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Being A Master In The Field: Uğur Talayhan

Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul General Manager and Accor Regional Vice President of Luxury Brands Uğur Talayhan is truly the jack of all trades. Talayhan, started his professional life as a young chef, and has had numerous achievements in the United Kingdom, Dubai, Portugal, and China in his 27-year-long career.

You have experience in almost all aspects of tourism and hospitality industries. Your career really is a success story. To what do you owe your success?

The short answer would be hard work. When I was in middle school, I would work in kitchens in summer. Seeing how the food I cook made people happy was a big motivation for me. “I need to do something that makes people happy,” I thought to myself. I made my plans accordingly and worked at different positions in various countries. So, I think the biggest secret to success is to work hard, make the effort, and gain experience.

After spending all those years abroad, how did you decide to come back to Turkey?

I always thought about coming back to Turkey one day. I never thought about leaving for good. It was my goal to return to Turkey with Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul. The hotel made it very easy for me to decide thanks to its location, reputation, and its special place in my heart.

How was your industry influenced by the changes we are experiencing? What kind of a strategy did you devise to adapt to the new normal?

In terms of economy, hospitality is one of the industries that was deeply affected by the global pandemic. The occupancy rates have dropped by 80 percent, and we had to close our restaurants and health club due to the public mandate. However, as of June when the restaurants and health clubs reopened, there has been an increase in “staycation” packages, which are basically going on a vacation in the city. We also had tourists from certain countries such as Russia and Germany. So, we’ve seen a rise in hotel occupancy rates. Turkey is doing much better than Europe; we’ve seen the positive influence of administrative decisions and measures at hotels.

Your professional goal is to offer guests a unique accommodation and holiday experience. What makes a vacation unforgettable for you?

I love traveling and learning about new cultures. I also have to travel frequently due to my job. I worked in the Far East for many years and feel very close to that geography. It makes me feel peaceful every time I visit it. One of the things that make a vacation unforgettable for me is to leave that place with fond memories and a smile on my face. This is usually based on the quality of service and hospitality at the hotel I’m staying at. With the advancement of technology, we work almost 24/7.

In fact, my ideal vacation would be filled with sun, sea, and sand in a place that is tech-free and where I can listen to the sounds of nature for a couple of days. I’d love to be in a place like that right now.

What would you recommend to young people who wish to build a career in the tourism and hospitality industries?

Firstly, I’d like to emphasize the importance of internships. It will be their first opportunity to implement the theoretical knowledge they learn at school. It’s best to do an internship in multiple and varied places. They also need to love what they do. If you love your job, no obstacle or problem can steer you away from your path. Be prepared to work hard and, no matter what happens, never stop smiling and thinking positive.

Do you have a immutable rule in your professional life? Can you tell us about your core principles?

For me, a positive attitude and good humour are essential parts of doing business. I’m tolerant of any kinds of mistakes and errors; however, it’s crucial for me to work with people who are solution-oriented, have a positive approach to their work, and can see the bigger picture.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from your years in the kitchen? How did you implement them in your professional life?

When I started this profession, there was a master-apprentice relationship. Masters would teach and we would listen. This taught me to be a good listener. I believe listening is as significant as talking. Working in the kitchen also taught me about respect, discipline, hard work, and being a team member. I learned how to work under pressure. I still use all the lessons I learned back than.




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