Of true Marriott blood, Aekphon has been with the family for 14 years. He has been part of the opening teams for JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa as Assistant Director of Food & Beverage, Opening Director of Operations at Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok and the stylish Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa as Director of Operations. In 2012, Aekphon transferred to London as Director of Room Operations at St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, after which he moved to the role of Director of Operations at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square in September 2013. He held that role until he moved to his current role as General Manager of the Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa.
In your role, what challenges do you face?
I’d say running any property has its own challenges. We need to balance all aspects: guests satisfaction, financial aspects, competitiveness and maintain staff. Those are challenging in running any property. But here being a smaller sized property, there are sometimes limited budgets in running marketing campaigns. This is why we have to make the most out of the budget we have.
You have a lot of competitors in Samui. What makes your property unique ?
Number one I’d say the service from our staff – that’s our strength. Most of our guests always comment on the service of our staff. If you go on social media, the number top compliments we get are about the staff and service.
There are a lot of branded hotels in this area. Which properties have brand standards similar to yours? What else differentiates you from those properties?
Being a Marriott, and especially a Renaissance brand is our advantage. Strong brand standards of Marriott, and the lifestyle of Renaissance are unique selling points that already differentiate us from others. We have our bar ritual ritual where guests are welcome to make their cocktails along with our bartender totally free of charge. We have a navigator who can show you what’s local – markets, culture, hidden places and the like.
Our guests like to enjoy activities that we provide and explore the city and also there are some that want a quiet relaxing on the beach.
What are you doing in PR and Marketing?
At this moment we can’t deny social media. It’s a powerful tool now and it only looks like it’s going to play more and more of an important role – especially Trip Advisor.
Do hotels need a dedicated Revenue Manager or can GM’s do the job adequately by themselves?
I believe that we need one, and it’s an important part of operating a hotel. We need to understand the market – when, where and at what price we should be setting things at. It’s become more challenging than it used to be. We need an in-depth knowledge of the market. General Managers can do it, but I don’t think we would be as good as a specialist who can put 100% of their attention and energy into doing it.
For smaller hotels without dedicated people in charge of revenue management, I think it would be very challenging to perform as well as the big chains.
What is your favourite book or a book that you have read recently?
Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton is my all time favorite.
What advice do you have for new or future hoteliers?
You need determination. Don’t forget that you are hotelier at the end of the day. It’s not always about money and numbers. The guests are most important. If you forget that, then your hotel might be successful for a couple of years but in the long run it will inevitably fail.
What about Samui do you like the most?
Look at the view!
This article is sponsored by Hotelogix