Beginning in the hospitality industry at 16 years of age scrubbing pots in the kitchens of Tattersall’s Club in Brisbane, Australia, Hamish’s career within the culinary world spanned 18 years before he decided to remove the whites and slip into a suit. After spending time honing his skills in all operational departments including sales and marketing, he gained a thorough knowledge of all facets of successfully operating 5-star establishments. Having already adapted to cultural variations in the UK, the Netherlands Antilles, China, Japan, and Malaysia, Hamish is now the General Manager at Hilton Kuching situated on the Sarawak River in the center of Kuching on the island of Borneo.

What’s the most challenging aspect of running this hotel?

Being the leader at Hilton Kuching requires the ability to juggle many tasks concurrently, including satisfying the increasing demands of today’s traveler, and developing and maintaining strong relationships with owners, government, corporate accounts, suppliers, and most importantly the team that surrounds us to deliver best in class service to guests. However, in my view these challenges are all part of the job and waking up every morning at 5:30am to start my day with morning exercise helps to ensure there is always balance.

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in your role?

Hilton Kuching has had a number of challenges ranging from sharp increases in rooms and outside catering volumes, to a decline in certain segments due to changes of government. With these changes comes the need to adapt and transform with the market to continue growth.

What’s the ‘essence of hospitality’?

Providing every guest with a curated experience that makes them feel all of their needs are being met. Essentially, every hotel provides the same fundamentals, but a true hotelier knows that by providing a GREAT Welcome, GREAT Breakfast and GREAT Departure and by promptly resolving any issues at the first point of contact, Making It Right for guests will undoubtedly deliver the essence of hospitality.

How has hospitality evolved, and what new challenges have arisen through this evolution?

In today’s digital world, the need to continually deliver real heartfelt service while still being able to maintain touch points via digital tools is constantly evolving and is challenging for the multi-generational workforce.

Are the big brands still winning in this crazy age of OTAs and Airbnb?

Yes, the big brands continue to see positive RevPar growth year on year. Airbnb has its place in every market and those guests who choose that style of accommodation are doing so for the experience.

What are your preferred sources when it comes to learning about hotels?

Networking with industry colleagues; I thoroughly enjoy visiting competitor hotels and learning from peers, mentors, and experienced operators. Whenever my family and I travel we always end up in a hotel whether for a meal or simply to enjoy the facilities. I find that there is no need to reinvent the wheel and there are always ways to refresh tried and tested solutions. Aside from that, Hotelintel, hospitality ezines and online foreign news are always helpful in obtaining insights into current trends.

What books are you reading at the moment?

How to Be a Great Boss, received from our VP at a recent conference. The book details tried and tested methodologies to constantly enhance the environment for our team’s body, mind, and spirit so we all may truly thrive!