J.K.Place Capri Italy Halcyon House Cabarita Beach
Mauro De Riso was born with hotels running through his veins; hospitality is in his blood and he was always destined to be a ‘Customer Service Revolutionary’.
Mauro was born into a family where his 5 uncles on his mother’s side, who own and run 5 star hotels from the north of Italy near the French border to the renaissance beauty of Florence. Mauro started working in the family business of 5 star hotels at the age of 16.
‘The Renaissance Man’
In December 2014 after working in the award winning boutique hotel J.K Place Capri Italy, Mauro arrived in the little known yet stunning far northern NSW coastal village of Cabarita Beach. His initial brief, as General Manager, was to oversee the commissioning and opening of Halcyon House in May 2015, a five star 21 room boutique hotel located on the northern foreshore of beautiful of Cabarita Beach. Halcyon House is approximately 30 minutes’ drive north of Byron Bay and very conveniently only 15 minutes south of Gold Coast Airport.
So what brought Mauro to Australia and Halcyon House? In a word ‘PASSION’. Passion for customer service, for his staff, hospitality and 5 star hotels. You only have to spend a few moments with Mauro to find yourself being drawn into his love for hospitality, people and hotels. Halcyon House certainly exudes the warmth and the passion exhibited by Mauro with its beautiful blues and white furnishings that could be straight out of an Ernest Hemingway novel as you sip your margarita being cooled by a coastal Pacific breeze.
One of the reasons for Mauro’s passion of working in hospitality and great hotels is that he feels like he is on a journey himself; continually meeting different people from different places and different cultures. He explains, “You feel like you have a little journey each day you work.”
Mauro’s other passions in life are photography, all things vintage and his true love; his 1981 Vespa motorbike, which sadly is still in Italy.
His personal philosophy about delivering outstanding customer service is “People and Passion,” Halcyon has sought to recruit experienced, amazing staff locally and from abroad. For example, Brett the Restaurant Manager is from the award winning Gold Coast restaurant “The Fish House” and the Front Office Manager has just arrived from J.K Pace Capri Italy with over 20 years’ experience in 5 star hotels.
Mauro explained that hospitality needs people with passion because it is a tough job. Hospitality people are required to work at Christmas, Easter and generally when the majority of people are relaxing and enjoying themselves. He believes in recruiting people who view hospitality as a career. Mauro’s explains the main thing that will contribute to the success of the business and outstanding customer service, are the employees.
To demonstrate to Halcyon’s employees that they are valued, Mauro gives them an opportunity to experience the hotel from a guest’s perspective. Each employee with their partner are invited to stay one night at the hotel as guests once a year. The goal of this initiative is for each employee to have a holistic experience as a guest from Check-in to dining in Paper Daisy restaurant, to having a relaxing massage at the spa. Mauro sees this as a small investment that gives big returns. This also serves to ensure that each staff member has a greater comprehension and understanding of ‘the needs of the guest’.
Another successful strategy as part of the Halcyon staff development is cross training of all employees in other departments. This is designed to break down any potential communication barriers between departments and give each employee a greater understanding of the challenges faced by other departments. It also ensures that staff members are multi- skilled and are able to step into the breach of another department if required.
There is an inherent belief by Halcyon’s senior management that staff need to be stimulated in order to maintain consistency in the delivery of outstanding customer service. To this end Mauro believes in sharing all guest feedback, positive and negative, with his staff. Another strategy adopted by Mauro to ensure consistency of service is to endeavour to meet with the guests at least once a day. He always sees the guest on check out to personally receive feedback from the guests on their experience at the hotel.
Mauro’s personal touch extends to all of his staff. He takes it upon himself as his first duty of the day to personally greet every staff member and shake their hand to ensure that they feel valued. Making staff feel valued is one of Halcyon’s key strategies to ensure high levels of staff retention and ensure high levels of customer service are maintained.
Social media through multiple platforms such as Instagram and facebook are seen as crucial mediums to ensure Halcyon is creative and innovative. These platforms are integrated into the overall marketing strategy to build a story that reflects Halcyon’s brand and their commitment to delivering outstanding customer service. Both the company ‘Stylist’ and Marketing Manager determine the best photo to post on Instagram which reinforces the brand. They have even determined the most effective time to place a post, for instance in the evening, on weekends or on Monday mornings.
Mauro passionately states, “The goal is to build amazing customer service and to make a difference; to be the best in everything and to treat the guests as if they are in our home and as if I have a guest in my private house.”
Mauro’s top 3 tips for creating ‘Customer Service Revolutionaries’
- “The right employee; believe in them and support them.”
- “Always be a leader; set the right example.”
- “PASSION, this industry is all about PASSION.”
Mauro’s concluding remarks certainly reflect his Italian passion
“like a family, this is our house”.
Chief Executive Officer and Founder
m 0448 098 453