Deborah Collins, account director for corporate, entertainment, media and sport at The Belfry Hotel & Resort, shares her experiences looking after VIP guests.
There is no typical day in my role at the Belfry. It is a 24/7 job; my phone is always on and ready to receive texts and calls to ensure I meet the requirements of our guests and events held at the resort. My main role is to make our guests feel comfortable, safe and at home.
Part of my job role is VIP guests. Behind the celebrity they are just lovely people who want to feel looked after. Our VIP guests are used to spending many nights in hotels, so I want to make sure we create a ‘home away from home’ experience for them, and that does often mean we receive lots of unusual and last-minute requests. Last week I had to source a grand piano for a guest – and I did manage to find one which was available for rent for 24 hours. Nothing is impossible!
I’ve been working in the hotel industry for over 20 years and I’ve been at The Belfry for seven years. I love my job as no day is the same. One day I may spend the morning welcoming guests and responding to their requests or I may be meeting agents and security for site inspections ahead of a VIP’s stay. Then I might spend the afternoon looking for new opportunities for the resort, this includes communicating with event organisers requiring accommodation for their artists, crew or sports teams, or looking for and gaining bid opportunities.
A tale to tell
My role means that I have got a lot of interesting stories to tell – and some embarrassing ones too! Once I was in a lift with an American rock band who were asking me about the hotel’s three golf courses, including The Brabazon and The PGA National, which are recognised as world-class. The whole time I thought they were asking me about goths not golf, which meant we had a very confusing and awkward conversation.
There was also the time I met Gary Barlow on arrival, and he said it was one of the best hotel welcomes he had ever had. I said thank you and without thinking I curtsied – it was the middle of the night, so I was tired!
The highlight of my role has to be receiving glowing feedback from our clients. It is a great feeling knowing all of our hard work has paid off, especially when you hear that clients who visit us for the first time say that they will definitely be coming back to stay.
There’s no I in team
Teamwork is key at The Belfry; we are like one big family. We all work together to ensure each guest’s visit is seamless from start to finish. Each team has adapted their procedures to ensure we can continue our usual exceptionally high standard of service in the new Covid safe environment.
Weeks, even months, of planning go into winning new business. I am part of the incredible sales team, but the whole Belfry team are involved with every visit, from our health and safety manager, security team and front of house team. I also liaise with our fantastic operations team, who work their magic to help to arrange the logistics of our VIP visits, and our amazing award-winning chefs to discuss menus. Every single client always comments on the food and service and how fabulous it is, which makes me so proud.
When it comes to VIP guests, our relationship with the agents is crucial to ensure communication is right so that the process is seamless. There needs to be trust; we have a strict discretion policy and always respect the privacy of our guests so everyone can enjoy a relaxing stay. It is also vital that we get to know our guests, their likes and dislikes, so we spend a lot of time putting in the research to make sure they have a comfortable stay and so we can surprise them with treats throughout their visit. It’s the little touches that make them feel relaxed, thought of and welcomed. The Belfry is renowned for its warm and welcoming hospitality; we take the time to get to know our guests to make sure that every visit to the resort is a special one.
We were delighted when elite sports started last summer; we really appreciate having the teams stay with us. Our usual high levels of service along with our new protocols have ensured their stays are safe and comfortable and, importantly, enjoyable. Our staff and guests have had access to daily rapid testing since the summer to ensure a safe environment for everyone on site. The health and safety of our guests and teams has always been a priority at The Belfry and we will do anything to ensure everyone feels safe with us and that business can continue for our clients. We are also very fortunate to have 550 acres of outdoor space surrounding the resort, which provides our guests with plenty of space to get out to get some fresh air and also physically distance.
Now we are out of lockdown, we are excited about welcoming more of our guests back to The Belfry. We missed having our VIP entertainment guests with us and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back once shows, tours and festivals can begin again in earnest.
About the Belfry
The Belfry Hotel & Resort is an award-winning hotel situated in the heart of the country in Royal Sutton Coldfield, North Warwickshire, and is home to 319 bedrooms and suites, several restaurants and bars, events and meetings spaces, a leisure club, and The Belfry Spa. The hotel’s three golf courses, including The Brabazon and The PGA National, are recognised as world-class, having previously hosted The Ryder Cup four times – more than any other venue in the world.
The Belfry’s extensive outdoor space also plays host to mini festivals, outdoor TV screenings and teambuilding activities. www.thebelfry.com