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Hotelier of the Month : Robert Rijnders

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A veteran in the hospitality industry, Robert Rijnders has been with ONYX Hospitality Group for over 30 years and is currently its Senior Vice President and Area General Manager for Pattaya. With expertise in operational guidance and hands-on management, Robert oversees ONYX Hospitality Group’s portfolio of seven properties in Pattaya.

His journey with ONYX started right here at Pattaya as Executive Assistant Manager of Nipa Lodge Hotel in 1981, when the company only had three hotels. Today, ONYX Hospitality Group has an expanding portfolio of 41 operating properties, with more than 20 properties in the development pipeline. He is also our Editor in chief, Wimintra Jangnin, favorite hotelier.

What is most challenging in running your hotels?

The biggest challenge is in creating a satisfying work environment and organizational culture that attracts qualified, engaged, proactive and enthusiastic team members who enjoy working towards a common goal of providing great experiences for our guests. There is increasingly competition – with many different organisations looking to identify team members with a long term commitment to hospitality and service.

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

“Hard work and long hours will always pay off and lead to success”. As an old-school hotelier, I have always been a strong believer in this piece of advice from my parents and mentors. It has served me well. As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, the younger generation of entrepreneurs and hoteliers are showing that a smarter, more innovative approach to career development can often be as rewarding.

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

Both – as achieving that right balance is important. I prefer to describe myself as a results oriented GM. My most important role is providing a high level of satisfaction to our team members, our guests, our owners and shareholders. Happy stakeholders give us GMs a more satisfying daily work routine.

What was the darkest moment in your career?

It’s missing some of the important happy (and sad) moments in my personal life, and not being there to support my friends and family members during their challenging times due to the travel distance and ongoing work commitments.

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

I have been truly blessed throughout my 35-year hospitality career, having enjoyed the support of marvelous mentors, encouraging owners and passionate team members. I would do it all over again if I could turn back the clock, but I would also have taken more risks and approached some of the challenges with a more entrepreneurial mindset.

What are the most common issues with the new generation hoteliers

The industry is evolving, and the younger generation of hoteliers are different from before. We used to be a lot more patient when it comes to recognition, career progression and rewards. It is important for the industry to speed things up in order to foster a greater sense of passion, loyalty and dedication among the younger generation of hoteliers.

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