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Civic Hotel’s General Manager Creates a Perfect Balance

Franklin Jackson, Civic Hotel’s General Manager, has all the hallmarks of the consummate professional hotelier. Even when he sits, he never settles for long. He keeps a constant eye on all the moving pieces and people around him and is always ready to step in with a pleasant word or instruction. It’s par for the course of someone with a long and impressive history of overseeing complex facilities while managing a high-performing team of managers and hundreds of guests and visitors.

Yet there’s a particular spring to his step, these days, as he assumes his position at the helm of Surrey’s first luxury business hotel. “We’re really embracing our role right here at the centre of this major new urban hub,” he says of the Hotel, located next to City Hall. “It’s exciting to be part of building the future of hi-tech right here in City Centre. We see our role as providing a comfortable place where entrepreneurs and innovators can connect with local businesses and the people who are at the heart of this city’s transformation.”

After almost twenty years in the hotel business, Jackson is particularly well-positioned to support the needs of those guests. He set his sights on a career in the hotel business early, earning a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Management in his native India. After several years working, he took the job of butler at a beach resort in Dubai and from there began his steady rise through the ranks of the international hotel business. Positions in Djibouti and Chad followed, with his taking on increasingly senior management roles in leisure, residential and business hotel properties, before landing in Canada in 2009.

Jackson has been in the hospitality industry long enough to have seen an enormous amount of change take place, which he says comes down to one thing. “Technology has become the driving force of change in the hospitality, from how we manage the back end of the facility using Cloud systems now, to the needs of our customers. Mobile devices are being used to plan a lot of trips and reserve rooms. They’re also defining the expectations of our customers, who now expect a much faster response from the hotel they’re staying at.”

Staying one step ahead of the rapidly evolving role of technology comes easily to Jackson, both in his professional and personal lives. “I love tech. I spend a lot of time online looking at the latest software and apps and how our customers are using them. I always have to have the latest phone. And if it’s raining out and I can’t play golf, I’ll go online and research what’s new and figure out how to use it.” On the days he manages to fit in a game of golf, which has been a passion of his since he first picked up a club in 2013, technology follows him on to the green. He tracks his games and stats using the golf app on his smartphone.

While he actively keeps up on the technology end, the very personable Jackson has an equally firm grip on the human side of hotel life. Having worked around the world, he’s well used to working in a fast-paced, diverse multicultural environment. “At one of the hotels in the Middle East, I was fortunate enough to be part of the opening team where I worked with people of 19 different nationalities. But no matter whether it’s my managers, the guests, the vendors or the suppliers, everyone we work with is an important part of the business and deserves the same respect, no matter what their beliefs or attitudes.”

Looking back on his career, he touches on what every great General Manager ultimately understands about the balancing act that makes up a big part of his work. “Technology is a great tool, but people are people, no matter where they come from around the world. What they really want, what makes for a memorable experience in a great hotel, is to feel warm and connected. Whether it’s an event here at the Civic or a meeting somewhere in City Centre, my team and I are going to provide everything possible to support those personal and professional connections.”