Sarah Waapu

Sarah Waapu

Reservations Manager, Pullman Auckland
Bachelor of International Hospitality Management in Tourism

Ngāti Kahungunu

She is excited about the opportunities the hospitality industry offers, says Sarah Waapu who completed a Bachelor of International Hospitality Management in Tourism.

“The hospitality market is always growing and with all the new hotels developing in Auckland, there are so many opportunities coming our way and we need to be able to put our best foot forward. AUT has helped me do that.

“I came away from my studies at AUT with a better understanding, a motivation to put theory into practice and to do better when it comes to providing the best service possible.”

The skills to succeed
There were many highlights throughout her studies, Sarah says.

“I really enjoyed the final year, and developing my knowledge further to assist me in becoming a manager in the future. I enjoyed meeting new people and working on group projects because it enabled collaboration, and being part of a team meant that were all on the same page and the same journey.”

The workplace experience in her final year was one of the standouts for her.

“During my workplace experience at Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, I was able to put all my theoretical knowledge into practice doing something I love – working with people and providing memorable experiences.

“I learned what true five-star luxury service is and what providing truly genuine and authentic service meant – which in the end is just being yourself, your real self, because you can’t fake genuine service.”

Creating memorable experiences
After graduating at the end of 2014, Sarah now works as a reservation manager at luxury hotel Pullman Auckland.

“I now lead a team of three, managing and overseeing all group bookings for our hotel, including for high profile groups. Liaising with other departments to ensure that our guests have a successful stay, problem-solving and complaint handling are also key parts of my role.”

She loves the variety of her role, Sarah says.

“Every day is different, and you never know what will come your way. I enjoy being able to provide valuable leadership lessons to my team, and pass on the knowledge I’ve gained to ensure every guest receives good, authentic service.”

Employer comment

“While Sarah was completing her degree, she was working at the Sofitel hotel. This enabled her to put her learnings straight into practice in real-life situations. This therefore meant that she gained experience immediately. Work experience while studying is definitely recommended. It’s important in today’s fast-paced world that we’re open to ideas and suggestions (by all levels of the organisation), so we don’t become stale or complacent. When students like Sarah are gaining insights from people that have worked in other organisations, hotels or overseas they take what they have learnt in the classroom and may come into an organisation with new ideas or ways of doing things. This is a great way to keep hotels forward thinking and take on board the latest trends.

“The hospitality industry can have long hours and at times be unsociable, however the hard work and dedication does pay off. If you speak to managers or general managers, they will all have started in an-entry level role and worked their way up. For example, I started as a mini bar attendant and have worked my way up to be a director of sales and marketing. If you have a passion for working with people and are driven to give the best service while achieving results, then I recommend a role in hotels.”


Natalie Reid, Director of Sales and Marketing, Pullman Auckland