In Conversation with...

Jan Arnold, Vice President of Sales

Have you always wanted to work in hospitality? What inspired you to work in hotels?

Choice was between studying law and hospitality. Fell in love with the industry and the ability to ‘make people smile’ when delivering top notch service. It’s a vibrant, fast-paced, high-touch, international industry – no other business gives you the opportunity to travel/work the world like hospitality

 

Your career has taken you from your native country of Germany to Boston, London and Dubai. Was international travel a big draw for you when choosing your career?

I am a curious person and I was always intrigued by foreign cultures, international affairs and travel … hospitality merges all of this together. There is no better job I could have chosen.

 

What have you learnt through working with global teams? Anything surprising?

It’s important to have an open mind and accept differences – I like to be inspired and to learn from others. It’s important to me to surround myself with people that know more than I do and to learn from them – no matter if it is my 8-year old daughter Zoe on her monocycle or our financial analyst-wizards….

The same applies to my global teams – I love learning from them and at the same time ‘leading’ them. I like to take the best trades from my experiences and make them my own…

 

You shot up the ranks from Associate Regional Sales Manager in 2002 to VP Sales in 2019, overseeing 24 regional sales directors in 12 countries. Which qualities do you think people need to be a success in the hospitality industry?

You need to be a people-person in order to succeed in a luxury service environment. Emotional intelligence and a high degree of self-awareness are essential. You need to be able to listen, learn and inspire….

 

How can a potential candidate impress you during an interview? Can you tell us about a specific candidate who really stood out?

I want to connect with people – I look for an open body language, smiles, firm handshake (if you shake hands), passion, curiosity, wittiness, intelligence with an element of surprise.

 

How would you describe a Rocco Forte Hotel employee, what makes them stand out, what qualities and values do they possess?

Rocco Forte team members are able to connect with guests in a natural and intuitive way. It’s about ‘reading’ the guest and ‘working with the guest’ to his/her requirements in that particular moment-  again it’s about emotional intelligence.

 

What do you think is so unique about working at Rocco Forte Hotels, in terms of the environment, the people, the benefits, etc.

The aspect of being a family owned and run business transcends through the company – every hotel is very special and unique in it’s own way – they all have the same family name (‘a Rocco Forte Hotel’) yet they are all different.

The people that work for this company feel part of the family – Sir Rocco is very involved day-to-day and leads by example. He takes personal interest in every single staff member.

 

In what way do you feel the hospitality industry is evolving and changing (for the better)?

Hospitality continues to evolve – technology, sustainability, healthy-living, slow-food, multi-generational travel, experiential travel …. All of these define our future.

 

Other than Sir Rocco Forte, who in the world of hospitality do you look up to, or who has inspired you the most and why?

There are two people that I look up to in this industry and that had a profound impact on my career and choices:

Jane Burnell-Fraser, VP Global Luxury Sales at Hilton – she was my boss for many years at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and continues to be a mentor and close friend. Jane is the best leader I have ever had – demanding yet fair, involved yet trusting, personable yet professional. I am where I am today due to what I learned from Jane

Isadore ‘Issy’ Sharp, the founder and Chairman of Four Seasons – Isadore Sharp came from very humbled beginnings and created one of the leading hospitality brands. Whilst he imagined the most luxurious settings for his guests, Mr Sharp is one of the most humbled man I have ever met. He has achieved everything in business and set a new benchmark in luxury hospitality, but when you meet him he makes you feel like a friend that you have had for decades …

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