Checking into a 5-star career

Published 21 December 2017
Head and shoulders image of Militsa Antonova Militsa Antonova, Marketing Executive, Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa.

Walking into the lobby of the 5-star Surfers Paradise Marriott hotel, the immaculate Militsa Antonova looks ready to check in and relax – but behind her calm smile, she is really just planning how to make your next holiday better.

When you plan your holiday, if you want to know the species of the 300 tropical fish that inhabit the hotel lagoon, the price of an evening drink, or the best way to plan your meetings before you arrive at your 5-star hotel, chances are that you’ll scour the internet for advice before you check in.

Most of the time, you’ll get some reliable advice, but way before you set foot in the chandeliered lobby of the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, chances are that Southern Cross University Tourism graduate Militsa Antonova will already be looking after you.

As Marketing Executive at the exclusive Gold Coast hotel, Ms Antonova has introduced new systems to interact with social media, helping guests with questions before they arrive, and using specialist social media monitoring software to instantly address any public social media posts by guests. A positive tweet by a guest enjoying their meal might elicit a response of a free drink from Ms Antonova’s team, while negative feedback can also be directly and instantly addressed.

“Social media is offering us opportunities to answer people’s questions quickly before they come, enhance their experience while they are here and also follow up to help them share their memories after they leave,” Ms Antonova said.

“Great hotels can help customers extend the enjoyment of their stay, providing information and engaging with them so that their whole experience is more memorable.”

A huge amount of hard work goes on behind the scenes to ensure the 5-star hotel offers memorable stays for guests, but the workload is enthusiastically embraced by the relentlessly diligent executive.

After growing up in Sevlievo, a small town in central Bulgaria, Ms Antonova chose to study a Bachelor of Business in International Hospitality Management at Southern Cross University - because she wanted a degree that would combine relevant theoretical knowledge with practical experience.

Speaking a few languages and armed with a network of industry contacts, Ms Antonova was quickly offered her choice of internships at two different Marriott Hotels, and chose the exclusive Surfers Paradise Resort & Spa, where she had already won a job as a waitress and had built positive relationships with staff.

After graduating in 2016, Ms Antonova so impressed the Marriott staff that they created a new digital role for her, and was rapidly promoted to the role of Marketing Executive in 2017.

“To move from being an intern to my dream job as Marketing Executive at Marriott in just 18 months is amazing,” Ms Antonova said.

“Southern Cross gave me a great start to my career, because the internship and the assignments gave me practical skills I could use straight away.

“I fell in love with Australia and the way the education system works here."

“With 300 days of sunshine per year, the Gold Coast is a national and international tourism destination and it’s hard to imagine a better place to begin a career in travel and tourism.”

While Ms Antonova could have chosen a career in law or business, she decided while in high school that she wanted to work in an industry that made people happy.

“My degree at Southern Cross has helped me into an industry where I can make a little difference to people’s lives every day. I studied for a career, not just a job. Whilst I love what I am doing now, there are so many more places I am excited to go with my career.”

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Media contact: Southern Cross University scumedia@scu.edu.au