In June 2016, Trine Oestergaard was appointed Managing Director of House of Fisher. Trine brings over 20 years of experience within the leisure and service industry, starting with an internship in Aruba! Today we have interviewed Trine to gain an insight into the person behind the position…
1 / Q. You were originally born in Denmark, when and what motivated you to make the UK your home?
A. I was a foreign exchange student as a teenager and spent a year in Las Vegas which got me interested in the hotel world and customer services, so much so that I decided to do a degree from a hotel management school in Switzerland, which then led me to London’s 5 star hospitality industry back in the 1990s. London is a very addictive city and I just never left! Now it’s my home and I don’t see myself leaving.
2 / Q. What is your vision for the company?
A. We have spent the last year improving policies, training and development, re-structuring the teams, creating a good solid foundation for our business. We are in a strong position now to sensibly increase our portfolio and to actively look at new locations and general growth. We now operate in 13 locations with close to 200 apartments and look to grow this in the future.
3 / Q. What do you feel you bring to House of Fisher?
A. I was with another provider for nearly 10 years and joined at a time when they were rapidly developing, which suited me as I gained a lot of experience dealing with an international company, multiple sites, formalising/implementing procedures and maximising revenue. At House of Fisher, as Managing Director, I have the freedom to exercise my creativity and have the flexibility to try out and implement new ideas, which has had a positive effect.
4 / Q. Managing a diverse team at The House of Fisher, how do you keep your team enthusiastic and motivated?
A. This is such a positive feature about the teams at House of Fisher, they are young and eager to learn more and develop in their roles. I think the key is to keep challenging them with new tasks by empowering them, making sure we mentor and train each individual and in general involve them through meetings and open communication lines. We have also been able to promote through the ranks, which is incredibly motivating and rewarding.
5 / Q. You previously undertook the role of House of Fisher Operations Director for 11 months, do you feel this experience has helped as Managing Director?
A. It’s been great to have the time to learn everything about the operational side of the business first, concentrating on getting to know the teams really well, understanding our procedures and hearing about the struggles, but also getting to know our properties in detail. The MD role has been an extension of this, incorporating the rest of the teams within our Head Office and combining the two sides of the business.
6 / Q. Over your twenty years within the industry what changes have you seen?
A. The Serviced Apartment industry has evolved so much in the UK and has become a real player when offering accommodation to both the leisure and the corporate market. The way and the need of the modern traveller has evolved. Guests expect the same amenities as they have in their own homes, i.e. high speed Wi-Fi or Sky TV package, and booking at the push of one button. We have to meet the demands of each individual guest and make it easy for them to do business with us.
7 / Q. We are seeing a growing trend where serviced apartments are becoming more and more popular with leisure travellers. Do you expect this to continue?
A. It’s the concept of a home away from home, and why rent a hotel room when you can have a whole apartment for the same price or better! You can see it by the increased members in the ASAP association, more locations nationally and the success of someone like Airbnb. Everyone is looking for value for money and flexibility. I’m seeing more and more leisure travellers using apartments, where it was predominantly used by corporate travellers. The industry still has a way to go with regards to regulations and standards, but the ASAP association is doing a great job on these points. Absolutely, I believe this industry will continue to grow.
8 / Q. What has been your proudest achievement since becoming Managing Director of House of Fisher?
A. I’m particularly proud of writing our first ASAP award submission which was shortlisted for our first ever award for Best Team. We have implemented so many improvements like staff socials which focus on bringing different departments together and taking down internal walls. And I have had the opportunity to promote a handful of staff who are now running their own teams, and doing so really well.
9 / Q. When you aren’t managing House of Fisher, what are you likely to be doing?
A. I find gardening really relaxing, therapeutic and it clears my head! Unfortunately that does make me sound very middle aged! But I also love to travel when I can, Mexico this year, Thailand next year. And I have been known to enjoy a few glasses of red wine at the Roebuck overlooking the river Thames in Richmond!
10 / Q. What type of managerial style do you undertake with your team?
A. I have seen so many different styles of management over the years, and realise that people don’t leave companies they generally leave managers. I’m conscience about being there for my staff, I always have time for them. I want an open and honest environment. I want them involved, to share information and create ideas. We have broken down internal walls and made the word ‘team’ very important – we break records together. I do like fun and like to have a cheerful atmosphere, and have been known to send around the odd silly joke. But most importantly, I say ‘thank you, well done’ a lot and it’s well-deserved every time.
11 / Q. If you could invent one gadget to go into each of your serviced apartments, what would it do?
A. Something that would turn off lights and TVs etc. when not used. Even with keycard controlled lights etc., guests tend to leave these on and it’s a complete waste of energy and cost, it gets me every time.
12 / Q. Which is your favourite Serviced Apartment that you offer and why?
A. There are a few, I like Central Gate in Newbury best as a location. It’s our brand new Apart-hotel and we have gone for a stylish new look which is very contemporary. Newbury is a cute market town that I’m fairly new to, which has some great shops and the Newbury race course. Tamesis is another property which will be fantastic in a few months. We are doing a full refurbishment there with T A Fisher and the units will be very contemporary with terraces, located right in Caversham, Reading, looking on to green fields by the river. Our newly added units to City Wall House, Reading are also very nice and come with air conditioning, my favourite being no 503 which is slightly quirky, very modern with a slightly different colour scheme of grey and mustard.
13 / Q. How are you finding ‘relocating’ to the Thames Valley area from London?
A. I admit I was new to the area, but have soon realised that it’s a very vibrant area. It’s the hotbed for IT companies, arguably called the Silicon Valley. Cross Rail coming into cities like Maidenhead and Reading will benefit the area tremendously and connect the Thames Valley with London, especially Heathrow in no time.