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The challenges hotels face throughout the pandemic

Women in Business - Sushmita Rathour
Sushmita Rathour (Photographer: Aaron Hemens)

In this 30th edition of Women in Business, women were interviewed who are employed in front-line positions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These women share their stories of overcoming negativity, working with the community and turning unpredictable situations into something positive— in the hope that their perseverance and success will become the guiding light for the next generation of women in business.

Women in Business shows who the movers and the shakers are in Kelowna and that there is always a space to share stories of successful women.

Working in any aspect of the hotel business can be a challenge at times, let alone throughout a pandemic but Sushmita Rathour has been thriving in the industry.

Rathour has been working evenings and nights at the front desk at the Ramada Hotel on Highway 97 and Dilworth Drive for the last three months. Before the Ramada, she worked at another hotel in Kelowna to help pay for her post-secondary education. She’s seen and has had to deal with any changes in the industry since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve had to change a lot of things,” said Rathour. “Sanitizing, masks, and dealing with people it’s different now, we have to maintain the physical distance.”

Luckily, she’s never had an experience with COVID (case or close contact) inside the hotel.

“People are so understanding about this situation,” said Rathour. “I haven’t faced anyone who says ‘I’m not going to wear the mask’ or anything like that.”

She added that sometimes people forgot to put their masks on, but once they’re reminded, they put them on right away.

At the first hotel she worked as the housekeeping supervisor and faced more challenges due to it being the start of the pandemic. Housekeeping at the hotel can be difficult with cleaning every room, every day but even more so when there’s an added risk of getting sick, she explained.

“Short of staff was a major issue at the start of the pandemic,” she said. “People were afraid of doing work. The housekeepers are touching the stuff in the rooms and we never know if someone is affected with COVID.”

Thankfully no one has gotten sick under her watch.

While tackling pandemic procedures Rathour also handled guests who were victims of the past year’s natural disasters in B.C.

In November, the Ramada was host to several people from Merritt who were forced from their homes after flooding. Some people stayed for up to a month, she said.

People in the hotel who were dealing with the flooding would come to the front desk at night to vent, not to complain, but just to have someone to talk to as they were worried about their homes and possessions. Rathour pointed out one man, in particular, that would come down to the front desk every night to talk about his house and town.

Rathour has a successful career already and has been studying in Canada for about three years. She moved to Kelowna from India to start her post-secondary education at Okanagan College in the fall of 2019. After just two years, she graduated in 2021 with marketing as her major and business as her minor.

The pandemic has also affected her schooling but that didn’t faze Rathour. She enjoyed continuing her studies online.

“It was actually fun. I attended the college (in person) for one and a half semesters and in the second semester the pandemic happened and all the classes were shut down and they said you will have online classes.”

While new to the country Rathour has been making her mark on the city and has had a positive impact in dealing with the pandemic in the workplace.

“We value all frontline workers and our front desk staff and management.” said Maxime DeHart, Director of Sales and Management, Ramada Hotel. “We value how strong they’ve been through the last couple years and every employee at the Ramada hotel and conference centre.”

Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
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