Elias Abou Jaoude, 23, is also the country-level UAE topper in the global contest Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Lebanese expat in Dubai has been named as the second best hotel receptionist in the world. Elias Abou Jaoude, 23, who works with five-star hotel Jumeirah Al Qasr within Madinat Jumeirah Beach Resort, was adjudged the first runner up in the ‘World’s Best Receptionist’ contest held in Qatar last week.

Jaoude became the second best among top 17 finalists in the grand finale of the contest run by Amicale Internationale des Chefs de Reception (AICR), the International Front Office Managers Association founded in 1964. It was instituted in memory of David Campbell, who was the Chef de Reception at The Ritz Hotel, Paris, after gaining a wealth of international experience.

No two guests are the same, points out Jaoude Image Credit: Supplied

Jaoude represented the UAE after having become the country winner from among 28 contestants in the AICR UAE contest held in October 2022. Last year’s UAE winner, Carmen Barbera, a French receptionist with Burj Al Arab, had also won the first runner up title in the global finale that was held in Germany.

Jaoude said he was honoured to represent the UAE through one of the iconic hotels of Dubai inspired by the 1001 Arabian Nights.

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Exciting moments

He said the winning moments were “an out-of-this-world experience”.

“Following the win of the AICR UAE national competition, the thrill and excitement which I experienced had me constantly looking forward to this amazing five-day journey. Not only was it a gathering of like-minded and talented individuals competing for the prestigious David Campbell Trophy, but a bundle of memories where friendships were created and many laughs were shared reminding us how exciting our roles in the hospitality industry are,” he added.

“Now, and after being the first runner up of this exciting competition, I look forward to further expanding my knowledge and enhancing my practices as a receptionist in the industry through the connections I have made. I would also like to sincerely thank my friends, family, and colleagues who have never stopped providing me with overwhelming support ever since the first day of being enrolled in the competition by my hotel Jumeirah Al Qasr.”

Special experiences 

Jaoude says being a receptionist is one of the most exciting roles in the industry. The reason? “There are no two similar guests. Every guest checking in is a new challenge. It’s a new life story that you’re just about to discover while every guest checking out is a memory created, which you have contributed to… At the end of the day, when it comes to experiences, it is us the people who are responsible for creating these memories for our special guests.”

He said the competition gave him a huge sense of reward and a big responsibility to perform at the highest levels.

“AICR to me represents a unique networking opportunity where talented hoteliers all around the world share their best practices and knowledge while also showcasing how important and complex the role of a receptionist is, as we are custodians of the guest experience,” added Jaoude.

Journey to fame

Jaoude joined Jumeirah Group after arriving from Lebanon in September 2021.

“I started my career as a ‘Club Lounge Agent’ during the pre-opening phase and got promoted to ‘Receptionist’ within the span of three months. The environment of receptions to me feels so exciting as every day represents a new story, a new challenge, and a new lesson.

“Within a year, I was able to achieve a score of 95 per cent on our LQA [Leading Quality Assurance] Audit while getting personally recognised as a star employee by the auditor. I also achieved [titles such as] Front of the House, Hero of the Month for June 2022 and of course, winning the AICR Receptionist of the year 2022 Competition for the UAE Section,” said a jubilant Jaoude.

“Securing a spot in the top three position in the global competition embodies everything I have learned within the past year as a receptionist and apply these practices while at the same time pushing me for further growth in my career and making my entire team and family proud; who have enormously contributed to my personality and the person I am today.”

Unique impression 

In a statement to Gulf News, Fatma Mohammad Lamara, operation manager, Jumeirah Al Qasr, said Jaoude had shown dedication and passion in everything he did ever since he started his career in the UAE with the hotel.

“His commitment to delivering service excellence has made him exceptional in his role. He serves with passion and emphasises on providing an experience to our guests whether by creating a unique first impression on arrival or a memorable farewell on departure,” she stated.

Jaoude has been remarkable in his profession due to his continual self-development and his hunger for knowledge.

“His key to success is the extra mile and the effort he puts in while performing his duties. It is great to apply the standard while doing a task but putting a personal touch is what makes a service very unique and memorable,” she added.

Yomi Egbeleye, president AICR UAE, said the AICR UAE section is proud of Jaoude’s victory. “His passion and genuine approach are traits that truly set him apart. It has been an honour to be alongside him through this journey,” added Egbeleye.

Bianca Alexandra Bogdan, Guest Relations Supervisor from Mandarin Oriental, Doha, was adjudged the ‘World’s Best Receptionist’ while Krzysztof Studziński of Sofitel Grand Sopot, Poland, bagged the second runner-up position.