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Linda Smith has been awarded Front of House Manager of the Year in recognition of her passion and dedication to Moonfleet Manor hotel.
Smith is responsible for seven front of house employees across reception and the night team, and proved to the judges that she has a genuine willingness to further the success of the Weymouth hotel as a whole. As a head of department she is already accountable for guest experience, revenue, training and budgeting. She has a track record of going above and beyond her expansive remit, working towards greater cross-departmental collaboration, seamless operations and introducing a culture of stepping in herself to ensure the personal safety and wellbeing of her guests.
For example, when the child of a family staying at the hotel became unwell, Smith packed an overnight bag from their room, offered them a lift to the hospital, made them a snack, provided change for parking and a gift bag for the child on her return. They described Smith's conduct as showing "genuine care and compassion" and wrote a letter to the managing director to express their gratitude.
Even while the hotel is undergoing extensive refurbishment, which includes all bedrooms and public areas in the main Manor House, Smith has managed to maintain a hotel guest satisfaction score of 4.7 out of 5. She truly values team and guest feedback, which has empowered the day-to-day running of the hotel, something that her colleagues and seniors have picked up on.
Michelle Chilton, Smith's general manager, said: "Linda is someone who takes ownership of the hotel and wants all of our guests to have the most homely experience. Her level of commitment over the years and time dedicated to better Moonfleet has been invaluable, and we couldn't have done it without her. She manages to always put the guest first, whilst ensuring her team are happy and looked after."
Smith, who has had over 20 years' experience in the industry, is particularly perceptive when it comes to training the next generation. She encourages team members to think creatively in their approach to dealing with challenges and has devised methods of rewarding team performance, such as hotel-based treats. Her retention rates are especially impressive at a time when hospitality has been hit hard with staff shortages, as she has had zero staff turnover for several years. A recent employee survey revealed that 94% of her team know what is expected of them and that 82% have the chance to perform at their best every day.
She is also a frequent contributor to Moonfleet's wider strategy, having suggested and implemented third-party booking websites, a review of the hotel's banking procedures and developing a new seasonal package.
What the judges said
"Linda stood out in a highly competitive field. She places the guest experience at the heart of everything she does, and I suspect we shall hear a lot more about Linda in the coming years."
"The winner has it all! A true hospitality professional who has become a key member of her team. She truly deserves to be recognised as a leading light in our industry."
Thomas Agius Ferrante
Achraf Abdelhak, Supercity Aparthotels
Megan Bourke Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Sally Kinsella Kimpton Clocktower Hotel
Linda Smith Moonfleet Manor
2021 Rosie Wilkins
2019 Alex Wilson, Brown's Hotel
2018 Xiaomin (Min) Sun, Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa
2017 Sally Humphrey, the Grove, Hertfordshire
2016 Laura Godman, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
2015 Lorena Somera, the Capital, London
2014 Thoralf Kretzschmar, Lancaster London
2013 Clarisse Abbey-Blackmore, Crowne Plaza London Docklands
2012 Rachel Thomas, Danesfield House
2011 Joanne Alder, Park Plaza Victoria, London
2010 Ben Seager, the Chesterfield Mayfair
2009 Ben Malpass, the Cavendish, London
2008 Carly Taylor, Ston Easton Park
2007 Felicity Wheeler, Four Seasons, London