Jill Smyth's job as sales executive in the Dublin Hilton involves all aspects of selling the hotel, even ensuring its immaculate appearance. Catherine Foley reports for the Irish Times.
She scans the hotel lobby. Everything is in order. She walks through the reception area, the dining room, the bar. Jill Smith surveys her domain as she goes briskly through the hotel.
She's in a well-cut brown trouser suit over high heels. They click as she goes. She misses nothing.
Is that a scuff mark on the carpet? She makes a mental note. That flower display doesn't quite measure up. She'll follow that up later.
Smith loves being in the hotel business. She's passionate about it. She's a sales executive in the Dublin Hilton Hotel.
"You've never got two days the same. You have to love it or you just couldn't do it."
Every day her diary is full to the brim, she says. Starting with a breakfast meeting, she's often on her feet until 11 p.m. or later.
"You have to be very good with people and be very versatile because you're dealing with lots of different nationalities and different types of people," she explains.
"You have to be very organised. You're juggling six or seven huge projects at the same time. I have a target of 15 appointments a week. You have to fit them in and the follow-up.
"I have targets. People say targets are bad but I like them. You have something to benchmark against."
In between selling the hotel to clients, she's also doing a diploma in professional sales at night, which is run by the DIT and the Sales Institute of Ireland. It will help her diversify in the future if she decides to move.
"But I doubt it, because I'm hotel-trained and it's hotels that I love. People can tell. they say I'm passionate about the job."
What she loves most of all is "closing a deal, getting a contract signed, seeing it through." She likes "making money for the Hilton" but there is the added bonus of "seeing satisfied customers and seeing something follow through from a research call to a call from someone to say the conference went really well, to thank you. We've created that."
The hotel is purpose-built, she tells a visiting company executive who is checking the hotel as a venue for use in the future. "It's one of the busiest hotels in Dublin," says Smith.
Her training for this career began in Athlone RTC (which is now Athlone IT) where she did a national certificate in front office management. The two-year course included a six-month work placement at the Connemara Coast Hotel in Co Galway.
"I was terrified, but I loved it," she says. "The questions you get asked at the reception desk. It was quite a posh hotel. It was hugely intimidating."
After completing her course she applied for and was subsequently offered a job in London working with the Chelsea Hotel in Knightsbridge as a reservations agent. She gradually became more interested in sales. "There was a lot of forecasting and we did an awful lot of analytical work."
After a year she was offered a job in St Ermin's Hotel. After more than a year, she decided to look for a job nearer home. Today her job involves telesales, meetings, doing "all the appointments, administration, a little bit of marketing and maintaining brochure levels.
"You deal with all the PAs that make the bookings - all aspects of the hotel - the conferencing and banqueting side of things, taking care of familiarisation trips, incentive groups, small meetings.
"You are selling locally, nationally and internationally." Her job involves travelling to clients also. Every two months she makes regular visits to clients in cities around the country."
Studying whether people are happy with the hotel service or not is also part of her job, because, she points out, "not everybody will tell you whether they are happy or not". Smith keeps her eyes peeled all the time. It's her job.
This article was originally published in the Irish Times in November 2001