Peter, Team Member, Premier Inn
Getting back into the working world after a while, or embarking on something new later in life can be daunting. Fear, self doubt and questioning whether it’s even possible is holding people back from starting a new chapter in their life. At Whitbread, we want to turn around the negatives and help you change your story – both the stories you tell yourself about lack of confidence, ability or employability, and your future ambitions too. You’re at the best place to #ChangeYourStory, with the UK’s leading hospitality business.
“When I was made redundant back in 2012, I didn’t expect to be on the dole for two years. Don’t get me wrong, the Job Centre Plus were great, trying to find me my next role but until the Premier Inn job came up in 2014, I grew very despondent.
“Nothing seemed to appeal or I wasn’t the right fit and you begin to wonder if your age is actually being held against you. I had all these years of customer service experience, but no-one seemed to want to utilise them.
“I joined John Lewis straight from school. I aspired to be a middle manager looking after my own category and, after a decade at the company, I was well on my way to becoming just that.
“Sadly my father passed away and I made a change. He’d left me some money and with it I fulfilled an ambition to own my own shop. I left John Lewis and set up a general store in Crosby that also did outside catering for parties and events which had a good run – until a major supermarket opened up just down the road.
“I had to close the business and I went back to John Lewis. It meant starting again from square one, but I loved the company and, once I returned I had the opportunity to take on many different roles and enjoyed my time there.
“Once I left, I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life. Two frustrating years passed until I was asked on a visit to the JCP ‘would you do nights?’. Well, I’d never done them before but that’s what the role at Premier Inn required. In fact, I’d never worked in a hotel before but still I applied, got the job and loved it from Day One.
“I actually started on the longest day of the year – so the shortest night! I seemed to fit right in with the team and the culture at Premier Inn. I found it similar to John Lewis in that there was a clear structure, guidelines and support. Also, much like the shop floor where you had to know your product inside out to make the sale and help the customer, the onus was on your interaction with people.
“Local knowledge is great and one of our strongest points at our hotel. Why not help our guests get the best experience possible in our amazing city of Liverpool? It’s all about going that extra mile for them and if a bit of advice or a recommendation helps someone fall in love with Liverpool, then I’ve done my job.
“We’re a city centre hotel so it could get a bit lively at weekends with stag and hen parties, but it was good fun. However, my manager was great at understanding my need to return to days and the breakfast shift suited me perfectly. I enjoy greeting people in the morning – it’s so important to talk to the guests and satisfaction for me is seeing them return or the lovely things that get said about us on TripAdvisor. It’s about seeing the opportunity to help and offering a hand before they even ask.
“I get a lot working for such a vibrant company that’s not resting on its laurels. You always see our new hotels and restaurants opening; there’s a new hotel in Lime Street, one on the Isle of Man… it’s nice to feel you’re working for a business that’s looking forward and not back.”