Alison Franks – Feel The Hamptonality
Content and photos by Joff Alexander-Frye
Additional photos supplied by PPA
I can’t think of many people who embody the phrase ‘larger than life’ more than Alison Franks, Director of Sales at Hampton by Hilton (the modern 160-bedroom hotel near Exeter Airport).
With seemingly endless vigour, a concrete work ethic and a strong commercial edge to her skill-set, she really is a force of nature. On top of that, she has an infectious smile, a lovely lightness about her personality and a confidence in the way she carries herself that only tends to be found in those who have refined such things over time.
When I popped out to the Hampton by Hilton to meet with Alison for a chat, I was welcomed with a big hug, a huge smile and she was adorned with a gold Hilton crown (albeit made of paper)! This, so she tells me, is ‘Hamptonality’; Hampton by Hilton’s way of trying to ensure their guests experience ‘The Hilton effect’, putting a smile on their guests’ faces and making everyone who comes through the door feel welcome and relaxed. It might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly refreshing to see people in the British hospitality industry – often criticised for its poor customer service – attempting to improve standards and guest experiences. I was certainly ‘feeling the love’ and can see how ‘The Hampton Way’ must make their guests feel similarly upbeat and welcome.
Originally from Shropshire, Alison has worked at Hampton by Hilton for a couple of years now and has gone about building her local network, applying this same infectious energy, enthusiasm and personality to her professional relationships in Exeter and the surrounding area.
As a hotel, Hampton by Hilton offers so much to so many different types of people and is always very busy as a result. Of course, there are the obvious clientele from the Flybe Training School next door, or people travelling to or from Exeter Airport. However, the hotel also offers sleek, modern meeting rooms for hire, which attract corporate clients, as well as free Wifi throughout, a fantastic Food Zone and relaxing lounge spaces dotted around the ground floor, making it perfect for informal chats or meetings too.
Naturally, the thing that people really care about at a hotel is their bedroom, as everything else is an added benefit. The nicest hotel in the world wouldn’t be popular for long if the bedrooms were sub-standard. Alison spoke openly about having experienced first-hand what working after a bad-night’s sleep at other hotels is like. One of her primary focuses in her role is to make sure that people enjoy their stay, feel refreshed and relaxed and then leave ready to engage with whatever they are going on to do; be it work or play.
Talking of play, Alison is a huge rugby fan so either spends her time up at the Chiefs or talking about them whenever she meets other Rugby fans. If it’s not that,she’s in the gym at 6am! As well as being a keen traveller, in a previous part of her career, she worked for a global five-star airline (although had to overcome a fear of flying in order to undertake that role). She mentioned South Africa (the birthplace of her husband), Italy and Hawaii as some of her favourite places to have travelled over the years with her family. She joked about getting bored and being patted down and searched every day at work (security was paramount) and also about her coping mechanisms for rude or abusive passengers. Not particularly appropriate to expand further on those here, but it’s safe to say she has more than a few stories that’ll make you chuckle!
As a relatively recent native of East Devon, Alison explained how she is still getting used to being based in the same geographical location as her husband, as they used to work a few hours apart during the week. She explained,
“My husband and I worked in different parts of the country for over six years, until I moved to Exeter. It sounds crazy looking back now, although it made me have respect for single parents and it was tough. With Steve based here and me in Shropshire trying to juggle working full-time with a young family, school and after school clubs, weekends were a chaotic emptying of suitcases, washing, baking and cutting grass (ready for the following week to begin). Working our socks off really paid off though and we now have a beautiful home only a mile from the city. I’ll never forget the first phone call Steve made saying “I’ll be home in 20 minutes – how mad does that sound!”, rather than the usual three-hour journey that he made every Friday to be back home with us. Heaven.”
With Alison as the driving evangelical force behind Exeter’s Hampton by Hilton, they are surely on to a good thing. You’ll never forget her if you meet her and you’ll most likely not want to either.
In fact, if you’d like to meet her, why not sign up to the Gin Night at Hampton by Hilton on February 1st 2019 (in conjunction with Chris Bentley’s The Notworking Networking Club). With loads of Local gins on offer, including Exeter Gin, Quick Gin, Salcombe Gin and Plymouth Gin, what better way to celebrate getting through Dry Ginuary?
Stay up to date with Alison @alisonfranks23 and Hampton by Hilton @ExeterHampton on Twitter