General Manager of the brand new Mercure Leeds Centre hotel, Ruslana Yarmolyuk, speaks to H&E North about her varied career and life in Leeds.
Nice to meet you, Ruslana. Can you give us a little information on your career background?
I am a professional teacher (qualified in Ukraine, teaching Russian language and literature in secondary school) as well as a qualified accountant. These skills have greatly contributed to my current managerial role as I am able to read financial reports effectively and create impactful training sessions for my staff members.
I began my career in the hotel industry over 10 years ago as Guest Services Manager for Holiday Inn Express in Stevenage and gained experience in several hotels including; Premier Inn in Beckton, The Forum Banqueting & Conference Suites, Ibis Stevenage Hotel, and as General Manager at the Novotel in Stevenage. I have also been Treasurer of Hertfordshire Hoteliers Association from 2011 until 2016. My role was to handle the day-to-day transactions, monthly board reports and the setting of yearly budgets. I was also responsible for the social media aspects of the association, helping them to promote the brand and properties within the membership.
Any stand-out career moments so far?
Being part of the new Mercure Leeds Centre from the beginning has certainly been a career highlight for me. As well as creating relationships with surrounding businesses and potential new guests, I now also have the responsibility to build the future of the business, make key investment decisions, and support the development of a healthy internal culture for my team.
Describe a typical day at work.
Every day at work presents a challenge because there is always so much to do in such little time. Therefore, it is imperative that you stick to a tight time schedule and work together as a team to ensure everything runs smoothly.
My typical day includes a busy breakfast service with all the team, pitching in to clear the tables and help pour the coffee. I will be in and out of the restaurant to oversee the front desk and greet our guests. We then spend 10 minutes participating in the team huddle, which encourages the team to communicate any upcoming activities or challenges for the day ahead. My day will include managing market demand, rate planning, sales calls, chasing accounts for payments, building forecasts, planning for any training or staff meetings, as well as dealing with guest feedback and replying to endless emails. There are also internal audits to ensure that hotel policies are being followed and standards maintained; room checks, payroll/holiday query, SPM, job chats – the list goes on!
From 6pm onwards, I can be found front of house, engaging with the guests to ensure we make a great first impression, and they receive an efficient check-in.
What made you move up north?
The idea of opening a new hotel really excited me and I felt I was ready for a new challenge.
I wanted to move to a big city centre hotel where I could utilise my skills of revenue management and networking most effectively. I think changing to a new position within the industry forces you to learn new skills, which I am confident will make me a more well-rounded and capable professional hotelier.
What can corporate business travellers expect at the new hotel?
Corporate business travellers have focused much greater value on service levels in recent years, which is something we strive for at Mercure Leeds Centre. Also, a recognition program such as Le Club AccorHotels loyalty programme is extremely important. Although the company pays for the corporate stay, individual members gaining points can then stay for free in all AccorHotels using their points with their family or leisure stays. This means we can offer them even more of a personalised experience outside their working environment.
From a technology perspective, corporates are desperate for smarter and more efficient booking tools. They are looking for seamless integrations and mobile travel experiences that will allow companies to support their business travellers on the road. We are proud to offer an online check-in and check-out experience, as well as the ability to use their mobile phone to access their room. In addition, we offer automatic e-billing as soon as the guest checks out of the hotel which makes expense claims as easy and stress-free as possible.
Why is Leeds city centre such a good location for corporate events?
Leeds is a vibrant, compact city centre that is easily accessible by foot. We are in the buzz of the city centre but located on a quiet road, so we guarantee all our hotel guests will have a quiet and peaceful stay.
As well as an abundance of shops, Leeds is home to a wealth of museums including Leeds Art Gallery, The Tetley, The Henry Moore Institute, Thackray Medical Museum and Leeds City Museum, which explores millions of years of history from Egyptians to the Romans and beyond. The city also has its own repertory theatre which is home to the finest opera and ballet productions. There’s so much to enjoy from vibrant and diverse culture, great art, music and world-class events, as well as a thriving food and drink scene. Leeds is famous for its stunning architecture, lots of Victorian arcades and historical gems and the magnificent Victoria Quarter, so there really is something for everyone.
To book your stay, visit Accorhotels.com.
Mercure Leeds Centre
23-25 York Place