The Front Line of F&B
Welcome to The Front Line of F&B, a new regular column championing the best in customer service in the food & beverage industry. Those featured here are the real heroes of our industry – staff members who go the extra mile every day when serving the travelling public.
Employee: Tatjana Djukanovic
Role: Server, Hurley’s Irish Pub
Employer: SSP America
Time in job: Four years
About Tatjana: Tatjana Djukanovic’s parents were children of the Yugoslavian civil war who witnessed unspeakable war crimes and left the country for Germany, and ultimately, Montreal. Her mother had been a high ranking government official, but in Montreal was a cleaning lady. Growing up, Tatjana was the ‘immigrant kid’ who had to learn English. She had one friend who taught her her first English word – strawberries. The pair are best friends today.
Tatjana is one of SSP’s brightest stars and a server at Hurley’s Irish Pub in Montréal Trudeau International’s transborder terminal. Tatjana has spent most of her career as a server in private restaurants and was one of the original team members hired for Hurley’s when it opened in 2016.
She is a leader who has helped ensure the unit’s success since opening and has been recognised for her service by Aéroports de Montréal with a Coup de Coueur Award and a variety of awards from SSP. She volunteers for the airport’s annual Premier Kids event, which supports families travelling with children who have special needs. Tatjana herself has a son who is on the autism spectrum.
Employer’s comments: Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry once said, “I’d probably be famous now if I wasn’t such a good waitress”. Given her loyal following at Montréal Trudeau, the same could be said for Tatjana. She has such a large crowd of regulars that it’s difficult to get them all seated before some flights.
Tatjana calls Hurley’s her second home. The Montréal Trudeau team calls her their ‘Ambassador of Passion’. The SSP internal culture is based on ‘Passion Principles’, which unify the company across North America with a common vantage point and shared set of values.
One of SSP’s ‘Passion Principles’ is ‘Authentic Experiences’. Tatjana believes that being authentic is important in her life. “Passengers know when you are not being true to them,” she says. “So being authentic and giving them an authentic experience is what keeps passengers coming back.”
What makes Tatjana special: Travellers are often incredibly touched by Tatjana’s willingness to help them navigate their luggage to the table, and depend on her for her expert understanding of the food menu, whiskeys and beers. She makes tired children laugh and sings them a song. She puts first-time flyers at ease with a joke and a sympathetic chat. For those travelling with service dogs, she serves the dogs water in a dog bowl on the floor.
She is sure to ask about flight times to ensure the traveller is able to finish their meal. And, anyone who leaves a passport or ticket need not fear, she will dash down the terminal to get the belongings back to the owner.