Jake Whitney - Guiding the Future Hotel Leaders

Jake Whitney has been someone the hotel industry has kept their eyes on. Talented, ambitious and hardworking, his journey has included many great properties some being IHG, Rydges and TFE Hotels even working at the legendary Saffire Freycinet in Tasmania (voted many times as Australia's number one luxury lodge).

As a fantastic leader, naturally as the way hospitality goes, opportunities present themselves and Jake found himself now guiding the future hotel leaders and showcasing Torrens Universities courses to school leavers.

I was really happy being able to interview Jake about his journey, his new role and about his take on the hospitality industry. So keep reading to see how your hotel journey can turn out and how you can also become a great hospitality leader.

So Jake, can you tell us a little more about what you do as your role?

Currently, I am part of the domestic field sales Secondary Schools team at Torrens University Australia.

I am the go-to contact for Secondary Schools in Victoria while working with a national sales team. We present to school leavers what courses and careers are available. I think it’s amazing being able to relate to students as a Blue Mountains (BMIHMS) alumnus and impact lives on a positive scale.

- Working in this sector of hospitality is something that people may not consider when looking into the industry, however making the move and side stepping has proved that sometimes leaving the guests and main hotel operations sector can be incredibly rewarding - Tayla

Jake, What made you fall in love with hospitality?

Well, before my first customer facing job, I was studying vehicle mechanics (goes to show that plans naturally change) and I was always curious what it’s like ‘behind the scenes’ when my family would visit hotels or hospitality venues. What really got me was what I could do to enhance an experience. How can I make someone’s day brighter - we never know what someone else is going through so it’s important to always attempt to overwhelm on service delivery.

Do you feel corona has affected your outlook on the industry? Has it changed the way you feel about hotels in general?

Like most of us hospitality and tourism enthusiasts, making memorable guest experiences regardless of my role or title will always be close to my heart. Corona had obviously impacted a strong and resilient industry, but as many of us can see, hotels have been the forefront to the international arrival process. Now you can see that the demand is growing as Australia begins to open and I hope with all my heart, the world follows with great results.

- The tourism industry was hit greatly during Covid, but as Jake says it truly is a resiliant industry that those who work in it will always find their way back to it. - Tayla

What is the biggest challenge in your career you have had to face?

I’ll admit that there was a point after graduating university where I felt lost. I wanted to leave hospitality, I wanted to stay, I wanted a promotion, I wanted money, I wanted travel. I wanted to be home with family. I feel the greatest thing I’ve learnt from this hiccup is explore your options and experiment with what you’re given.

- I felt the same after I graduated, a lot of people go through this period of, oh I am finished now I actually have to go out into the world and be a leader like they said we would be while studying. I think sometimes it's easy to get pulled in so many different directions looking for the role that will be the best title or best pay. once you get past it you start figuring out your own goals and how you actually want to fit into the industry, and you come back to realising that people are your main focus, not the title or money. - Tayla

How do you feel your personal qualities changed while working at your previous hotels and especially Saffire?

I learnt so much from my first Receptionist role thanks to the team at TFE’s Travelodge Southbank in Melbourne. From there, my passion blossomed.

Tayla, even while studying at our amazing Hotel Management School, I never did think I’d be part of an internationally recognised and multi-award winning luxury lodge (which had changed my perspective on hospitality and tourism).

Saffire Freycinet rescued me from leaving hospitality and allowed me to discover authentic genuine service at a high-end level. Dealing with guests is an art and involves strategy in some cases - which was a massive learning curve for me from Saffire Freycinet. Of course, I commend and sincerely thank every single hotel chain I’ve worked with, as each of them ranging from IHG, Rydges and TFE Hotels who’s teams have taught me something unique and have all played a role in creating the young and growing professional I am today.

If you could work at any property in the world where would it be

I have always had my eye on luxury hotel brand, The Beverly Hills Hotel within the Dorchester Collection.

Having moved more into the career advising and higher education sales sector, how did you feel making the change and how are you going so far?

I am loving my current role as I’m able to guide current school students and school leavers in the right direction to embark on a journey that suits them. A massive side step from hotel operations, but I know that every decision I make is one that allows me to discover something new about myself (that sounds cliché, but it’s important to self-reflect)

- I think one of the most important parts of being in the hospitality inudstry is that every role you take on, you change your outlook and yeah you always learn how to imrpove yourself. For future hotel leaders, just remember that every single role has so many personal qualities that you will learn while being in them. So while you may be working your way up remember that if you're in housekeeping, front office or wherever and your goal is general manager or Human Resources or like Jake, I promise yo