New Faces at the Marco Polo

FIONA PATRICIA S. ESCANDOR goes up the hill and meets the newest additions to Cebu’s hospitality industry.

As Franz Completo simply explained, the work of a hotel’s front office is basically all about “pleasing the guests.” The front office is the face, the voice, the emissary of the hotel. They also serve as the troubleshooters-- untangling distressed guests from any predicament, ensuring that they won’t step out with a baggage of bad experience. Sounds hard? Not for this duo.

The new faces of Marco Polo Hotel, Front Office Manager Victor Alcantara and Asst. Front Office Manager Franz Completo, seem to have it all under control. Their seasoned skills in handling their job can be attributed to years of experience in prestigious hotels both here and abroad. Victor has been a hotelier for 23 years, eight of which spent in Canada; while Franz had worked for three years in a hotel in Singapore.

u201cI think it’s in my blood,” Victor shared. “My mom worked with a hotel, with Hyatt Regency Manila. She used to bring me to the PABX department and I would play around,” he recalled. Amusedly, he added, “I never had a chance to go to another industry.” In his college years at the Jose Rizal University, he worked as a bellman in the esteemed landmark, Manila Hotel. Victor had also worked in The Coast Hotels and Resorts in Canada, and in Somerset Millenium and Somerset Olympia.

As for Franz, his older sister had been the Guest Services Manager of the former Cebu Plaza Hotel itself, and it was her who served as his inspiration to join the hospitality industry. A true blue Cebuano, Franz finished his secondary education at the Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu, and attained a degree in Business Management from the University of San Carlos. He had been with Marriott Hotel prior to joining Marco Polo.

Today, Victor and Franz work together in raising the abar higher for Marco Polo’s guest relations services. “I believe in trying to become a good example to my staff,” Victor firmly said, “Being on time, speaking with guests if there are concerns. I also believe in providing tools for success. We sit down; we talk about our strategies and programs.”

u201cWe try to support each other,” Franz put in, “I think that’s very important so our team can grow.”

Both said that the key difference between the hotel industry in the Philippines and abroad is generally the pace. Franz cited that in Singapore “it is more fast-paced. It’s busy everyday. Heavy check-in, heavy check-out.”

u201cHere in Cebu, it’s a little bit relaxing,” Victor pointed out, “We have more time to plan and implement.” That, however, doesn’t spare them from the long hours brought about with the nature of the job. When asked if they stay in the hotel 24/7, Victor instantly replied, “Almost.”

u201cIf you love what you’re doing, it will seem like you’re not working at all,” Franz said. Then Victor inserted, “If it’s not for you, definitely you would not last.”

u201cYou need to be guest oriented,” Victor advised. “Some people find it hard to smile, while for others it comes naturally.” Filipinos, he positively remarked, are more of the latter—“less problematic, have good work ethics, and are very guest-oriented.”

Dealing with an international clientele, these two have also been trained in foreign languages. Victor speaks Nihongo and Arabic, whereas Franz speaks “a little bit of Chinese and Malay.”

When they’re not busy as hoteliers, Victor and Franz spend their time being family guys. Victor has three kids; while Franz has two, the youngest barely a year old.

Franz’s wife, Toni Completo, is also with the hospitality industry, working with a reputable hotel in Cebu.

u201cI believe in fairness, in being honest to people that I’ve worked with and to the guests,” Victor said. Franz then continued, “Cherish every moment with your work, with your family. Always put your feet on the ground and remember where your roots came from. Have faith and trust in God.” These are among the words that they live by as they go about their daily responsibilities.

It’s inspiring to note that these two manage to remain collected amidst this tough and heavily competitive industry. With pleasant smiles, Victor and Franz readily posed for the camera for a shot, shortly before resuming their challenging posts of managing Marco Polo’s Front Office. Indeed, they were built for this profession.

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