The Intercontinental Hotel Malta is one of Malta’s top 5-star hotels. It is also one of the largest with the recent extension giving it a capacity of currently 451 rooms and after the project completion over 480 guest rooms. We spoke to Hotel Manager Mr Lior Bebera to tell us about his life in the hospitality industry.
- Who is Lior Bebera?
Lior Bebera is the Hotel Manager of the Intercontinental Hotel Malta. “I am born to parents with diplomatic roots. My parents were born in Georgia. My father’s first big diplomatic post took him to Israel and that is where I was born. We left Israel when I was 4 years old and was raised in Germany where I completed my education and started on the road to working in the hospitality Industry. I have worked in various hotels and roles and was also the owner of my own business for almost 3 years but decided to move on as it was not what I saw myself doing long term. I am a versatile person who loves to travel and work with people. I am very outgoing and enjoy the life the hospitality industry has to offer. My career has taken me around the world travelling and working in different management roles. I have worked in the USA, which unfortunately was short lived due to the situation created by 9/11. Tel Aviv followed by London, Kiev and now Malta. I have had some amazing experiences including managing one of the residential buildings for athletes during the Olympics and Paralympics in London 2012.
All my posts have been exciting and challenging for different reasons; however this has led to a lot of personal growth and a huge learning experience”
- How long have you been in the industry and more specifically at the Intercontinental Hotel Group?
“I have been in the industry from a very young age having had my first experience at age 16. At age 21 I had my first managerial role as Front Office Manager. It is has been a build up since then. I have been with IHG and particularly with the InterContinental brand for over 10 years, including a Head Office role as Operations Support Manager for Europe, and am in Malta since January 2015”.
- What led you to choose a career in the hotel sector?
“At age 16 in Germany you do tests at school to help you choose a career path, these clearly indicated to me that hospitality was where I wanted to be and what I was best suited for. At that age I had to do an apprenticeship and I chose to do mine in a hotel. It wasn’t easy as I did the lower jobs and it was hard work, but I liked it. It also taught me to respect the work of others who make the experience for guests at the hotel. The manager there was an inspiration and I knew one day I wanted his job. That first experience led me to understand the importance of everybody in the hospitality industry and where I wanted to be, it was an atmosphere I thoroughly enjoyed. I applied to hotels soon after my A levels and after a rocky start where I moved to Berlin and ended up in sales as I couldn’t get into a hotel at first; I finally got the opportunity to start my career at the InterContinental Berlin, where my IHG career began.
I also studied and did my MBA with a focus on hospitality management”.
- What do you like about the Industry especially hospitality?
“I like the fact that it is flexible and that it allows me the choice of where to work in the future. I also like that it is very people oriented. I like to spend the larger percentage of my time with people. Being able to communicate with them in different languages is a personal passion of mine. Being with guests, colleagues and stakeholders I deal with”.
- How is the Malta experience turning out to be?
“It is a great journey as the hotel is gigantic and that alone presents a challenge to manage. Having closed for refurbishment and construction of new areas we lost a lot of strong colleagues. Recruiting some 300 employees has been a challenge all of its own. With all the new things coming up it is also a very exciting experience, there is the new Club Intercontinental Lounge to open, the new suites, the casino and the Holiday Inn Express is on its way too”.
- What is a typical day?
“I get to work at around 7.30 the time before guests are waking up, I go round on a house tour to the kitchen first of all and talk to the staff because staff engagement is important. I see if everything is ok. I prepare for the day and ask them about the night before and if there is anything I should know. I than go to the front of house at reception; I start my day by interacting with the front liners. I than go to the breakfast area to see everything is ok; things start to pick up at around 8 or so. I do a round of safety checks to see that everything is in place. I than go up to the pool area to see that all necessary signage and notices are there. It is really preventative management. I spend time talking to people, both staff and guests who I meet. At 8.45 I go up to my office and prepare myself for the morning meeting with all the guest experience notes from the day before, our guest survey is called Heartbeat and I check the comments and bring these up to the Head of Departments meeting. I also have a number of reports on my desk including the arrivals of the day, it’s important to follow any VIPs, politicians or IHG staff staying with us. Each Head of Department takes it in turn to make their daily presentation. We discuss problems and issues that arose and what will be going on in the hotel on the day to ensure hotel operation is smooth in every way. The meeting is about 30 minutes long. From 10 you are wherever you need to be, be it in meetings, or with guests. It is all about relationships, be it with colleagues guests, suppliers or partners. You monitor any events, meet the owners and occasionally host some high profile guests from diverse industries. I usually leave the hotel around 8 pm”.
- Does the job affect your personal life?
“A lot positively. If you are a hotelier you have to love what you do. It is not a job to do your 7 or 8 hours of work and just go home, especially if you want to grow within the company. It’s not that you have to work 15 hours a day, but you have to be here as long as you need to be. I have full freedom of deciding how long I can work but it does influence it because my life is built on the fact that I am a hotelier. For example I know that every 2 to 3 years I move around and if you asked me where my home is I couldn’t give you an answer. My home is where my heart is. Malta is my home now”.
- What would you say to any student looking to work in the tourism industry?
“I will be very honest, frank and straight forward, and tell them that in joining the hospitality industry you will work very hard. There will be days where you will be frustrated and work until your limits and there will be days where you will enjoy and love what you are doing. It’s like a marriage, you will have difficult days, but if you love it you will respect it and enjoy it and have fun. You need to be passionate and patient and if you really want to make it in hospitality I haven’t seen a single person fail to achieve what they wanted. I say this from experience; those who want to make a career in hospitality and the tourism industry with a passion can make it. It is a give and take, you have to commit and contribute and be there. I would prefer to hire somebody with the right attitude, who is passionate and ambitious rather than somebody who has just studied and wants to join the hotel management straight from “school”.