Swiss national Bruno Huber is currently the General Manager of Mövenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok, a flagship Mövenpick property established in collaboration with Bangkok Hospital that combines 'wellness' with the convenience of an urban location. A passionate hotelier with over three decades of experience, Bruno possesses a particular affinity for creating unique guest experiences.
Bruno previously led operations for the Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts brand throughout Asia and held various senior executive roles in Jordan and Egypt since joining the Mövenpick team in 2003. Under his stewardship, Mövenpick hotels in Jordan topped sustainability and green hotel best-of lists, along with the Zara Spa at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea emerging as a multiple award-winning spa.
An alumnus of École Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, Bruno began his hospitality career with an eye for the Far East, with time spent in Thailand and China working for Imperial Hotels Group, Starwood, Mandarin Oriental, Le Méridien and Amari Hotels & Resorts (Onyx) amongst others.
What has been the biggest focus for you and your hotel this year?
2020 ended up taking a course few could have predicted. Our first and main priority was to secure employment for our team and keep the hotel alive, which lead to our pioneering creation of the ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) hotel concept. This was further refined through great collaboration with Bangkok Hospital, AccorHotels, the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense. As a result, we gained our official approval in mid April. Now that over 110 hotels in Bangkok are part of the ASQ scheme, it has been important for us to constantly reimagine our service offerings and ensure we provide the best experience possible. It’s all about adding special touches to wow the guest and having amenities that are relevant to them.
Examples include ensuring our à la carte food menu is tailored to different cultural preferences, having many international TV channels available, giving guests the option to browse thousands of online newspapers and magazines for free via the Pressreader application and offering additional items that can be rented and set up in guest rooms like fitness equipment, microwaves and more. Our goal is to make the guest’s stay as smooth as we can and reduce the fear of the restrictive conditions of a quarantine stay by adding some hospitality magic.
What would be your focus for next year?
While we will remain a predominately ASQ property until further notice, we are hard at work on our next project. Currently planned to be ready by the end of 2021, we will be launching our new extension as an integrative wellness destination. Our aim is to become a one-stop hub for comprehensive, all-encompassing health and wellness solutions that combines medical and wellness approaches.
Together with our partners at BDMS Wellness Clinic, we will drive quantifiable and results-driven therapies that are based on diagnostic programming customized to each individual. A deeper focus on preventative health and well-being is something that I believe will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, given current events.
You have been a veteran hotelier and been in the industry for a long time. If there is one thing we learn from crisis what would it be?
Always expect the unexpected. Change is the only constant in life and no plan survives the first contact with reality, especially when you consider the random element humanity brings with it.
But that’s why it’s important to face these challenges with creativity and flexibility along with an open mind and spirit. We must remember that it’s about ensuring people get enriching experiences appropriate to their environment and circumstances, and that these experiences must be delivered in a heartfelt manner.
What kind of skill sets do you think will be important for hoteliers in the future?
I believe that foresight and an open mind are must-haves. You will need to be multidisciplinary and able to recognize market trends and developments. Successful leaders will have to concentrate on the topline and aim to create as many revenue streams as possible, maximizing what they can. When it comes to working with a team, professional delegation skills are key. But more importantly, you must have the self-awareness to assemble a qualified team with complementary strengths that you can still learn from. Leading this team and empowering and developing them to their fullest potential is the way to go.
Finally, it is important to manage your relationship with technology. Use all the relevant tools to keep up-to-date but be sure to keep the human aspect at the forefront. Hospitality remains a face-to-face industry. It is vital to grow relationships and ensure thoughtfulness and human warmth never fades in all aspects of the guest journey.
How do we get our guests back?
What the reaction to the news about vaccine approvals shows us is that people will want to travel soon. You can see this in the successful opening of places like the Maldives, there’s a hunger to explore the world again. Thailand is a very attractive country for both long and short-haul markets. People will return, it’s just a matter of time.
However, this in-between period is also an opportunity for us hoteliers to be more than just rooms and F&B revenue-driven. We must become purveyors of quality, comprehensive experiences that capture the needs of our guests. You can see examples of this concept with hotels and resorts specializing in medical and wellness tourism, or hotels and resorts with integrated theme parks. Hotels will need to reinvent themselves to capture more revenue and remain relevant and competitive. It will be a question of becoming more than being RGI-focused. In future asset management, room revenue should amount to only 40% of the total revenue… but the remaining amount must be gained through activities and experiences.
Learn More about Mövenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok