Tiffany Marie Somes
Operations Manager – Ferra Group of Hotels and Restaurants
Managed by Hospitality Business Group Inc. (Management Group)
Three things you make sure you focus on in your work:
I give my heart to everything that I do. Being in the service business is not just about knowing the proper service standards. It is also about the heart you put into it, to make the work and service you give as genuinely and as truthful as possible; for external guests, partners and most especially to internal teams and work mates. I also believe that if you put your heart into what you do, the output becomes more meaningful, with a different kind of quality.
I make sure to build relationships to build the business. I am a very relational kind of leader. I make sure I get to know all of our staff and my team mates. Not only by name but by their stories. Once I know who they are and what makes them work hard, I use that as a motivation to bring out the best in them. Part of this is building a different kind of respect within the team. So when all else fails, because misunderstandings can be unavoidable, it’s easily mended because of mutual respect.
Put God in the middle of the team. Meetings and activities are never complete without an opening and closing prayer. Talking to troubled staff will always end with “let me pray for you and with you”. I sincerely think that whatever I have in talent, in skill, in heart came from God. And that is how I want to shape the people around me; to walk in Faith, always.
Top tips for your Hospitality colleagues:
My two top tips have been my guide ever since I started as a Marketing Assistant.
Increase your value. I started with Ferra Hotels as a Marketing Assistant. I knew I did not want to remain in that role forever; I wanted to grow professionally and progress. So I started training in the Front Office. I then cross-trained to Food and Beverages Service, with a basic in Bartending. I went through training to become the Hotel’s Pollution Control Officer and then proceeded to train for Housekeeping. My next goals are to improve in Maintenance and start training in the kitchen.
Increasing your value is not always about the money, although that does come with it; you earn more when you learn more. It is about your personal growth and fulfillment; knowing you have become better than who you were before. When you also know more, you can share more to other people. As they say, you cannot give what you do not have.
Always have ‘the attitude of gratitude’. Big or small, good or bad, be thankful. It makes you see the world and all its ups and downs with a more beautiful and positive perspective.
I assist in training our staff team, scholars and our OJT’s (On the Job Trainees). They undergo rigid, values-centered training and skills enhancement. We also make mental health an essential in the workplace; where staff can get support from the management with their personal and career struggles. I am a young Hotel Leader under our management group, Hospitality Business Group Inc. and we ensure quality values-driven training for our staff and scholars. We concentrate on more than just their knowledge and skills, we develop their heart and their character too.
I set up a personal project when the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) started on the island in March 2020. I named it #MaskImportanteKa. The aim is to provide a free washable, cloth face mask to vulnerable people on Boracay. We had a shortage of N95 Masks even before the ECQ was announced. I enlisted a local dressmaker, who had lost customers due to the lock down, to help make the masks. I was able to use the medical knowledge I had from Nursing, which I did before taking up Communication back in college. We have been able to distribute 200 face masks so far, whilst helping local livelihoods, and will continue with production while it is needed.
During the COVID-19 Lock Down I did what I could do support stranded workers. Not just stranded hospitality workers but the construction workers employed in the ongoing rehabilitation of the island. I personally donated food packs to 15 stranded construction workers in Manoc-Manoc. Ferra Hotel also supported the Red Cross My Boracay Share project by donating noodles for their food pack distribution to stranded workers on Boracay.
I also set up and run a Facebook Group ‘Stranded in Boracay‘. More than 200 workers, stranded on Boracay during Lock Down, are members. The aim is to provide support and information to stranded workers during ECQ. I share announcements and words of encouragement to them, as well as useful information. I have also coordinated with LGUs to get some of the stranded workers home. That includes helping them process their health certificates and letters of acceptance from their home areas, working with the media to get their stories heard and working with Red Cross for the distribution of food packs to them.
One of Ferra Hotel’s projects is Lighting Your Paths. It is an electrical lighting project which runs from the start of the road our Boracay hotels are located on, all along and then down to Bulabog Beach. During the rehabilitation of Boracay in 2018 this road, and the connecting road down to the kite-surfing beach was plunged in to darkness. We started Lighting Your Paths in July 2019. Ferra Hotel provided the equipment; basic 20 watt Firefly Floodlights, and the wiring. Ferra Hotel’s Maintenance Team did the job connecting the wiring to the electricity source of Ferra Hotel’s staff house.
For the community, we invited people of Bulabog for a Covid-19 Awareness Forum, sponsored by our hotel. We also distributed Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials to the neighbors, as awareness campaign during the onset of the pandemic.
We were also able to distribute at least 50 food packs to people from sectors who lost jobs; ordinary vendors, boat men, etc. The food packs contained 2 kg of rice, canned goods, noodles, coffee and some personal hygiene items and a washable cloth mask.
When tourism first began to struggle, we started the #BestTimeNow campaign. I presented the campaign to the other island stakeholders, to help us push the tourism agenda of the island. We invited managers and business owners for a short brainstorming session, to present the idea and work on uniting people as one Boracay community; promoting the island, setting aside competition to work as a team.
I grew up with my grandparents, so they inspired me a lot. My Tatay, who recently passed away, taught me to be tough yet gentle with people I meet. My Nanay, who is now 75 years old, gave me my hunger for education (both of them are teachers).
My boss, our General Manager, Sir Dante Cruz, also inspired me to be a person of vision and that being young doesn’t mean you can’t become somebody; for yourself and for the people around you. As he said, age is just a number and as young as I am, I should be a visionary leader with high integrity.
What’s in your Future?
I hope to grow our team within Hospitality Business Group Inc. and Ferra Group, by building their knowledge, skills and heart. I think that is the real value of me as a leader; build more leaders with so much heart for what we do. I want to inspire young hoteliers like me to dream big and succeed in the industry. We want to expand the Ferra brand soon and I would like to be there when it happens.
On a personal level, my dream is actually to become a lawyer. For now, I don’t see myself getting to Law School anytime soon, maybe a Masters or additional academic credentials might do for now.