Though running a group of cheap UK hotels known for low prices, Tune puts great emphasis on hiring the right staff. First of all, they are seen as ambassadors for the brand; but they also need to be smart and flexible, as Tune runs with low staffing and little room for error. So it was interesting to interview Agda who is one of the receptionists at Tune Kings Cross.
Tune King's Cross GM Stuart Clay told me: "We recruited Agda due to her winning smile and personality" - even though she hadn't previously worked in the hotel industry (she had experience as a waitress and a receptionist in a beauty salon). She had though attended Reception Academy, which gave her a thorough training for the hospitality industry.
Agda believes that this was a great way into the hospitality sector; "I trained at Reception Academy for a month, every day," she says, "and two weeks after I finished the course, I got the job!"
Her education wasn't finished though and in line with other Tune employees, she spent two weeks being familiarised with the Tune brand, concept and systems. Since she joined the team after the hotel opened, she didn't get the experience of working at the other Tune hotels.
Agda hails from Wembley and finds King's Cross a lot busier but likes this. "This is the first time I've been to the area," she says. "It's a good place to work; there's a lot of places to go out - everything's close; the museums and even London Zoo". Tourists planning a trip to London who might otherwise head to the West End may want to take note.
Her job is challenging and unpredictable. "Sometimes it's really crazy in here, ten or twenty people at the same time, then ten minutes later it's completely quiet. But usually we know that ten o'clock checkout time is going to be busy, so there's a lot of pressure in the morning - people wanting coffees too!". In an example of Tune's "all hands to the deck" philosophy, orders in the Tune café are prepared by the reception staff too.
Diplomacy is an important part of her job. For instance, some customers don't understand the Tune pay-for-what-you-use concept. "Some people don't understand why we charge for small things like early check-in or bags," she says. "Most people do, but we get some who don't like having to pay for extras. It can be difficult sometimes to explain this to them."
But is Tune a good place to work? This is the kind of question that as a journalist I know will always get the answer ‘yes' - but I'm watching out for any hesitation, any little qualifications, the need to think before she answers. What I get back is a fast and forthright "Yes". Agda says: "I really enjoy what I'm doing and the people I'm working with". There was a good measure of consistency here with the interview I conducted at one of Tune's sister hotels near Liverpool Street with Jeremy.
I probe a little further though. Agda's Brazilian - doesn't the English weather get her down? And now at last I've found something she really does find difficult. "I do miss the sun a lot," she says. "It's not easy living with London weather!"