Name: Adam Taloni
Position title: General Manager
Company name: Ovolo Woolloomooloo
When and why did you join the industry?
I joined the industry in 1996. It was the year after I finished High School and hospitality is all I ever wanted to do (well, first choice was to be a Hollywood actor). I worked 3 jobs whilst studying at Ryde TAFE. I remember at the time reading an article (maybe similar to this) about the then GM at the Park Hyatt Sydney, saying he started his career as a ‘glassie’ in a pub – that is what I was. I knew then that was going to be my career trajectory.
What do you like most about your job?
That every day is different. I get bored easily, so to be in such a fast-paced industry, working for a brand that is always changing/updating/evolving, I couldn’t ask for more.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
Besides the success that Ovolo Woolloomooloo WILL be after the renovation is totally complete; I would have to say opening a hotel on the Gold Coast 6 years ago and getting to Number One in Australia on trip Advisor, and staying there for 6 months.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
‘It’s lonely at the top’- a former GM at a large hotel I was Operations Manager at told me that and it’s true. I guess knowing that early on helped me prepare to be in this position. Being a people person it is something that I would have otherwise have struggled with once I got there.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
My boss, Ovolo Hotels COO, Dirk Dalichau. He has pushed me to go outside my comfort zone which has been fantastic. Having previously worked for the 2 biggest hotel chains in Australia, we are conditioned to do things in a certain way but he will always ask me ‘why?’. Often times it was hard to answer as there was no real justification. To work for Ovolo you need to think outside the box. You cannot be disrupters; industry leaders, if you just apply the same basic hotel principles that we have used in Australia for decades.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
Expect the unexpected! Who else gives you FREE High Speed Wi Fi for unlimited devices; free Mini Bar; Free breakfast; Free Happy Hour (2 hours); Apple TV’s in all rooms; free all-day snacks and coffee; free 24 hour gym access; free 24 hour laundry; free flexible late check-outs? All these items in the past I have begrudgingly had to ‘up-sell’ to guests at a cost with other brands. Ovolo has one mission for guests – to provide an effortless stay. With all these inclusions, our guests are blown away by all of these inclusions.
Guests can also expect to not see what they see in traditional hotels. We do not have uniforms as such for example and we also don’t have an attitude. Our ‘shiny happy staff all around’ philosophy is encouraged and promoted to give our guests a relaxed, fun, friendly yet professional service experience.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Travel is my weakness, I generally have 2 overseas holidays a year. I did a 1 month camping safari in southern Africa when I was 23. I would love to go back and do another safari further north – but this time not in a tent I need to put up and take down every day – I am too old for that now, it has to be a ‘glamping’ safari.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
Europe in 2014 – I was blown away by Spain (Barcelona). It was never on my ‘to do’ list but we found ourselves there for 10 days and I loved it. The city was amazing, and then 7 days by the sea in Sitges was so relaxing and fun. Along with that was the Emirates A380 First Class flight from Barcelona to Dubai – amazing!
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
- Sleeping tablets
- Gym gear (I like to work out so I can then over-indulge daily and not feel guilty)
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
I have had the opportunity to get to know Kelly Osborne of late. She is so delightful and so hilarious. I think I would want her to come on my African Safari, though the caveat is that her assistant Whitney has to come. The three of us together would be non-stop laughter and shenanigans.
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
I think as the disrupters that Ovolo are, the next 5 years are taking shape with what we have recently launched into the Australian market. In a very short time the industry has become VERY interested in what we are doing, as well as travellers. I believe the ‘effortless’ all-inclusive concept will spread. Maybe not to the extent of the Ovolo model, but there are hotels out there that still charge extra for Wi Fi. And the speeds are terrible. I can’t see that being tolerated too much longer. I do believe people are prepared to pay a little bit more generally speaking at a 4-5 star level if they get perceived value.
Ten years is a little harder to say. It will be technology driven, but I don’t think anyone can predict exactly how or what impact it will have on the industry. 10 years ago we didn’t even have iPhones. Who knows what is next, or how the industry will adapt to implement whatever it may be.