Q&A with the New Front of House Director, Hilton London Metropole, Denny Lane

Denny Lane

,Denny Lane, Front of House Director, Hilton London Metropole

How long have you been in your role?

I was appointed as Front of House Director at the Hilton London Metropole located in September this year.

What is your background?

I joined the Hilton family back in 2000. I moved to London to start a new job as Assistant Front of House Manager at the Hilton London Islington, where I was able to build on my skills from working in the Copthorne hotel, in my home town in the Midlands in Dudley, as Assistant Front of House Manager.

For the past ten years I have been a core member of staff at Hilton Tower Bridge, and I was a part of the initial opening team in 2006. I’ve held various roles during my tenure: from Front of House Manager, Front of House Learning and Development Manager for London, Rooms Division Manager, and most recently I was Director of Operations. During my role as Front of House Learning and Development Manager for London Hilton hotels, I developed a fast-track programme which developed reception agents to a supervisory level within a six month period. Prior to my time at Hilton Tower Bridge, I was lucky enough to work for Amanda Scott, former General Manager for Hilton and a powerhouse in the industry, during the acquisition and rebranding of the Waldorf Hilton, returning it to a luxury hotel.

One of the highlights of my career recently was being seconded to the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, a five-star hotel which was recently opened. I was in charge of implementing best practice, and supporting the Front of House department during their crucial post-opening period.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?

I originally started working in hotels at the age of 18 as a Comis chef with Novotel to complete an NVQ. After one year, having been exposed to Front of House roles I decided that I really wanted to work in that area. I was turned down for a job as a receptionist when I was 19, and consequently, I immediately left my job at Novotel to pursue my dream in working in Front of House. I went on to work at Jarvis hotels, on their reception, and I have never looked back.

What does your role involve?

With 1,059 rooms, I will enjoy the challenges that I will face in my new role as Director of Front of House. I am looking to managing all aspects of the Front of House operations within the hotel, from the arrival of guests to their departure, including managing our Executive Lounge offer, Guest Relations, Concierge, Doorman, Hall porters, Group Reception and not forgetting the individual check-in desk. I am a people person, and working in Front of House gives me the exposure and interaction with the guests that I love. I also feel that the Hilton London Metropole offers a great scope for learning and furthering my personal skills and development.

What do you see as the best parts of your position?

What I love most about my role is making a difference to each and every guest and team member – that may sound obvious in the world of hospitality, but it’s something that I am truly committed to. I welcome the opportunity to develop my team, helping them to develop and explore their career potentials whilst serving our guests to the highest possible service levels. Skill development is something that is very important to Hilton Worldwide, and I encourage it on every level. We also have an apprenticeship scheme and encourage young people to work at the hotel to ensure that we find the best new talent.

And your biggest challenges?

I find the biggest challenge is ensuring that everything is executed on time so that the guest receives the smoothest experience whilst staying at the hotel. In such a large property there are lots of demands to satisfy for a varied clientele. We aim to meet the needs to every sort of guest including tourists, business travellers, honeymooners and large exhibition delegates.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I think one of the most satisfying aspects of my career, beyond the achievements I’ve personally made, is identifying and supporting talent and offering the tools and guidance in order to help people develop their confidence and reach their full potential. My previous team members have gained the skills to move into other major hotels including The Dorchester, London Hilton Park Lane, the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah and the Conrinthia.

Can you talk me through a typical day for you?

I think it’s difficult to define an average day in the hotel as no two days are the same. This can vary from 800 rooms departing by 9am with 750 rooms arriving shortly after, to checking in the delegates for a large conference. The Hilton London Metropole has conferencing facilities for 5,000 guests, which gives you an idea of the scale of service. And of course, you want everyone to have that sense of arrival too - that’s the hallmark of the Hilton brand. Flexibility and versatility in my job are essential, as is patience and a big smile - oh and comfortable shoes.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?

If you want hard work and long hours, I’ll tell you where to sign, but the rewards are amazing. You get to work with incredible people and meet fascinating guests; you’ll always be part of one massive family. It’s one of the few jobs that can literally take you round the world, sometimes without even leaving the front desk. It’s a buzz and a challenge and I love it.

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