This week's featured service industry professional is Mr. Vinicius Viana, who has an extraordinary resume that includes tenure at some of the world's most exotic destinations working with heads of state, billionaires and royalty.
You’ve had a really amazing career in the service industry working with ultra-high net worth individuals and families. What gave you the idea to start in hospitality?
I am an orphan. I lost my mom when I was three years old. And, tragically, I never had the opportunity to know my father, either. I was raised by my beloved grandma, along with my aunt and three cousins.
I felt alone most of the time during childhood. From this, I developed an emotional magnetism with some charities in Brazil. Helping people, talking to them – understanding them. Not only giving bread to the poor, but above all, making them feeling special and valued.
Hospitality has always been in my heart. It’s about helping people in need. Serving and understanding others is what matters to me.
When I look at a person, I see a “person” – not a rank, a class, or a title.
Working for a royal family must have been an experience of a lifetime. Could you summarize for us what you did for them?
Being a Butler or P.A. for UHNW individuals could be a dream job for most people out there. However, it requires a lot of stamina and resilience to make things happen every day. All the client wants is time. Time and quality service counts in every aspect of the job.
The day to day workings is vastly different from one job to another. Today you can be at the estate in the Middle East; then a few hours later, you are packing and preparing a long and carefully-planned list for catering to be sent and served (by you) in Europe.
I have seen little room for a steady daily routine. From food and beverage services, to preparing events, hosting VIPs, knowing about private planes, yachts, and antiques... It’s a vast field with a unique skills needed to navigate it all.
If someone wanted to work with an ultra-high net worth family, what are three key pieces of advice that you would give them?
My three main foundations always have been: diplomacy, discretion, and a unique state of mind.
To stand tall on your own feet requires a lot of understanding that money is time. Ultra-high net worth individuals cannot wait. Your mind-set and skill-set must be as precise as a surgeon’s hands.
You will be challenged every single day to find out if you have the best to offer. In terms of services, luxury, or lifestyle: It’s a vicious cycle that never stops. The more you know, the better you will be able to perform in your job.
Knowledge is paramount, while wanting to understand wealthy minds and deep desires.
Perhaps “wisdom” is understanding that I am one small part of a VIPs operation, and I enjoy that I am learning from my boss every day.
Since you have worked in 5-star hotels, the airline industry and with the Saudi Royal Family, we are wondering what you think the pros and cons are of each situation?
Luxury hotels, the airline industry, and royals are virtually one in the same – unparalleled wellbeing for VIPs and the uniqueness of tailored services.
I’ve learned that success comes in a very prickly package. Whether you choose to accept it or not is up to you. It’s what you choose to do with it, and the people you choose to surround yourself with. Always choose people that are better than you. Always choose people that challenge you and are smarter than you – that’s how you grow and learn.
Certainly, dedicating a life to others happiness can sometimes be exhausting. At times it can never be enough to fulfill what they expect. But trusting and pushing yourself every day makes you stronger, and that’s how you get to the next level.
Without giving any specific names, could you tell us the most challenging experience you have ever faced?
The challenge is to understand when and where you can cross boundaries.
Not that I have ever necessarily been faced with it, but if [a VIP hotel guest] wants something illegal, immoral, or against federal law and\or international laws - I will not do it.
Having said all of that, the wealthiest do not always accept a “NO”. So, we learn in the service industry that is important to rebound gracefully, and always provide second and third alternatives.
For me, the job is about accepting the challenges along the way, choosing to keep moving forward, and savoring the journey while striving to give my clients the best I can.
The hardest part is, regardless of how you proceed, no matter how difficult the situation, just excel and do your best.
Written for assistants and estate managers working for celebrities, CEOs, UHNW families, billionaires and royalty