This week we get to know Craig Syphers, GM PARKROYAL, Melbourne Airport.
1. How long have you been in the industry, what and where was your first job?
Around three decades now, which makes me sound older than I feel. I was a glassie in a local pub at Tannum Sands in central Queensland when still at school! That led to a career in hospitality initially via an apprentice chef role with a French restaurant in Gladstone. Pubs and food, little wonder I started down the F&B line, before broadening into the general managerial sphere over 10 years ago.
2. What’s your most amazing travel experience (one of them anyway)!
Driving in a convertible Pontiac from LA to San Francisco, up that amazing Pacific Coast highway through Santa Monica to Santa Barbara; stopping at the weird Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, just off the highway; having to stop for the sealions sunning themselves on the bitumen near Hearst Castle; a foggy night in a bougainvillea-covered cottage at Carmel when Clint Eastwood was Mayor; then on to San Fran and the Castro and the Golden Gate bridge. All that in three days, pretty amazing.
3. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever done?
Well, some are best left unsaid, some too sad, but anyone who’s worked in a hotel will have had to simply grin and bear it or change careers, so …. Probably writing a letter to a guest who complained that his 4WD would not fit under our hotel car park and he wouldn’t stay again unless we addressed it. He’d demanded an explanation from our sales and marketing team. We’d all wanted to write advising we were seeking council approval to raise our 15-storey hotel … but we kept it diplomatic as always.
4. First ever country you travelled to? What was your experience like?
The USA, Hawaii to be exact. It was quite amazing. It was when I was still involved with pubs and was an incentive trip in my late teens. You can just imagine, publicans on an incentive trip. Let’s just say much fun was had. I must go back to Hawaii one day and see what I can’t remember!
5. Wishlist of places yet to visit?
Italy. Spain. South America. Not necessarily in that order.
6. Who was your biggest mentor/influence growing up?
It’s a collective answer. My social circle. Those who kept me honest and made me laugh. Several are friends to this day.
7. How has working in travel changed you?
It’s made travelling second nature, but it has also taught me value. I don’t mind paying more if the value proposition is right. Equally, the cheapest experiences can be the best, the simple things, a sunset or a smile.
8. What’s your biggest life achievement to date?
I’d like to think it’s yet to happen. I have loved my life so far, but I reckon there’ll be even more to love.
9. What’s one in-flight travel tip?
Use a reliable online tool to check best and worst seats.
10. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the travel industry?
Always say thank you to colleagues who help you lift the load and to guests who are a delight to deal with. Always try to encourage colleagues who should be doing more to lift the load and guests who are not so easy to deal with.
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