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Career Path

World knowledge goes many miles

by Christy Liu

Queenie So (right)
personal relationship manager
Brendan Ma, lifestyle consultant
centurion travel and lifestyle Hong Kong
American Express
Photo: Edde Ngan

Many Hong Kong people tend to change jobs frequently in pursuit of higher salaries and better opportunities especially when the economy booms. However, professionals who are serious about their long-term careers in the fast-changing and demanding servicing industry should bear in mind the importance of company loyalty and commitment, according to two senior travel and lifestyle consultants at American Express.

"In my experience, loyal employees have the time and opportunities to familiarise themselves with the industry and company culture," says Queenie So, personal relationship manager for American Express' centurion travel and lifestyle service.

Ms So has 20 years' experience in the travel industry and has worked for AE for the past decade. "In addition, supervisors tend to have sufficient time to observe and evaluate the performance and skills of committed employees, which means that they will more readily recommend them for senior positions when opportunities arise," she adds.

Dedication pays

Ms So worked as a premium senior travel executive in the travel service's call centre for several years, responding to enquiries from American Express cardmembers.

After recently being promoted to the position of personal relationship manager at centurion travel and lifestyle, her role is to meet with premium cardmembers to provide them with tailor-made travel related services.

"In the past, I dealt mainly with cardmembers on the phone. Now, I meet them personally in order to help them plan their holidays or business trips, or to solve any travel related problems they may encounter," she explains, adding that her current role is a newly created position.

"The company observed my performance and believed that I had the right skills and personality to provide our clients with superior service," she says.

Brendan Ma, an American Express lifestyle consultant, agrees that some young recruits lack focus and motivation, leading them to move from job to job. Mr Ma joined the company immediately after graduating. "I have been with AE for more than 14 years now and have no plans to move on to another job," he says.

"An employee who is employed by a highly regarded international company such as AE needs years in the business to gain experience and reap the benefit of the career opportunities," Ms So stresses.

Mr Ma remarks: "Employees should keep their supervisors updated on their work and demonstrate their dedication in handling assignments. Staff members with a well-developed sense of responsibility will find themselves in line for promotion when the opportunity comes."

Prospective travel industry professionals should maintain a positive frame of mind, be proactive and constantly question how they can assist their clients and the company, Ms So advises.


"What makes one professional stand out is the quest to provide the highest standards of service excellence"

"Most Hong Kong travel consultants essentially offer similar services and products. What makes one professional stand out the quest to provide the highest standards of service excellence," she says. "We do not merely provide our customers with satisfactory solutions, but also serve them from the heart, anticipating their needs and providing a value-added service that is both professional and personal."

Ms So set herself a number of goals after taking up her current position. "My aims are to provide customers with travel solutions and to also show an interest in their experiences after they return from trips."

Superior journey

American Express takes care of the travel and lifestyle needs of premium cardmembers who usually lead a hectic life. For instance, Mr Ma's job is to assist premium cardmembers with a range of lifestyle enquiries. This includes offering advice, helping with planning, and confirming bookings for restaurants, shows and sporting events. "Our profession combines challenges and excitement. It is deeply satisfying to help clients solve problems," Mr Ma says. "My role is to respond promptly and offer solutions to complicated customer service requirements. I've learnt a great deal from my job which has also helped to improve my organisational and decision making skills."

Since both consultants have been with the company for many years, they have built up friendships with some of their clients, and it is not unusual for them to exchange travel information and personal experiences with cardmembers. This kind of interaction not only drives them to provide every cardmember with the best service, but also energises and motivates them.

Centurion travel and lifestyle is currently recruiting quality travel and lifestyle consultants. Ms So's advice for potential recruits is to approach the job with a positive mindset and to be truly passionate about delivering outstanding customer service.


 

Taken from Career Times 22 August 2008

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