Andrea Bischeri is one of the linchpins of this 5-star hotel in Florence. He checks every accounting and fiscal detail with inflexible precision, and he’s a vital cog in the organisational and management machinery. But for him the hotel is much more than a workplace: after career spanning 36 years, it really has become a second family.
Do you remember your first day at the Bernini Palace?
Of course, it was April 16 1986. The hotel was re-opening after restructuring work begun in 1983. With my new colleagues I got to work to put everything in place to inaugurate the new experience, launched with the support of the Grand Hotel Baglioni in Florence. The official opening took place the following month, on May 10 or thereabouts.
I consider July 1 2010 a second “first day” at the Bernini, because it’s the date that marked the passage to the present ownership, Duetorrihotels. The manager at the time had introduced me to the director general, Signor Vanetti, a few weeks earlier, while I already knew my colleagues at the hotels in Bologna and Verona. We adapted our system to that of the group, and I have to say that thinks worked out swimmingly.
What does managing the administrative side of a small world like that of hotel, between international guests and all the in-house resources, entail?
Being part of a team means all having the same objective, and ours is to ensure that the client receives the utmost attention. This also applies to people like me who act behind the scenes. It’s also thanks to the administrative side that the complex organisational machine is well-oiled and everything runs smoothly. We have to be prepared for every eventuality, to identify and recruit the people needed by our various department heads and our manager. This is why collaboration and communication are indispensable for the hotel to work well. If one ingredient is missing from the recipe, you can tell.
How would you describe your typical day?
I enter the hotel in the morning, before half past seven, and start dealing with the various tasks that follow one another in the course of the day. I verify the documentation forwarded from the reception area and the bank, and I check commissions, invoices, delivery notes, prices and so on. I prepare the wage packets, I analyse costs, I comb through every detail, every expense item. My colleagues and I prepare the documentation to send to General Management. And if the storeman isn’t in, I replace him. Everything has to be perfectly organised, by client, by supplier and by year.
What advice would you give to all those who do your job but have never worked in a hotel?
Arguably the most distinctive aspect is dealing with employment contracts. At the hotel we have white- and blue-collar workers at every existing level and in many different sectors. They work in catering, maintenance, supplies, cleaning, administration and so on. We have dealings with a variety of employees that is much superior to that in a factory, say. Not to mention the recruiting of extra personnel in peak periods and during the holidays. It takes more time and experience to learn to handle this side of the job fluidly and find one’s way through the tangle of red tape.
What’s your favourite memory since you arrived at Bernini Palace?
I remember my first contact with the Company Management with great pleasure. Becoming part of a solid, strong group helped us a great deal in such a delicate moment of transition. I also have fantastic memories of my colleagues’ kids. We spend so much time together that we have become a sort of family that is growing up all the time. We celebrate births and scholastic achievements and events close to our hearts all together. Many people have worked here for decades and we know each other very well. So we create strong bonds.