smile on your face?
In the hospitality industry, the job itself can be quite busy. There’s a lot of hard work to do and a lot of pressure but at the same we have opportunities to have fun together. But one other thing that really puts a big smile on our faces here at Angsana Laguna Phuket is the experiences and memories that we create for our guests. Nothing is more rewarding than receiving that feedback directly from our guests whether it’s by our website forum, direct feedback, or face-to-face verbal feedback from the guests. The thing that makes us smile here is our pride in doing our job well and having appreciation from all of our guests.

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