Simon Dell is Vice President and Area General Manager for Sri Lanka at ONYX Hospitality Group. He oversees the company’s growing presence in Sri Lanka, with direct responsibility for three hotels – OZO Colombo, OZO Kandy and Amari Galle, the latter scheduled to open later this year. Having started his career in the front office, Dell has since held various management positions at well-known international hotels in the UK, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, Russia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

What’s the most challenging in running your hotels?

There is a need to very quickly adapt to both the cultural sensitivities of the region you move to and also to the market environment specifics. This demands a high level of flexibility, situational awareness and communication skills. While this is a challenge, it is always what makes the job so interesting and exciting.

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

You also learn from things that are not correct, because you observe the opposite being the right way, therefore you learnt a lesson. Getting something wrong is not a crime. Repeating the mistake is a problem.

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

You have to be both, no doubt. Anyway, just standing around in a Lobby in a nice suit won’t cut it either. You need to actively engage with the guests and the team members. You can learn so much from chatting with your team members.

What was your darkest moment in your career?

Any time when you lose an excellent member of your team for whatever reason. I don’t like losing people with great potential. It is important to focus the coaching and mentoring efforts on those you identify as high-potential. If they then leave anyway, you feel a loss and you need to ask yourself why it didn’t work out. Then do it better next time.

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

Nothing at all. Everything I’ve done in the past has led to where I am now, so, considering that, I am happy. Changing the past might change my current level of satisfaction. I don’t dwell on decisions that I made which were perhaps wrong, I learn and move on.

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

It’s important to stay in a position long enough to obtain a useful depth of knowledge in that area. Occasionally, the understanding of what “depth” means might not match.