Tanya Larke, our Reservations & Events Manager has been part of the Spier team for just over a year. A big fan of our farm’s beautiful outdoor spaces, she shares some of the ways our hotel and conferencing operations have adapted to ensure the safety and wellbeing of guests during the pandemic.
How did you get into your line of work?
There used to be a hotel school advert on the second page of our daily newspaper that intrigued me, and I liked the idea of hospitality. I ended up going to that hotel school!
What does your job entail?
My job is to guide and support the teams running hotel reservations and coordinating conferences and events. I also liaise closely with our sales team to help convert enquiries into bookings, as well as with our revenue team to ensure we achieve budget and have the best rates available for our guests.
What do you love most about your job?
I love closing deals and knowing all our efforts and time we’ve invested have paid off! It is also very rewarding getting great feedback from guests— it boosts the team’s confidence and just re-assures them that they are doing a fantastic job!
How has COVID-19 impacted things?
We are very fortunate to continue working from home. It is just a change of scenery, but business as usual. Events and conferencing at Spier has continued within the government regulations. We quickly made some adjustments to comply with all the protocols, making sure everyone is safe during events. Clients have been very impressed with our innovative thinking.
On the farm, this meant an increased use of airy outdoor spaces (for example, in the courtyard, or the Spier Hotel Restaurant terrace); in some instances we put up tents. We always made sure tables were spaced well apart. With restrictions in place limiting the numbers of event attendees, we’ve been able to reach greater numbers through our new hybrid and virtual conference solution. Participants were able to join events from the comfort of their own homes, with livestreams, breakout rooms and even remote wine tastings all part of the experience.
Which of these changes do you think are likely to persist beyond the pandemic?
We implemented online check-ins and we will expand on this to make direct guest communication and a personalised stay effortless. We have realized during this pandemic that there really are no boundaries — we have done things we have never thought we could or thought was possible... the sky's the limit!
What’s your favourite thing about Spier?
Most definitely the scenery, our gardens, open spaces, walking trails and that there are so many activities to do on one spot. And the Spier MCC!
What makes conferences at Spier different?
Our versatile and characterful venues don’t feel like conventional conference spaces. The personal touches of our team, catering for almost every need and request, makes all the difference.
How do you make a positive difference to your community?
My goal is to use services and products in our local community, whether it is at work (i.e. buying produce from the farm) or using local suppliers for household items or services we might need.
What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?
Do not spend your energy on the things you cannot control; put your focus on the things that you have control over and make the best of it.
This quote by Joshua J. Marine is special to me: “Challenges are what make life interesting, overcoming them makes life meaningful.”
Who or what inspires you?
The COVID-19 pandemic made me realise that my health is essential and that my focus for 2021 is to get back on track. COVID also brought a new friend on my path who is a true inspiration when it comes to health and fitness and encourages me above and beyond to stick to my goals. Secondly, my two girls remind me to appreciate the simple things in life.
What do you get up to when you’re not at work?
I enjoy cooking supper in the evening, it helps me to unwind after a day of work. Playing with our girls, taking a hike up the mountain (super early, when the air is still fresh and clean and you can hear the birds) and on occasion, I appreciate a treat at the Spier Spa.
Who or what makes you laugh?
Very corny, but my kids, they are most definitely born entertainers… Super unlike me, who has a very dry sense of humour!
Where is your favourite part of the farm, and why is it your favourite?
Songsmith, Spier’s installation featuring singing stones, fascinates me, and I can spend a good amount of time making music there. The owls at Eagle Encounters are super adorable too!
What’s the key to being happy in life?
I believe the key to happiness is to have a good and balanced mental health. If your mind is tired and in a dark space, it is challenging to see the good in life.