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Hotelier of the Month : Tony Chisholm

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No stranger to Vietnam, this is Tony Chisholm’s second time working in Ho Chi Minh. He is eager to embrace new experiences by exploring a day by day developing “Saigon” and beyond, discovering the new Vietnamese generation.

Tony brings with him over twenty years of experience working in the hospitality industry at a senior management level across the Asia-Pacific region. Right now, you can find him at Pullman Saigon Centre as a General Manager and Area General Manager for South Vietnam.

What’s the most challenging in running your hotel?

I think the challenge is to pick up as quickly as you can the market conditions and ensure that from a sales and brand positioning point of view the hotel has the best chance of being successful as it can. Every city and every market is different and every hotel has its own unique strengths and DNA so the faster you understand these the greater the opportunity the hotel has to be more successful. What works for as a general manager in one city does not guarantee success in another.

Have you ever been given any advice that proved not to be true?

I think we get given advice by a great many number of people and it’s about filtering that advice and using parts of the advice that we believe have a commercial value and make logical sense. At the end of the day we have our teams to ask and check things with and if we use our teams to their potential then the hotel should be fine.

Are you a ‘Lobby GM’ or a Numbers GM?’ – And what is the importance of being a Lobby and / or a Numbers GM?

It’s about being an environmentalist and managing the environment of the entire hotel and not just the lobby and the financial aspects. Hotels have numerous departments and requirements and it’s about knowing which part of the hotel needs you the most and which area the General Manager requires attention. The Lobby is a great place to meet customers and talk about their experiences but the Club lounge or the pool area can be equally important. It’s about being in as many places as you can to gain the real pulse of the hotel. I have great people in all areas of the hotel so it’s about going where they need me.

What was your darkest moment in your career?

I can’t say I have had one because every dark cloud has a silver lining and I believe that we have to experience great challenges to understand how to enjoy great success. Managing the Sofitel Brisbane during the Brisbane floods some years ago was dark because the city’s power went off but thankfully the generators at Sofitel Brisbane were working.

If you could turn back time, what would be the one thing you would have changed in your career?

I arrived in Asia when I was 29 back in 2003 and I think if I could things differently I would have come 5 years sooner.

What are the most common issues with the new generation hoteliers ?

The need to move faster, we have to move and innovate all the time. Innovate our recruitment processes, innovate our guest experience, innovate our food & beverage experiences, ensure that we are being more creative and more guest centric than ever before.

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