Rydges Wellington's winning concierge, Phil Shearer

New Zealand Chief Concierge at Rydges Wellington, Phil Shearer, was announced winner of  our sister publication, HM’s Concierge of the Year Award in Sydney for 2019 and today remains upbeat about the future of the Kiwi tourism scene. Hospitality Business caught up with him and asked him to explain his positive perspective!

“2020 was shaping to be a really exciting year; we were just coming towards the end of what was a great summer season when the impact of COVID-19 was immediately, brutally and cruelly realised.

“The year ahead was looking incredibly exciting with the upcoming visit by the Welsh Rugby Team, which was to be followed by our fiercest rivals, the Wallabies.

“I have worked in the hospitality industry since 1991, working through the gulf wars, 2001 terror attacks on the USA, SARS in 2003, and the 2008 GFC; nothing that I have experienced in the industry has ever impacted as heavily the current Worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic. “

“It has certainly been unprecedented for our industry to effectively shut down, and lose all business, pretty much overnight. The travel plans of millions worldwide have been thrown into disarray, as have the careers of thousands of our passionate hospitality colleagues across New Zealand, Australia and the world.

“As we have moved down through the Alert Levels to what is currently the “new normal” it has been encouraging to see the industry start to recover, with Hotels, bars and restaurants reopening, and heart-warmingly seeing the support of locals and the wider domestic market as they have the confidence to start travelling and spending again.

“In the interim, the “visit local” side of tourism will be a key factor in helping many businesses survive until we see the international borders reopen.  

“The proposed Trans-Tasman bubble was at one stage looking to be extremely encouraging, and whilst there are currently no community transmission cases in New Zealand, the same sadly can’t be said for our neighbours across the ditch, which most likely puts this bubble on hold for the foreseeable future.

“The impact of COVID-19 will be felt for a very long time to come, and many businesses in the industry will simply not be able to survive the financial ramifications of this Pandemic, and those who do continue to operate will be doing so in a very different environment and with a number of new considerations to be factored in to just how we deliver service.

“Looking forward, we do actually have a lot to be excited about again. Beervana has been rescheduled for later this year, as has Wellington On A Plate, concerts are being announced and planned. In 2021 Wellington is Host City for the ICC Woman’s Cricket World Cup and the recent announcement of the 2023 FIFA Woman’s World Cup, where again Wellington is a host City, is the icing on the cake, so to speak.

“These events will help support our fantastic industry here in Wellington, retaining jobs, creating jobs, and bringing a vibrancy back to the coolest little Capital City in The World!” – Phil Shearer

Incredible memory 

Enthusiastically attending to the needs of guests at Rydges Wellington for the last nine years and a member of Les Clefs d’Or, the global network of concierges, since 2008, Phil is a man with an incredible memory. A self-proclaimed “director of fun” Phil’s meticulous attention to detail and unsurpassed service ethic creates a welcoming home away from home experience, especially for repeat guests. A master of surprise and delight, Phil engages unique ways to emotionally connect with guests by remembering preferred food, beverages, hobbies and things considered important in their lives.

Discretion and humility is second nature to Phil, whether he is expecting the New Zealand Prime Minister, a high profile guest or someone in need of special assistance during their stay. Phil is highly organised and works tirelessly to anticipate their every need, and admits that the devil is in the detail whereby the smallest of tokens can make a major difference to weary travellers.

Marcus Keenan, General Manager for Rydges Wellington says he consistently receives fantastic feedback about Phil, including his amazing memory, fantastic customer service, and being an all-around great guy.

The HM magazine awards celebrate excellence in the hotel industry and feedback from the organisers was that the quality of entries was second to none.

QT Wellington, a property owned by EVENT who is Rydges’ parent company, received a highly commended for New Zealand Hotel.

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