AlumniGranting wishes as a Royal Genie

Granting wishes is a full time job for IHTTI Graduate Philip Shum! As a Royal Genie, Philip spends almost 6 months of the year on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship making every last wish come true for his guests.

So what exactly is a Royal Genie?

A Royal Genie is the ultimate insider, crafting exclusive one-of-a-kind experiences, all designed around the guest.

We are essentially a revamped concierge, with extensive empowerment for preferred seating for dining, show seating, shopping or any activity that can be done on board the cruise ship. Our biggest differentiation from a concierge is that we don't actually have a desk - we're very mobile and, instead of the guests finding us, we find them.

Royal Genie

I like to think of it as that guy that knows everyone on the boat and that can pull favours from anyone for our guests.

How did you become a Royal Genie?

The Star Class Programme (the programme that introduced the Royal Genie) only started out about 2.5 years ago. As soon as the programme came out, I became very close friends with one of the Genies, who explained the programme and convinced me that the role was perfect for my passion, experience and education.

The application process was very extensive and selective. Fortunately, being Swiss educated and having worked in various hospitality roles, during and before studying with IHTTI gave me an upper hand. Speaking different languages was also a plus. Usually, out of 50+ applicants, only about 2 will be chosen. I got lucky.

What is one of the most outlandish requests you have ever received?

I had a lovely couple that wanted to do something very special for their anniversary: they wanted private time on the helipad to watch the sunset on one of the sea days. Unfortunately, the captain did not approve of this request due to safety and security reasons -- but "no" is never an appropriate answer for me.

My alternative was to close off an entire deck on the forward part of the ship - the part that's right above the bridge (or the location where the ship officers navigate the ship), and set up a small round table for two, covered with white linen, chocolate covered strawberries, their favourite champagne, an anniversary gift and a hand written note.

20 mins on the deck by themselves = a lifetime memory.

I live for these moments!

What is it like to spend so much time on a cruise ship?

I think there is a general misconception that working on a cruise ship is a life of luxury and travel - it isn't. I average 10 hours a day for 5.5 months straight with no days off. My bed is slightly smaller than a twin bed. My room is slightly larger than my bed. And my bathroom is slightly larger than my closet - and is shared. (It's also a "privilege" to stay in one of these cabins.)

Despite long work hours (including additional emergency duties), and unfavourable living conditions – it has been a life-changing experience. I think this experience introduces you to a journey of hard work, dedication and continuous knowledge. My goal is to one day own my own hotel, and I feel that working on this cruise ship has definitely helped to mold my work ethic.

Working with crew members from more than 50 countries can also be very challenging but it has also contributed to an overall worldly working experience - and lifelong friendships.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

To be able to make a positive impact on someone's life! There's no greater joy than that!

Royal Genie

I think people take vacations to get away from their normal life - a life full of work, stress, social pressures. Whatever it is, someone takes a vacation to unwind and have a great time. Although people pay top dollar for the experience I craft for them, no one can put a price on my excitement and willingness to ensure that they've had a great time with me; you can't put a price on purpose.

The more people tell me that they've had an unforgettable time, the more I am reminded that my motivation to become a hotel owner is on the right track.

Why do you believe you are meant to work in hospitality?

To be honest, I don't think I had a choice.

Being born to naturally hospitable parents that own restaurants, really engrained an idea in me that my purpose is to serve and to make happy. I believe that life is too short to not enjoy it. And I think working in the hospitality industry is an opportunity to remind everyone else of that on a daily basis.

I try to constantly surround myself with positive people that are very considerate of other people and are willing to make that impact to those around them.

I do this because I understand that happiness is not something that one can just look for and find, but something that is resulted from being useful, being responsible, being compassionate, to matter and to stand for something.

These are the people that give me joy from their acts of service, their surprises, their consideration, so it's only my natural job to provide that to everyone around me.


Swiss Higher Diploma in International and Design Management

Philip Shum graduated in 2016 with a Swiss Higher Diploma (Hons) in International Hotel and Design Management from IHTTI School of Hotel Management

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