Hoteliers Rethink Traditional Business

Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR) – December 16, 2014 – The second-annual Hotel Management Asia Summit last month, which focused on challenging the existing hotel business model in preparation for the changing business environments, attracted 120 senior hoteliers who learned about innovative management, human resources, sales and marketing and performance evaluation strategies.

The 5 Nov summit led off with a high-level hotel leaders panel that explored branding, internal efficiency, staff motivation, technology and profitability. Ricco DeBlank, CEO of SHKP Hotels, believes that front desks will disappear from hotels in the near future. He observed that all hotels tend to be the same nowadays and only 20 percent of the guests can differentiate between brands. Richard Baker, Mandarin Oriental’s executive vice president and operations director – Asia, concurred, saying hotel groups with many brands confuse their guests, adding that Mandarin Oriental has just one brand for that reason.

On yield and profitability, the panelists agreed that direct bookings are the least expensive distribution method and provide more influence over the guest experience. David Topolewski, CEO of Qooco, commented that developing guest loyalty is essential for direct bookings, which increase yield by reducing expensive OTA commissions. Baker pointed out that not only are direct bookings less expensive, but hoteliers can customize guest experiences based on their profiles. DeBlank commented that OTAs are going to decline because some new innovations will come along, including Google’s OTA, which does not charge commissions, making money through advertising.

A panel of senior hotel human resources professionals debated whether employee turnover is necessarily negative. Lay Peng Ooi, vice president – human resources development for Rosewood Hotel Group, believes raises should be based on productivity, not length of service. Antonio Ramirez, senior vice president human resources for Sands China Limited agreed, saying turnover is not a bad thing. Dirk-Jan Rijks, vice president global human resources development, service & attitude, global marketing for Accor Luxury and Upscale Brands suggested that it all depends on location. He noted high turnover negatively affects guest feedback and productivity in China while very low turnover in Fiji hinders internal promotion and talent development. The panelists agreed hoteliers should focus on career development, interdepartmental transfers and cross-training, in response to turnover instead of increasing employee pay.

Other sessions address how to overcome short booking windows, evaluate business performances, manage Gen-Y and technology automation. Speakers included Symon Bridle, chief operating officer, Rosewood Hotel Group; Kevin Chuc, deputy group general manager, Sino Group of Hotels; Tabatha Ramsay, vice president of sales, marketing & revenue, Oakwood Asia Pacific; David Rees, vice president, Asia Pacific, Salto Systems; Richard Hatter, general manager, Hotel ICON; Charles Wang, regional head of consulting, IDeaS – A SAS Company; Kin Chow, group finance director, Ovolo Group; Allen Lim, chief financial officer, Miramar Hotel and Investment Company Limited; Francis Ling, vice president – Finance, Rosewood Hotel Group.

In 2015, the Hotel Management Asia Summit Series will return to key gateway cities, kicking off with Bangkok in May. For more information, please visit .

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