The second annual Hotel Management Thailand Summit (HMT), organized by Questex Hospitality Group, welcomed 150 senior hoteliers from across Thailand. The summit featured inspiring keynotes, panel discussions and exhibitor displays encompassing profitability, productivity, yield management, human resources and sustainability.
A heavy-weighted hot debate on ‘Sacrificing Occupancy for Higher Average Daily Rate is a Way to Healthier Margin’ was moderated by Dusit International chief operating officer David Shackleton. It was agreed that Thailand remains a volume market that offers value for money. Hoteliers need to be smart and realistic when boosting rates, margin and/or return on investment. “Consumers want freedom and hoteliers need to listen to them, not sit in a boardroom and decide,” claimed Absolute Hotel Services founder and CEO Jonathan Wigley. “Value proposition is ever-changing,” agreed Radisson Suites Bangkok Sukhumvit general manager Benjamin Krieg. He added that free breakfast and Wi-Fi are musts and complimentary upgrade works. Burasari Group managing director Lily Udomkunnatum advised hoteliers to look for costs vs. revenue expected per square meters and to make sure room type justifies the investment when building hotels. “Hotels don’t have to raise rate structure to boost average rate,” concurred The Unique Collection of Hotels & Resorts CEO Peter Kaelli. He recommended changing the guest mix and replacing low performers work.
At the closing panel ‘Are Thai Talents Ready for Senior Management Positions?’, hoteliers agreed that cultural differences lead to challenges for Thai’s getting promoted to senior management positions. Dusit Thani Bangkok general manager Sukanya Janchoo observed that Thai’s have to love or like their bosses to work, which Bespoke Hospitality Management Asia CEO Anthony McDonald wholeheartedly agreed. McDonald also added that Thai hoteliers need to better equip themselves in engineering and finance if they have the ambition to become senior managers. Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel general manager Titiya Chooto urged hoteliers to understand the cultural differences [between expats and Thai’s]. “Family is important [to Thai’s] but executive committee and above have to go abroad for large international hotel chains. It is a balance to strike,” Chooto offered. “Thai’s don’t necessarily want to go overseas, but they are willing to put in the efforts and advance,” echoed Leanne Hardwood, IHG South East Asia’s vice president operations. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Asia Pacific senior vice president operations and global initiatives Lothar R. Pehl added, “To nurture Thai hoteliers, recruit for attitude; train for multiple fields; and don’t blame them when they fail because when they come back they will work better than any GMs coming out of the classrooms. Build a safety net to let them know they can fail.” Harwood summed the discussion up with one key message to Thai hoteliers, “Huge opportunity; take risk; support is on the way.”
“The conference hit the right note in many respects with a well-balanced programme that remained relevant throughout the day,” said Klaus Sennik, general manager of Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside. “The panel discussions were well moderated and every panel comprised industry experts willing to share their considerable expertise. The conference also provided a welcome opportunity to network with industry colleagues. This, for me, was time well spent.”
The next Hotel Management Asia Summit Series conference will be in Singapore on October 22, 2015. Part of TravelRave 2015, the Hotel Management Singapore Summit will be co-located with the Hotel Technology Conference, serving up to 350 senior hoteliers covering topics from productivity to value proposition, from finance to food and beverages, and from existing technologies to pioneer systems. For more information, please visit http://www.questexevents.net/hmasummit .