Australian volunteer Andrew Whittaker is currently on a public relations-focused AVID assignment with a Cambodian NGO Live & Learn Environmental Education. Arriving at his Phnom Penh Hotel ‘One Up Banana’ Andrew was pleasantly surprised to meet Arun, who he knew from a previous volunteering assignment in 2011.
“I first met Arun when I was on an assignment at the Boddhi Tree Hospitality Group in Phnom Penh. He was a member of staff doing a range of different jobs at the three guesthouses run by Boddhi Tree.”
Andrew, who has 40 years’ experience in the sport, leisure and facility management industry, had helped train Boddhi Tree staff in business administration, human resources and quality service.
“Arun had been security guard, moto-driver and waiter, but I could see he was keen to learn and was always looking for ways to improve his knowledge,” says Andrew.
In 2012 Arun left Boddhi Tree and began working at One Up Banana, a small hotel which had just been established in the popular tourist area of BKK1. He was front desk manager at first, but within a year was promoted to General Manager. Unfortunately Boddhi Tree closed down, but this provided an opportunity for Arun who was able to re-hire Boddhi Tree staff at One Up Banana. They were well trained and it was easy to develop a team spirit with a strong emphasis on customer service.
One Up Banana has won many awards on the tourist websites Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Hotels.com – a reflection of the high standards that have been set by the staff. It is March 2016 the number 1 B&B in Phnom Penh on Trip Advisor out of 317 properties, and is in the top 25 B&Bs in Cambodia.
The success of Arun and other former Boddhi Tree staff is testament to the quality of the training they received, and shows that skills training can have a long-term impact. According to Andrew, “I can’t take credit for their accomplishments—that’s down to their work ethic and their keenness to learn—but it’s great to see people who you’ve helped train doing so well.”