We All Smile in the Same Language
As a Front Desk Agent at Banff Ptarmigan Inn, Haruka Okumura takes great joy in helping visitors from around the world get the most out of their stay in Banff National Park.
And for international guests visiting Canada for the first time, who may be a little overwhelmed by language or cultural barriers, Haruka offers a particularly comforting connection.
Arriving from Japan in late 2016, Haruka knew little English when she started working in hospitality at Banff Ptarmigan Inn with Banff Lodging Co. As she immersed herself in work and daily life, her language skills and confidence soared. And before long, she was eager to take on more guest-facing roles.
Now specializing in customer service as a Front Desk Agent, Haruka enjoys spending her workdays interacting with guests as they check in, depart, and make enquiries at the hotel.
She says there’s nothing more satisfying than making guests feel at home – because she knows just what it’s like to feel “new”, and that we all smile in the same language.
“I like helping guests very much. Guests from Japan are very grateful when someone can speak Japanese – it makes them feel welcome. Sometimes they leave beautiful scarves or teas, little gifts from home.”
In her spare time, you’ll find Haruka exploring the best of Banff. In winter, she enjoys snowboarding, exploring the town and going out with friends in the evening. In summer, she loves visiting lakes and rivers for sightseeing, or floating by canoe while practising ukulele – another skill she has picked up while in Banff!
Back in Japan, Haruka worked as a flight attendant for a small airline. Now equipped with English as a second language, she looks forward to more career opportunities with larger airlines when she returns home.
When translated from Japanese to English, “Haruka” can mean “distance” or “flower” – and her name seems more fitting than ever. As she continues to discover new skills and experiences in Banff and beyond, it’s safe to say that she will continue to bloom – no matter the distance from home.
Banff Lodging Co. is an employee owned and operated company with accommodations, restaurants, spas, and retail/rental shop all located in Banff National Park