Riefqah Ismail, the Spier Hotel reservations manager, has been a part of our team for almost six years. The ardent rugby fan is inspired by our farm’s commitment to a sustainable future, as well its ability to make events so memorable for guests.
Tell us a bit about what your role entails.
My primary responsibility is to oversee our reservations team to ensure that guests’ needs are being met and that we provide the best reservation service possible. In addition to dealing daily with online travel agents, we also manage room blocks for large events and monitor billing arrangements.
How did you get to where you are today?
After school, I began studying towards a degree in Bachelor of Science Biotechnology. After three years of studying hard, I suddenly had a change of heart. Realising I wanted to work in hospitality, I enrolled at Damelin to study Travel and Tourism. My first job in this industry was as a sales and reservations agent for Lufthansa. After two years, I joined Southern Sun Hotels in 2006, where I served as
reservationist and then as an events coordinator. After a stint as Sun International’s GrandWest Casino as Conferencing Coordinator, I joined Spier in July 2013 as its Conference Sales Coordinator. I was appointed as the Spier Hotel’s Reservations Manager little more than a year later — a role I’ve been in to this day. I still love it!
What do you love most about your job?
I love reaching sales targets, and meeting our projected budgets.
What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?
People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers — so always try to be the most transparent, reliable and strongest leader you can be.
What advice do you have for someone trying to get into your line of work?
Don’t be afraid to work hard — including, sometimes, the weekends and public holidays. It’ll pay off!
What is your greatest strength?
I am brutally honest with a vicious sense of humour.
How do you make a positive difference to your community?
I donate to certain orphanages and charities in my community.
What inspires you?
When people I care about achieve their goals and dreams.
What do you get up to when you’re not at work?
I live and breathe rugby. When I am not at Newlands stadium watching my all-time favourite teams – The Stormers and Western Province — then I’m watching, Super Rugby, Pro14, the Currie Cup or even the Heineken Cup on TV. While doing this, I incorporate my second hobby of cooking. I love to cook old-school Malay foods such as breyanis and akhnis and bredies.
What’s the best thing about working at Spier?
I love contributing to an experience that will provide guests with really unforgettable memories. Playing a part in making the world environmentally safe and sustainable through our various sustainability programmes (such as recycling) is also really inspiring.
What makes conferences at Spier different?
Our Conferencing for Good package ensures that events held on the farm positively impact the environment and communities. For example: Spier invites delegates to donate their unused pens and notepads which we then distribute to underprivileged schools.
Where is your favourite part of the farm?
I love all things with a good story, and the Tree-preneurs nursery definitely has one! Here you’ll meet the vivacious Lesley Joemat, a Spier employee who has taught
What’s the key to being happy in life?
Live for today. Tomorrow will sort itself out. And leave the drama for Hollywood
What are you proudest of having achieved
Giving up smoking after 23 years — I’ve been nicotine free for 17 months. I’m also proud of my decision to become a bone marrow donor. I am officially registered on the South African Bone Marrow Register