French expat Carmen Barbera is a guest services executive at Burj Al Arab. She won the Receptionist of the Year UAE Award in November 2021. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Dubai-based hotel receptionist has made it to the list of top 10 of the World’s Best Receptionist and is representing the UAE in the grand finale happening in Germany this weekend.

French national Carmen Barbera is a guest services executive at Burj Al Arab. She found entry to the global event after winning the Receptionist of the Year UAE Award in November 2021.

The contest is run by Amicale International des Chefs de Reception (AICR), the International Front Office Managers Association founded in 1964.

Yomi Egbeleye, president AICR UAE, told Gulf News: “Every year, we hold this competition to find the UAE’s Best Receptionist of the Year. Carmen exemplifies the first class service that the UAE aims to deliver within the hospitality sector. It is truly a pleasure to have her represent us this year in the World’s Best Receptionist competition 2022.”

Carmen competed in the AICR UAE competition which had candidates from about 30 hotels across the UAE. After being crowned the Best Receptionist in the country, she competed in the World’s Best Receptionist Competition consisting of 19 candidates across the world in March this year.

“We then learned Carmen has been selected and advanced to the Top 10 of The World’s Best Receptionist Competition where we will find the overall winner this coming Saturday in Baden-Baden during the AICR Experience Gala on April 23,” said Yomi, who works at The Dubai EDITION Hotel.

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Carmen Barbera says working as a receptionist is a privilege. Image Credit: Supplied

Natural flair for guest relations

In a statement to Gulf News, Ermanno Zanini, regional vice president and general manager of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, said: "Carmen has a natural flair for guest relations and works incredibly hard to curate unforgettable experiences for everyone who walks through our doors at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Her dedication to delivering service beyond expectations is admirable and we are extremely proud of what she’s achieved in this prestigious competition so far. In fact, Carmen is the only representative from the UAE and our entire region to be nominated for the AICR Receptionist of the Year Award, so that in itself is a tremendous achievement. We wish her all the best in Baden Baden.”

Ahead of travelling to the Congress, Carmen said she was proud to represent the UAE and the iconic Burj Al Arab under the Jumeirah Group.

“Working as a receptionist is a privilege,” she said in a video made for the contest.

“We are always somehow emotionally engaged with the guests. And it is a profession that allows us to be ourselves and develop our personality.”

At the end of their journey guests may not recall about some facilities of the hotel, but they will remember that one person who made them feel so special and went beyond expectations to create an unforgettable journey, Carmen pointed out.

She said AICR helps bring together a set of cultures and personalities to lift up the industry and challenge the status quo. “AICR really allows us to work together in order to look ahead and embrace the changes in the hospitality industry.”

Teamwork the winner

Relatively a new member in the hotel where she joined in August last year, Carmen credited team work for her victory in the national contest. “Winning in my country was a surprise and I feel very grateful to be given this chance.

“One of the key moments is when I returned to the hotel, my colleagues from all departments were very supportive and cheerful. It was an incredible feeling to see that besides the competition, it was the greatest teamwork I’ve ever experienced, and everybody contributed to this achievement. My key takeaway from this competition is that I realised how much we can grow when we work as a team. It’s not about growing by yourself, but it’s about growing along with a group of people who all look toward continuous improvement.”

Carmen believes that receptionists must empower themselves to be decision makers and lead the change without forgetting that they will be the witnesses of their own initiatives.

“That level of empowerment can only be achieved through teamwork. At the end of the day, there is no perfect receptionist. It is by sharing our strengths and weaknesses that we can set the sky as our only limit,” she added.

The announcement of the winner of the global contest will be live streamed from 9.15pm CET time on Saturday.