SINGAPORE - When hotel guest services executive Angelique Careso Sajuela found out that a pair of guests had expressed unhappiness over Covid-19 restrictions, she jumped into action to make their stay at The Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore a memorable one.
The guests had made an online booking last year, but were told that their reservation dates would have to be moved forward due to the hotel being activated as a quarantine facility.
On top of that, when they eventually checked in at the hotel, they were also perplexed by the additional declaration forms needed for safe management measures.
Ms Sajuela, 33, who has worked at the hotel for seven years, guided them through the paperwork and made sure they were not inconvenienced.
On learning that their stay was for a birthday celebration, she arranged for a cake and a bespoke cocktail to be sent to their room afterwards.
On Wednesday, hotel and hospitality staff like Ms Sajuela were given the Excellent Service Award (EXSA) for going the extra mile in their service.
The annual award for the hospitality industry, organised by the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA), was held at the University Cultural Centre at the National University of Singapore and honoured 2,821 winners from 134 companies.
Ms Sajuela was one of two winners of the top accolade, the SHA Outstanding Star Award, beating 59 other nominees.
The other winner was Ms Sri Murni Moonshi Nasiruddin, a senior customer services officer at Safra Jurong.
The 38-year-old, who has worked there for almost 12 years, was nominated for helping a mother who was struggling with her wailing infant and restless toddler.
"I offered to look after the little girl so that her mother could comfort her baby. I could see she was struggling with her stroller and an active toddler," Ms Murni recalled.
She entertained the toddler at the customer service desk while the girl's mother took the baby to the nursing room, and even surprised her with a complimentary soft toy.
"The mother returned about 20min later and was very relieved and grateful that her toddler was happily waiting for her. She thanked me a lot and that made my day," said Ms Murni.
The accelerated digitalisation of the hotel industry during the pandemic has redefined what hospitality service means, noted SHA president Kwee Wei-Lin.
"Learning, unlearning and relearning will be a life-long process as we tap on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics and the internet-of-things to elevate service in an increasingly contactless guest environment," said Ms Kwee, urging hotels to leverage training support to ramp up workers' capabilities.
Echoing her point about how Covid-19 has redefined service in the hospitality landscape, Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union adviser Christopher de Souza said: "Keeping the warmth of hospitality in a high-tech and low-touch environment is definitely not an easy task."
Addressing the award winners, the MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC added: "You have all shown that your genuine service can indeed touch the hearts of your guests despite the circumstances."