A Home Away From Home

Serviced hospitality provider Park Avenue is often lauded for its top-notch service. Meet one of the team members who work tirelessly to create its success story.

By Farhan Shah

The devil is in the details and the details are what Park Avenue, the hospitality arm of United Engineers Limited (UEL), excels in. This acute attention to the finer points that most people usually overlook have propelled the organisation’s serviced apartments to the top of the pile.

With subtle touches like a welcome letter addressed to each individual guest and a complimentary personalised food basket, Park Avenue has raised the bar in the hospitality industry and has garnered a host of accolades like the Singapore Prestige Brand Award and the Excellent Service Award.

Much of this success can be credited to Serenena Koo Geok Ling, Senior Manager for Hospitality Services.

Managing one of the premier postal codes in the country is not an easy task. Serenena leads the advertising and promotions efforts for the suites and is also in charge of upholding the impeccable service standards of the staff. Despite all that, she still maintains a sunny image and cheerful demeanour that is of paramount importance for success in the hospitality industry.

Learning on the job
Serenena’s passion for hospitality was nurtured since young. “During my school days, I worked part-time as a retail assistant, serving people and making them happy,” she reminisces. Hospitality took a backseat for a while when she chose to major in marketing for her degree with the Marketing Institute of Singapore. After graduating, she decided to combine her passion for hospitality with her love for marketing and joined the ranks of Park Avenue as a marketing executive.

It was a trial by fire for Serenena as she had to learn a multitude of skills while on the job. “What you learn in university is only the basics. In real-life, it’s really different,” the 32-year-old explains.

Miss Independent
With a customer base that spans across countries, meeting the needs of each individual can be extremely challenging. Fortunately for her, the working culture in Park Avenue smoothen the steep learning curve and helped Serenena cope with the demands of her role. “We work like a family and we are very close. We even do outings together,” she reveals.

The independence given to her by her supervisors also made working life easier. Serenena is given free rein to make her own judgement when resolving guests’ issues and deciding what is the best solution for each individual customer.

The autonomy in work given to her has enabled Serenena to grow both professionally and mentally. She was nominated as a Superstar for the Excellence Service Award, an accolade that gives recognition to outstanding individuals in the service industry.

She was also given the opportunity to organise Park Avenue’s efforts in the Established Brands category of the Singapore Prestige Brand Award in 2008, which she carried out with distinction. Through Serenena’s unstinting efforts, Park Avenue scooped the award for their category.

Many big organisations have also stayed loyal to Park Avenue by continually housing their employees in Park Avenue Suites; a testament to the consistently excellent service in Park Avenue.

To ensure it continues to be the benchmark of service quality, Park Avenue regularly sends the different departments for internal training courses to mingle and learn from each other. “They will share what they are doing. (Through these courses), we can learn from them and vice versa,” Serenena says.

The opportunities and training given to Serenena throughout her years with Park Avenue has enabled her to acquire a diverse range of people and personal skills. “I’ve become more decisive and more independent. I can also open up more easily to people now,” she articulates.

Great opportunity
This skill-set will serve Serenena well with UEL’s impending foray into the hotels industry with their offering at one-north, slated to open at the end of 2010. Another real estate development in Changi is also in the works. Both of these projects mean Serenena’s plates will be full for the next two years. However, she has taken the heavier workload in her stride.

Serenena has been laying the groundwork for the new hotel at one-north on top of her regular duties at Park Avenue. She has been busy working with the consultants and the designers as well as training a new team who will take over operations of the hotel when it opens. “I’m just open to taking on new challenges,” she says, displaying the tenacious mind-set that has seen her getting promoted four times in five years.

Despite the lean strength of the Park Avenue team, Serenena feels this has been beneficial to her career as a whole. “Sometimes, other companies are so huge that your efforts are not noticed. However, our hard work and ideas are recognised and appreciated in Park Avenue Suites,” Serenena gushes.

With the organisation’s future plans of expansion into the hospitality industry, these are exciting times for the staff of Park Avenue. “There are lots of opportunities for growth here. It’s going to be an exciting journey for all of us,” Serenena concludes.

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