Career Story: Kyle Stevens VIP Host
This week we caught up with one of our Merlin Ambassadors, Kyle Stevens, to find out more about his Merlin journey... From working as an elf to joining the entertainments team, and eventually ending up in the VIP team - Kyle has already achieved a lot during his time at Chessington World of Adventures Resort!
So Kyle, when did you first join us and what do you do?
I joined Merlin in November 2020 at Chessington World of Adventures Resort for the ‘Winters Tail’ event. I started working in the Entertainments Department as a ‘Christmas Performer’ taking on the role of ‘Elf Winter’ in the Father Christmas Grotto and Toy Workshop. This opportunity ignited a fiery passion inside of me to continue working in the theme park environment, and therefore I returned to Chessington after the lockdown for the 2021 main season.
Upon returning to the resort I joined the ‘DELTA’ team as a shift lead, acting as the department duty manager. This was a relatively new team formed in the pandemic to moderate coronavirus measures, enforce compliance, and enhance the guest experience.
As Covid-19 restrictions softened, and entertainment was allowed to return, I became an ‘Entertainments Host’ over Summer 2021. This included working on resort shows and evening entertainments for the onsite accommodation. Fast-forwarding to the present, I am now a ‘VIP Guest Experience Host’ delivering numerous unique experiences.
And what does a 'day in the life' look like working in the VIP team?
Your day can vary massively when working in VIP, which is what I love about my job. No two days are ever the same. Some days I work on animal experiences, where I deliver interesting and educational talks to guests while encountering/feeding the animals. These can include Giraffe Feeds (most of the time), African Animal safari’s, Skunk Walks, Coati encounters (my favourite), and many more!
Alternatively, other days I deliver ultimate package experiences, including gold days where I guide guests around the park & attend to their every need. This can sometimes include dressing up as an elf over the festive period which is lots of fun. Finally, I could be preparing & delivering hotel room packages, or even working in the office assisting with email confirmations and guest queries.
And what's your favourite thing about your job?
There are countless things that I love about my job, but my favourite is the ability I have to make a guest's day really special. I get to meet so many different people from different walks of life, and even sometimes make dreams come true. My role allows me to deliver experiences that make people feel like true VIPs – whether that be Fast-tracking them to the front of a queue or taking them for a Giraffe Feed. The reactions are priceless and consistently fulfilling.
What are some of the best memories/experiences you’ve had since working for us?
One of my best memories has been winning the ‘We Love What We Do’ award at the Chessington STAR BALL in November 2021. It felt like all of my hard work was appreciated and I felt genuinely valued by my colleagues. It was also the first chance for a social event since the pandemic began, so it was great to see all the departments come together to party.
I have loved getting to meet and work with so many of the different animals in the zoo. A few of my favourites have been the Rainbow Lorikeets, the Giraffes, as well as Jackson the Binturong. There is something so humble and grounding about interacting with them, which is why it never gets boring!
Finally, one of my favourite experiences was hosting Peter Crouch, Abbey Clancy, and their family over Halloween. I remember dancing across the park joyously with their kids, running from one side to the next.
Is there anything that’s surprised you, or you’ve learned in your role?
I am surprised at how confident I have become interacting with guests. I have learned how to gauge my energy to reflect a guest's needs, as well as how to best entertain them. I have also discovered the impact I can have as an individual on the resort as a whole. I can play a part in boosting morale by engaging in conversations with other departments, sending STAR’s and offering a helping hand where needed. Happy staff equals happy guests, and we can all help to make that happen – no matter what role you’re in.
So, what skills are needed to be successful in your role?
You must be confident interacting with different types of people and upholding conversation despite how responsive your guests may be. It’s all about maintaining exceptional standards throughout every shift, despite the circumstances. Additionally, you need to be able to retain high levels of information, such as facts about the animals, guest names, as well as safety procedures, in order to create and protect the unique VIP magic.
And what advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your team?
Simply show & share your passion for the work that you aspire to do. If you can bring a ‘can-do’ positive attitude to your job, you are already on the road to success. Loving what we do is a part of our values at Merlin, and is definitely the most important when delivering VIP experiences, where we constantly strive for nothing but the best.
I am proud that I get to work in the most extraordinary place with the most extraordinary team to surround me. A workplace fuelled by passion, innovation, and excitement. That’s why I’d encourage anyone to apply for a role in Merlin because when you love your work, you work your magic!