Midweek Interview

Midweek Interview with Plaza Premium Lounges’ Stuart Vella

This week, Plaza Premium Lounges’ national general manager took us for a spin on his motorbike and told us all about his two Siamese cats, Seth and Zeke. Then he emailed us his answers for this interview.

The challenge for the industry is…

The lounge industry comes with many increasing customer expectations, making it harder to meet and exceed them every day. We have to listen to our customers and constantly innovate and update services to suit their needs – a challenge I relish!

There is also high competition in the lounge space, but each operator has their own way of doing things. I see competition as a good thing because the more people that know about pay-as-you-go lounges the better it is for everyone. We need to educate Australian travellers that these facilities are in the market.

The things I like about my job are…

The dynamic environment – what makes me tick is having the opportunity to create something special to a huge variety of people from different walks of life. My philosophy is catering and delivering expectations to people who want some of the ‘finer things in life’ – this drives me and my team to create a lounge ethos which understands the importance of customers who are constantly on the move, whether travelling for business, for leisure or visiting family.

And the frustrations are…

Not having enough hours in the day! Being a GM across three airports makes for a very busy schedule and I want to ensure I give everyone as much assistance as possible.

If I didn’t work in travel, I would be…

Something to do with racing and motorsports – I love highspeed boats!

My favourite airline is…

Virgin domestically and for international, it is Sky team airlines.

My proudest moment was…

Being the Youngest Food and Beverage Cruise Director at age 23 in the cruise industry! See my picture with Sir Edmund Hillary (Above).

The naughtiest thing I ever did was…

Smuggled milk onto a ship off the coast of the French Riveria in the middle of the night due to stevedore strike.

I try to relax by…

Riding my motorbike and looking after my two Siamese cats – Seth & Zeke

The last time I feared for my life was…

Djibouti, Africa.

If I can, I always try to avoid…

Rushing to a flight or having an uncomfortable layover for hours – I always have access to lounges and our Aerotel hotels for a quick refresh or swim in Changi.

I really wish I had…

The knowledge I have now when I was 18.

The best advice I’ve ever received was…

Put yourself in your customers shoes – how would you feel if your flight was delayed or you were stressed before a business trip. It is these human insights which inform our operational planning.

I don’t understand why people…

Leave it to the last minute for travel when they can arrive early, relax and start their vacation in style and comfort?

My greatest weakness is…

Impatience – I just want to get things done!

And my greatest strength is…

My passion for travel, curiosity and excellent service.

If I won a $1 million lottery (aside from travelling), I would…

Become a volunteer CEO for a charity organisation like Pet Rescue.

If I was prime minister, I would…

Put more funding into infrastructure, the police, the military and create jobs for Aussies.

If I could be someone else for one day, I would be…

A Motogp professional motorbike rider!

I’ve always wanted to travel to…

I haven’t been to Cuba and would love to visit. I have visited 70 per cent of the world’s countries so am always looking to tick more off! I’ve been around the world 7 times, north to south pole. I’ve also circumnavigated Antarctica on cruise ships….

My favourite holiday was…

Travelling through Croatia and then up through Trieste and into Italy finally ending in Rome. I have fond memories of eating fresh truffles, pasta and amazing Mediterranean food and wine and driving the entire way in a rusty broken down Fiat 127.

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