At 21, Amanda Bye has already experienced many facets of the hospitality industry, from cooking at a winery, to housekeeping for a motel chain, to working the front desk at a downtown Vancouver hotel. Currently a reservations agent at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort and Conference Centre in Kelowna, BC, she has her eyes set on a position in the company’s management trainee program.
“I have always wanted to do something in hospitality, and I am a big fan of customer service,” says Bye, who got an early start in her chosen career. A native of Ontario, whose family moved to Kelowna when she was in secondary school, Bye parlayed her high school cooking courses into a job as a prep cook and line cook at Summerhill Winery when she was only 15. She then moved on to similar work at the Hotel Eldorado, where she became a dessert chef assistant, prepping the dessert buffet.
She enrolled in the Hotel and Restaurant Management program at Camosun College in Victoria, attracted, in part, by the program’s two co-op placements. The first saw her as a server, bartender and hostess at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, Alta., and the second, in various roles (guest service agent and housekeeping) at Super 8 Motel in Kelowna. With the recession, Bye was fortunate to be able to secure both placements, and feels they helped get her to where she is today. After graduating from Camosun College, Bye travelled to Australia and worked as a guest service agent, server and mini-bar attendant at the Daydream Island Resort and Spa in the exotic Whitsunday Islands.
Things picked up when Bye moved to Vancouver, where she tackled the role of guest service agent at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel. After a year of performing a variety of duties — handling guest check-ins and checkouts, learning the switchboard procedures, helping at the concierge desk, working the night audit shift — she started missing Kelowna, and put out job feelers to return home. She is now a reservations agent at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort and Conference Centre, for which her interface with guests is conducted almost exclusively over the phone or online. That change took some adjustment, she admits. “It’s a different form of customer service. I’m learning to use my people skills without seeing the customer face to face.”
Bye has packed in a lot of experience already, and if accepted to participate in the company’s management trainee program, she will likely have to move away from Kelowna again to work at another Delta property. However, she is quite prepared for this scenario. “I definitely want to stay in hospitality,” she says. “I love interacting with new people and learning where they’re from.” In addition to on-the-job training, she strongly recommends that anyone seeking a tourism career consider a program such as the one she took at Camosun. “I gained a lot through the program. It really helped with my maturity. I also recommend it, because you may get an opportunity to travel. If you have hospitality experience, you can work on a cruise ship or in almost any country in the world.”