David Smith, Club Wyndham Airlie Beach Whitsundays’ new general manager, has an awesome piece of advice for starting in a new role. Advice he borrowed from Bruce Lee.
Smith, who most recently was general manager of Binna Burra Lodge on the Gold Coast, will now be charged with heading up a property with sensational views overlooking the Whitsunday Passage, It offers a selection of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and features an open-air restaurant and bar, infinity pool and spa, gym, conference facilities and undercover parking, all within easy reach of Airlie Beach’s long list of popular attractions.
What was your first ever job and what lessons did you take from it?
My first real job was pulling pints in the pub! A great introduction to the hospitality industry and a role I still recall enjoying every minute of. For me it was the interaction with the customer and being a true welcome host. This is something that has stayed with me throughout my career and I still hold strongly today. Great service produces great results.
What’s the first thing you do when you start a new position?
Observation, observation, observation! The most important thing is to understand a business before making any key decisions or changes. After a four week period with plenty of notes, it’s time to make your mark on things. You have to adapt to new surroundings. The famous martial artist Bruce Lee once said “Be water” in other words adapt to new ways and don’t be rigid in your old way of thinking. Each organisation has a unique culture and you need to adapt.
What has the pandemic taught you about yourself and the hospitality industry?
The pandemic has shaken the hospitality industry to its core. Some businesses haven’t survived and others are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. I believe that no industry has really been invincible during this time, and many people have learned a lot. For me personally it has taught me to be more mindful of how things can change suddenly, to always prepare for the worst, and of course expect the unexpected!
What do you miss most about travelling?
The feeling of arriving at the airport knowing you’re on the way to somewhere special. It may sound odd, but there is nothing better than having the luggage checked in, when you are through the security check and passport control. That’s the time when the relaxation flows over you, and you haven’t even reached your destination yet. That feeling should be tenfold on the next vacation. I can’t wait!
Where are you most looking forward to travel once borders open?
This can be summed up in just one word - Freedom. I think there has been a collective claustrophobic feeling of captivity with all the lockdowns and restrictions. We can look forward to a brighter, positive future for our industry, and in particular as individuals once the domestic and international borders open. From a business perspective, I can’t wait for guests to return and see the resort running at capacity - happy days!
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