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Mice Asia Net : January 2009
Q&A with the use of a remote control, facilitating bed-making and vacuuming without bending, resulting in less chance of workplace injury and greater productivity. It also makes for a cleaner, healthier environment for hotel guests, as the room attendant can effectively vacuum the entire under- bed area. Q: How can GM’s/operators/properties help to make a difference to local communities? A: We can make a tangible difference to the communities in which we live and work through a variety of activities. In terms of corporate social responsibility, earlier this year I had the opportunity to take part in a CSR initiative in Cambodia led by our parent company Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to build houses with the Tabitha organisation and work with four other charities, including an AIDS orphanage, that are working to become fully self-funding and sufficient. The team at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport helped support this through various fundraising events back in Singapore. Q: What do you think the industry needs to do better? A: Within the parameters of specific hotel brands there are plenty of opportunities for creativity [and] constant innovation so that properties become more bespoke in nature, providing a really unique experience for guests. For example, at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, we have enhanced our physical location with the introduction of a meet and greet service – right at the end of the aerobridge as people get off the aircraft. This airside service gives us a unique advantage over every other hotel in Singapore. Guests are then guided through immigration and customs and across the link bridge to our hotel, which means that they can be checked in and in their rooms while most other passengers are still in the airport taxi queue. We are also currently working towards providing an airline check-in facility at the hotel, another initiative that will save the guests’ precious time. Q: How do you motivate and what strategies do you have to retain your staff? A: My philosophy is to treat others the way you wish to be treated, and this we instill into the hotel team. Integrity and trust are two words I strongly believe in. It’s about making the hotel a place where people feel comfortable and safe. In general people spend more time in their waking hours at work than at home. For that reason our team restaurant has been planned in brasserie style that encourages people to rest and relax in a conducive atmosphere. We’ve also provided computers in the team restaurant so that the team can check their personal emails at break times. Team-building is important, and we have worked hard at building a team spirit in the six-months that we have been open. Since opening the hotel has its own football and cheerleading team. In addition, we follow the strong IHG ‘Room to be Yourself’ human resources philosophy which conveys the message that there are opportunities for every Crowne Plaza employee to be an individual, and, at the same time be part of a team. We recognise people’s passions and energies outside of the workplace and encourage them to bring that same passion and energy to their job. In terms of skills enhancement and upgrading, we work closely with WDA to offer training courses that provide recognised national qualifications, not just recognition at hotel or group level which we have found is a real incentive in the hiring process. Q: Given the economic downturn, what strategies will you adopt to remain competitive? A: We will not dramatically change our strategies, but rather focus more closely on ways that we can value-add to the guest experience, and develop additional business, such as our MICE business. The ‘untypical’, tropical design of our ballroom and meeting rooms has already caught the attention of couples and wedding planners and we currently have a large number of weddings on the books. We are fast becoming ‘The Place to Meet’ on the local scene for high profile society events; recently Chanel’s Cruise Collection was launched via a catwalk through the hotel swimming pool. The 30 metre landscaped pool lent itself to a great event space and all 180 guests were very close to the action. Q: How important do you think industry tradeshows (IT&CMA, WTA) and industry associations such as PATA, ICCA, etcetera are to the industry? A: Industry get-togethers are important for networking, although with increasing pressure on hotel budgets during this downturn, it is critical to focus on those events that directly influence our key target markets. Industry associations like PATA play an important role in education for the tourism and hospitality industries, particularly in Asia where emerging markets are growing so quickly and there is a critical need to educate at every level of the organisation to ensure that hotel brands like Crowne Plaza can deliver the level of service that we promise our guests. Q: Where do you anticipate future business to come from? A: We are seeing an increasing number of guest arrivals from Asia’s emerging markets, a significant growth in business from the region. We will continue to see support from key western countries such as Australia, the UK and the US. Q: Are you excited about Asia’s future and why? A: Asia is the place to be, particularly in terms of hotel development. With IHG having the largest number of hotels in the pipeline we are kept constantly on our toes as every new property raises the bar on service and facilities. Even more exciting is the fact that Crowne Plaza is the fastest growing brand in the Asia-Pacific with 58 properties currently in development. miceAsia.net 41