Throughout my life, I’ve never really been exposed to the other side of the hospitality chain.
When it comes to 5-star hotels or restaurants, my experience has always been from a customer’s perspective and it stops there.
Because of this, I must admit that I can be quite ignorant on what it really takes to step up and provide service that can make anyone feel like a VIP.
But can this service be replicated outside of the normal conventional hospitality locations like hotels?
Colony Co-working Space, a co-working space that provides guests with a premium working experience, believes this factor is what is contributing to their growth.
To understand what they meant by that, Colony invited me to try living the life of a Community Manager for a few days and it was definitely an experience.
Starting The Day Off
Arriving at Colony KLCC in the wee hours of the morning (okay it wasn’t that early), I noticed that the co-working space was already as it usually is.
This was thanks to Alan, one of the senior Community Managers who acted as my “boss” during my short stay as a team member.
He greeted me with a warm smile and a polite poise before sharing with me how a usual morning in Colony goes.
Being the first one in at about 8.30AM, he starts off his opening routine by turning all the lights on, but it’s not as simple as that.
“We have to make sure that the brightness of the lights are exactly the same as during our launch so that our guests are placed in a familiar setting every time they come here to work,” shared Alan.
My surprised expression didn’t stop him from sharing about another important factor during their opening: the music. It’s something I usually brush off when working in co-working spaces but for the Community Managers, it can make a world of a difference.
To control this, he unlocked his phone to show me an app called MusicSpace, which allows them to control the music that plays throughout the space all day.
Alan continued, “The music we choose here is a genre that mixes relaxation and inspires creativity, so it can’t be anything too aggressive.”
The same song is also never repeated twice to prevent boredom and they make sure to change their playlist every 2 months to bring new sounds within the walls.
The morning shift ends with a quick round around the area to make sure everything follows their Plan-o-gram—a comprehensive visual guide showing how Colony should look like at all times, from the arrangement of the room decors to the way the blinds are adjusted.
Talk about attention to detail!
Going Into The Afternoon
As lunch time approached, I spent most of my time in the Community Managers’ main room and it was quite a bustling scene.
People continuously streamed in and out, some were the usual tenants while others purchased the day pass or prepaid time pass. It’s a pretty common scene as Colony often gets guests who come in while waiting for their flights, meetings and such.
“Which gives us even more reason to create a good first impression so that these guests would feel compelled to come back,” explained Alan.
For this, Colony prepares special vouchers for their temporary guests to access certain amenities like free coffee and printing services.
“We have a Google sheet document to show exactly how many hours are left in a pass while monitoring the exact amount of amenities the guests are entitled to based on what they paid for, like the printing privileges and reservations of meeting rooms,” shared Alan.
As he was in the middle of showing me how he prepares the vouchers, we were interrupted by one of his colleagues mentioning that he needed to help set up for meetings.
As Colony attracts quite a number of entrepreneurs, it’s common for them to have web conferences so to make sure there aren’t any issues during the meeting, Alan makes sure the set up is perfect.
Afterwards, he was suddenly called back to the concierge area as there was a problem with one of the guest’s access card.
He opened his Access Cards List, which keeps track of the access permissions for each guest. He noticed immediately that the guest was late in paying rent and that the payment just came through.
“Our payment terms are quite flexible, but we haven’t received any form of payment by a certain date, we usually block access to the cards and will only reinstate once the payment has been verified,” added Alan.
In The Evening
The day went on with Alan almost never really being able to sit down as there’s always something to do. But I noticed that it was always done with a smile on his face.
At around 4PM, Alan mentioned that it was time for one of his daily rounds to which I accompanied him.
While I was following his tracks, I noticed that his gaze darted left and right all the time, and he mentioned that as he started working for Colony, he was trained to see everything from a 360 degree perspective instead of just one way.
“It helps me make sure that everything is in order and that everything is as it should be,” said Alan which I found impressive.
He shared that the team constantly does rounds every 2 hours or so to mingle with guests, and the common hotspots are at the water coolers or at the smoking area.
These are the chances where the community managers will get hints from the guests on how to better their experience of being in Colony.
An example he gave was of a guest complaining about how she was too cold despite her colleagues thinking the room temperature’s fine.
Alan then said we had to make a pit stop, to drop a gift for one of the guests – a blanket, nicely wrapped with a ribbon. He explained that this is part of the Guest Happiness Fund that they were given, where the team gets RM100 per guest per day.
During their team meetings, Alan will let the team know on what exactly the fund was used for and whether it created a strong impact to the guests, such as getting new dry clothes for guests who may have been stuck in the rain.
This is a part of Timothy Tiah’s goal in finding different ways to make the guests happy beyond their usual satisfaction level and is a part of Colony’s attention to detail to give the best experience.
“We’re also trying out this new experiment to enhance the hospitality experience. We want to try removing a decision from our guest because people are generally happier when they have to make fewer decisions. So in line with Colony’s way of anticipating someone’s needs (like where to park, what to eat), we can help with that.”
– Timothy Tiah, CEO of Colony
The daily round ended with Alan stopping by the cafe where he noticed a guest had a visitor with him, sitting with no beverage. I took Alan’s cue and passed him a water bottle, and as someone who usually doesn’t bother with other people’s business, I have to admit, that small gesture did feel rewarding in a way.
By the end of my “training”, I was exhausted, and it was only day 1.
After about a week of being a Community Manager, it definitely takes more work than it looks.
On the outside, it may not seem like much, but there are actually layers of tasks that the Community Managers have to complete on a day-to-day basis.
To keep themselves accountable, Alan shared that the team has a maintenance tracker system where the tasks included there have to be completed within 24 hours – as part of the ownership value that Colony prides themselves over.
People may think it’s easy to be in the hospitality scene, but it can get tough because the mental exhaustion is real. But to the Community Managers here, it’s worth it knowing that the guests leave the co-working space with a smile on their face after a genuine great experience working there.
“It may seem like just a job, but for us here at Colony, it feels more like a mission. Making sure our guests feel like they’re getting a 5-star experience everyday is a daily challenge, but it’s something I’m proud to say we’re accomplishing,” said Alan.
And that is something I can attest to.
This article is written in collaboration with Colony.