Bristol Palace: the Life of a Deputy Manager
Thu, 04/28/2022 - 10:00
Fiorenza Peyrot, Sales Manager and Deputy Manager Hotel Bristol Palace
Here Fiorenza Peyrot, the hotel’s deputy manager, tells us about the Bristol Palace from her point of view: commitment, teamwork, the changes she has seen down the years, memories and anecdotes.
Do you still remember your first day as deputy manager? In what way has this professional experience been different from previous ones?
I began on May 15 2008 to be precise. I was sales manager at first, then became deputy manager. I arrived with distinctive work experience under my belt. After four years studying oriental languages at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, I changed specialisation and graduated in foreign language and literature, learning French and adding it to English, which I knew already, with a view to doing research and lecturing. I then decided to give stability to my career and, at the same time, develop other passions of mine. So I began working in the marketing and hospitality sector. For five years I worked at one of the first boutique hotels in Genoa. I enjoyed it but I also wanted to see how a larger hotel worked. I sent out a few CVs and I had a series of interviews to the Bristol Palace with the present manager, as it happened in a room that is now my office. I was able to exploit the knowledge I had picked up at the boutique hotel and learn more. I loved combining the two different experiences. In the last few years many things have changed, mainly as a result of the restructuring work carried out by Duetorrihotels, who took over in 2012. They invested in the hotel, renovating the exterior and the interiors, communal spaces, furniture, bedrooms and meeting rooms. They enlarged services and improved catering facilities with the opening of the Ristorante Giotto. What has stayed the same is the enthusiasm with which I come to work every day.
What is a typical day in the life of the deputy manager?
It doesn’t exist is the simple answer. Some days I devote more to writing and answering emails and keeping contacts, overseeing conference bookings, contracts and accounting, replying to online reviews, and liaising with regular clients, all jobs I can do in the office, in front of the computer screen. Other days I may be on the move, taking part in trade shows, workshops and meetings, whether on the other side of the world or in Genoa, where I often have appointments with clients. Sometimes I accompany travel agents round the hotel, coordinating lunches and dinners, showing them the dining room and agreeing on menus. I also take care of the sales side, communicating promotions, devising packages and managing revenue, all of which have replaced “old-fashioned” price lists for good. Nowadays we set rates according to season, room occupation, the presence of fairs and conferences, the period of the year, the competition and other factors. Another part of my job is organisation and service orders to the hotel’s various different departments. Plus, in addition to internal communication, there’s also the matter of communication to the outside world. My role is very flexible.
How does your team interface with the hotel’s other teams? What are the challenges involved in working as a team?
Communication is vital when coordinating the various teams and people who work different hours in the course of the day. In addition to actual meetings, it’s also necessary to transmit instructions and information by email and the WhatsApp group, which is very useful because it works in real time. We meet periodically: I see department heads regularly, from the head porter to the business manager, from the maître d’ to the head of reception, as well, of course, as the hotel manager.
Bristol Palace often welcomes high-profile guests, sometimes during the cultural events organised in the city. Are there any anecdotes you’d like to tell us about them?
I have an image in my mind. One day last year I left my office on the first floor slightly lost in thought and bumped into a large bunch of ballerinas, all very young, all in leotards and tutus. They were in Genoa for a dance event. They assembled on the elliptical staircase that is the centrepiece of the hotel to form a spiral. They then posed for a photograph in the classical ballet position with one foot raised vertically. It was a fantastic, surreal moment. On another occasion I saw an enchanting young lady wearing an evening dress at the reception at two o’clock in the afternoon. She was starring in a commercial they were filming in the hotel. Lastly, during the pandemic – the second lockdown, to be precise – they were filming a popular historical drama series at the Palazzi dei Rolli, using the Bristol as a base. I was struck by the amount of work this kind of shooting involves behind the scenes. What with last-minute changes, moves from one place to another, and meeting rooms converted into make-up rooms, they were all so incredibly busy. It was fascinating to watch.
The Bristol Palace has an important and distinctive history: how do you convey this type of characteristic to guests?
Our clientele is mostly Italian, though I’ve seen the number of foreigners grow in the last fifteen years. They consist mostly of French people, for reasons of proximity, Americans, other Europeans and a lower percentage of Asian tourists. They all consider the Bristol Palace as a reference point in Genoa: thanks to its position – a stone’s throw from Piazza De Ferrari and the city’s tourist sites, such as the Porto Antico and the Aquarium – and the beauty of its art nouveau building with its high ceilings, very large rooms and stylish furniture and furnishings. It’s a place for receptions. When I take part on fairs, I try to tell people about these characteristics, but it’s much easier to convey them to those who come and admire the palazzo for themselves. All this beauty expresses emotions and emanates a sense of history and hospitality. Even the photographs we use for communication speak for themselves in a certain sense. We guide the experience by highlighting what is already here and letting the most interesting details emerge by themselves.
What are the most important lessons you have learned at the Bristol?
You never stop learning. That’s the first lesson. Meaning constant updates throughout the hotel, even in the areas that aren’t part of my brief. For example, knowing how to manage check-ins and check-outs – if it was necessary, even I could take care of them – allows me to get to know the difficulties and strengths of reception. Having a concrete perspective and being acquainted with the everyday work of my colleagues helps me to improve the guest’s experience. We are a close-knit team, so we know how to adapt to the most unexpected requests. Everything changes rapidly, and this is the second important lesson to learn: namely guests’ trends, fashions, habits, desires and needs. Yet this is what makes us stand out as a hotel, it’s our added value. This willingness to change enables us to look after the people who come to stay at our house, pampering them and offering them an experience that couldn’t be repeated elsewhere.