Home' Hospitality Business : HB APL 2017 Contents GRADUATE PROFILE:
TEGAN WORTHINGTON - EVENTS, RESORTS & WINE
At 23, Aucklander Tegan
Worthington is one of Queenstown
Resort College’s shining lights,
promoted to the city’s Hotel St
Moritz as assistant manager after
less than a year on the job.
Tegan was heading into her
second year of a BA in events
management and advertising
at AUT and hesitant about
that pathway, when she heard
about QRC. “I’d been coming to
Queenstown since I was 10 on
holidays with my family. My dad said, ‘you’re a people person, you
should try that out’,” says Tegan. “I rang up and there was one slot
left for the July (2013) hospitality intake and I was like, ‘yep, done!’.
It was an easy choice. She signed up for electives in events, resorts
and wine, and absolutely loved the lifestyle, living at the college’s hall
of residence for her first six months. “I arrived in Queenstown not
knowing a soul. By that night I had a whole new group of friends and
I’m still flatting with four of them,” says Tegan. “In Auckland we’d all
be heads down walking to class, but everyone is so open and friendly
down here. If someone was going snowboarding they’d invite you along
and take a carload, so we’d be up at The Remarkables every weekend
living the dream.”
Tegan completed her 9-month placement in front office reception
at the five-star Millbrook Resort, but she had to sacrifice many
weekends prior to her January posting to secure the role. “January is
peak season there and they needed me to work weekends for several
months so that I was trained up in time. I spent the last four weeks of
term at QRC doing five days a week at school and working Saturdays
and Sundays at Millbrook just to get a foot in the door,” she says.
It paid off. Tegan began work at St Mortiz in April 2016 at reception.
By June she’d been approached by management to enter the AICR
International Receptionist of the Year Awards, winning the South Island
title, and placing fourth nationally. By September she was in training
for her assistant management role, and by January this year she’d
passed her liquor licensing general manager’s certificate and was
promoted to assistant manager. The local authority interview normally
takes 30 minutes, but Tegan’s took five. “I wanted it so badly,” she says.
“QRC definitely gave me the confidence. I was a bit shy when I
first came, unsure of what I was getting myself into.” Shadowing the
professionals during the first two terms of her course was a huge
boost, and Tegan is the first to admit she’s “still learning”.
With the hotel at around 98 percent occupied and sometimes 100
percent during this peak summer season, there have been plenty of
learning curves. Her greatest hurdle was placing a Chinese bus tour
of 18 which arrived a night early when the hotel only had five rooms
left. It was one of her first nights in sole charge with only a 20-year-
old concierge and a 21-year-old receptionist on duty with her. It was
peak season and Queenstown was full. “I thought, I’ve got to stay
calm and show everyone here that I can do this,” she says.
Fortunately it was not the hotel’s mistake, but Tegan had
to establish this before setting out to solve the problem. She
somehow juggled things to put everyone in a room. “I only had two
housekeeping staff on that night and they were amazing,” she says.
“The tour leader was over the moon, and so grateful.” The sales
manager congratulated Tegan the next day as she’d had to charge the
full room rate and in doing so had made the hotel more money.
Tegan’s totally got her heart set on management – first a front
office management role, then hopefully general manager one day. At
the rate she’s been climbing the ladder that shouldn’t be too far off.
New Zealand and the East Coast of Australia, but students can choose
locations. Placements have taken students to the ski areas of Utah and
Europe, r ight through to Hamilton Island beach resorts. “I can’t go into
a hotel or tour ism activity anywhere in New Zealand without bumping
into a student from our college,” says Charlie, proudly.
Professional lear ning is paramount. “We focus on what the industry
is looking for.” Students are marked on punctuality, grooming standards
and professional behaviour. “It’s all about creating a good work ethic, so
that they understand consequences. We’d rather they lose a few points
on their professional excellence score than lose their job,” says Charlie.
“This means they are employees of first choice when they go out into
For Charlie and the staff, the greatest reward is seeing students retur n
from their practical inter nships, completely transfor med into confident
professionals. “We see such personal growth in these students. It’s a
really powerful transition from goofy teenagers into really confident
adults. That’s what all of us come to work to see,” says Charlie. They
come back full of self-belief and confidence and that’s the stuff that you
want to bottle, as with confidence you can do anything.That’s the ‘on’
switch. As soon as you’ve found that you’re away.”
Students are taught to be good ambassadors and there’s a culture
of positivity and excellence bred within the college walls. “There’s a
positive vibe, attitude and energy that these kids create that’s magic.
Pretty much ever y student will exude positive body language, open the
door for visitors on site and make good eye contact,” says Charlie.
Any fence sitters are weeded out dur ing the interview process.
Students must have a passion for a career in the industry.
QRC, like any hospitality and tour ism institution, still battles to tear
down the age-old misconception that tour ism and hospitality tertiar y
studies are not to be taken ser iously.
26 | April 2017 | Hospitality BUSINESS
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