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Hospitality career tips

Exclusive live talk – Rob Cecconi from Tropica Island Resort

Rob Cecconi made quite an impression on the crowd at Typsy Live last year. Watch his live talk to hear about how he started Fiji's latest adults-only resort.

Rob Cecconi made quite an impression on the crowd at our event last year. In his loud island shirt, he burst onto the stage with a passionate story about opening Tropica Island Resort, Fiji's newest award-winning adults-only resort.

It's hard not to feel inspired when you hear what he has to say about building such a fun and popular place to stay. In his own words, it's all about how small things make the biggest difference; both with your guests and with your own people. 

Watch Rob's invigorating live talk now, and then read the interview below to hear more about his philosophy. 

The biggest part of your talk last year was that small gestures make a big impact on your business. What small gestures do you make at your resort?

We try to do things very, very differently to everyone else. When guests get on our boats and come to the island, all of our staff greet them with singing on the jetty. And we don’t do check-ins at reception; we do all of our check-ins in their rooms.

We spend our entire day working out how we can make people feel special and what little things that we can do for them. And we do them consistently. Because we’re only a 30 room hotel, it’s very easy to understand what people like and what they dislike. The guests don’t even know we’re doing it, but all of our staff are almost like detectives. They’re always listening for information, so if we hear that someone’s having a special celebration, for example, we can put them out on the jetty, and give them a private dining experience. We’ll put our serenaders down there with them and they’ll get their own personal butler for the night. 

That’s awesome. I think it’s rare to get such personal attention.

Personalization is everything. For instance, we had some returnees recently who came back for the fifth time. And they’re about 90-years-old this couple, they’re absolutely amazing. So in true Fijian style, we put them on what’s called a Billi Billi, which is essentially a raft.

We put chairs on it, and then we had our warriors carry them down into the resort and had a big ceremony for them. And they were just blown away. They loved it. So they’re the sorts of things we try and do for people all the time.

Another thing that you spoke about was the importance of having passion. Do you have any advice for hotel owners who might need a boost of passion?

For me, passion is everything. Enthusiasm is everything. Because it drives energy through your whole business. I think that you have to start your day with your staff looking at all the great things that are happening in your business, and then talk about them all day. It helps your staff become more enthusiastic about what they’re doing.

But the one thing that’s really, really important for us is that we only hire passionate people. Simple as that. There are places for people who aren’t passionate and enthusiastic, and that’s okay, but it’s not at Tropica. That’s a core value of ours, and we hire around our core values. I think that if you actually look for passionate people, then your organization cannot help but be a passionate and enthusiastic organization.

Let’s jump into Typsy Live as an event for a second. How did you find the night?

I found it magnificent. I thought that your team put on a brilliant event where the speakers were brilliant in their own way. They provided really good, solid information that people could actually use tomorrow, you know what I mean? Not information that people can’t do anything with once they leave. It’s all about learning and growing, and Typsy lets people learn and grow.

Our theme this year is innovation. What does innovation mean to you?

Do something new, do something different. Break the rules. Do the opposite of what everyone else does. Innovation to me is about having a culture of traction all the time, where you’re not scared to actually challenge what’s normal in the business. It’s not about invention; it’s just the way that you deliver things so that people really stand up and take notice. That’s what we’re constantly trying to do.


Hear from other inspiring hospitality speakers at the next Typsy Live, which takes place on October 5th at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney. The theme is 'Hospitality Innovation'. You can find out more about the event here.


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