For the past 18 years, the AICR (or Amicale Internationale des Sous Directeurs et Chefs de Réception des Grand Hôtels) has presented its Receptionist of the Year award to a hotel receptionist. The award, the David Campbell trophy, is named for a former Chef de Reception at the Paris Ritz hotel known for his dedication and service to the industry. The Trophy is sponsored by the Paris section of AICR. Launched in 1995, the competition was designed to reward and encourage young receptionists to advance their career goals, as well as to be used as a training tool for the younger generation coming up in hospitality management.
How do receptionists compete?
The competition begins with a paid AICR member from each country submitting an application on behalf of one receptionist, determined by a national competition; it cannot be a chef de reception or other higher position in a hotel. The candidate must be available for the full weekend of the competition, and for the full competition weekend the following year if he or she wins. The receptionist must be sponsored by his or her hotel’s front office manager, who signs the application and includes the receptionist’s CV.
What to expect at the competition
This year’s International Receptionist of the Year competition will be held in Paris, France, in February of 2017. The judges for the competition include the following:
- The previous year’s Receptionist of the Year Competition winner (Paula McMinn of the Savoy in London);
- One hotel General Manager;
- One International President;
- One member of the media or the tourism industry; and
- One academic or training professional.
The scoring begins with a general question about the contestant, followed by four questions of a technical nature, covering hotel financial information or other details about the running of the hotel. The main area on which contestants are evaluated, though, comes in a role play. The receptionist receives in advance a scenario that describes an imaginary hotel at which he or she will be working, and must perform his or her duties there for a 15-minute shift.
This is when the Receptionist of the Year Competition kicks into gear for the contestants. The scenario is designed to test their ability to perform under pressure with grace and skill. During the role-play, each candidate is judged on five factors:
- The way they carry and conduct themselves during the scenario, including body language and confidence on display;
- The way they interpret the scenario with which they are presented;
- Their skill in negotiation and sales during the scenario;
- The skills they demonstrate in solving the problems that arise; and
- Their demonstrated guest relations and follow up with the customer.
Afterwards, each Receptionist of the Year Competition candidate gets a chance to discuss the scenario with the judges. The actors in the role play also give feedback, so the judges get to hear the perspective of the “customers” as well. The candidates explain their perspectives, and why they did what they did. This is the final area in which the judges evaluate each candidate, both on performance and overall suitability to become the next Receptionist of the Year.
The results are announced at a Gala Dinner after the competition. The winner receives adulation and publicity for his or her hotel, but the real value for every candidate comes in the opportunity to spend time with and learn from some of the best hotel receptionists around the world.
Want to know more? Check the AICR International website for your local section: www.aicr-int.com