I hope this behind the scenes account provides some insight into the work that goes into pulling off a large-scale and high-quality event. My main take away from the experience was a new-found respect for the people who work in 5-star level hospitality, their level of professionality and their dedication towards achieving the best possible level of customer service. Overall, my shift on Monday was long and busy, but it ended up being a great day for my step counter!
1:00pm- Check in and set up
I enter the hotel, not through the front door, but through a service door hidden down a side street. It feels very James Bond. Then down some stairs, through security, and I grab my suave black uniform coat. In the changing room I change into black tights, simple low black heels, and a knee length shirt. The hair goes up into a simple black bun and with the coat I am officially ready to be seen by guests.
I navigate a maze of service corridors and surface in the banquet room where a stage and about 30 round tables have been fully set up with candle sticks, crystal wine glasses, and silver settings. About 20 other event staff are there, with all of us in uniform it all starts to feel very official and fancy. The floor manager breaks us into groups and has us polishing racks glasses for the bars and finishing setting up for the event.
The manager briefs us about what the event is, gives us all assignments for each part of the event: reception, dinner, and after dinner drinks. My job is to clear classes during the reception, serve drinks to my two tables during dinner, clear the ballroom after dinner and help set up for an event the following morning. After we’re assigned our jobs we’re sent on a dinner break and we all scurry back downstairs to make the most of it before guests arrive.
6:00pm- The event begins!
After chowing down on some chicken and potatoes we all head up to the ballroom and are sent forth in our tasks for the reception. All the staff position themselves in the reception room and there is a definite buzz of energy and anticipation. The doors are opened, and the first guests arrive in their swanky clothes. Every one of them is met with a smile and offered a drink.
7:15pm- Dinner is served
It’s time to guide the guests into the ballroom and to their seats so dinner can be served. The guests at my tables are friendly, excited and are having a great time. I deliver and pour the wines they’ve ordered and make sure everyone has a full drink. As I stand out of the way in the kitchen, hundreds of identical delicious looking plates are expertly and quickly delivered to the guests by a legion of plate waiters.
9:30pm- Main event time
Before I know it, dessert is served, and coffees and teas are handed out. Then the lights are dimmed, and the event begins! My job is to make sure that the glasses on my table are never empty and I keep a vigilant eye on them as the event progresses.
11:30pm- Clean up
All the speeches are done, and the guests are invited to move into the next room. This is our cue to start clearing the tables of everything. Systematically we strip the tables of napkins, cups, glasses, plates, cutlery, and decorations while the happy guests migrate into the next room to enjoy some more drinks.
1:00am- Set up
My step counter reset itself at midnight and I start Tuesday but preparing everything for a breakfast event later in the day. I find myself with a small group of staff in a secluded service area polishing our way through stacks of china and glasses and exchanging stories about the night that are periodically interrupted by yawns.
6, 371 steps
The ballroom and two other rooms have been completely reset by the staff for new events later in the day and the managers gather us all together and thank us for our hard work before sending us all home for the night.
Total step count for the shift: 33,859. It’s a personal best.
The amount of work to pull off any event for 400 people is immense and impressive but the standards in a five-star hotel requires that extra push. Everyone from the light and audio teams, chefs, food waiters, wine waiters, dishwashers, and managers have an important role to play and are integral in the execution of an event. Working at a five-star hotel is not easy but time flies and the reward is a great pay check at the end of the week plus being able to tell friends about the celebrities you got to see!
Lema Andrews-Hirano - Recruitment Resourcer
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