Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Ricci-Lee Wheeler is undoubtedly one of the industry’s rising stars. In fact, she’s already received an award of the same name twice, first in the form of a scholarship while working at Crowne Plaza Hotels and again at last year’s Australian Hotels Association NSW Awards for Excellence for her current work with Hunt Hospitality.
Upon meeting her, the accolades come as no surprise due to her high energy, bubbly personality, dedication to her work and ability to connect with just about anyone.
“My career began working on Front Desk with Crowne Plaza Hotels checking in and out guests and recommending rooms and activities,” Ricci-Lee said.
“It was while working at The Crown Plaza, Terrigal that I first realised having a heightened level of customer service resulted in high impact sales.
“When I was 19 I received a Christmas bonus of one per cent on my total upsells. At that age it was a hefty incentive and from that moment forward I learned the power of the transfer of energy from one person to another and the absolute importance of anticipating a customer’s needs and providing solutions.”
Within two years of her initial Crowne Plaza Scholarship, Ricci Lee went from strength to strength and was soon awarded the role of Wedding and Events Planner, which saw her manage social events and increase the company’s sales by more than $1.6 million per year.
Not content to rest on her laurels, Ricci-Lee went on to hold the role of Executive Sales Manager at Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and it was there she would meet two people who greatly influenced her life.
Newcastle business icon Peter James was Ricci-Lee’s first radio client at SCA and together they launched the now iconic Blue Door brand.
“Peter was always a leader in food, design and social media,” she said.
“I watched people over the years mimic his ideas and it never bothered him. He took it as a compliment and instead just focused on creating the next big hit. He was always willing to share his knowledge and I found him extremely inspiring that way.” In her current role as Director of Operations and Marketing at Hunt Hospitality, Ricci-Lee manages all of the group’s marketing and sales and played a crucial role in the hospitality team's ability to raise more than $300,000 throughout 2019 for the NSW Variety Bash.
It was this campaign that also saw Hunt Hospitality short-listed as a Heart of the Community category finalist in last year’s Australian Hotel Association NSW Awards for Excellence.
“Stephen Hunt and I worked closely together for six years while I was at SCA before I took on my current role,” Ricci-Lee said.
“He is obviously a huge mentor to me as my Managing Director and speaks in a language I understand and admire. He has an executive team in which three out of four members are women and he is our biggest fan.”