Dusit International’s Chanin Donavanik

IHIF events, attended by the industry’s most senior leaders and leading organizations, provide the ideal venue for learning about critical investment trends in every region of the world. Sharing his professional insights this month is Chanin Donavanik, managing director and CEO of Bangkok-based Dusit International and patron sponsor of IHIF’s Asia Pacific Hotel Investment Conference (APHIC).

For over 65 years, Dusit International has been synonymous with world-class hospitality, delivered with the iconic personalized service that is a hallmark of Thai culture and tradition.

Under Donavanik’s leadership, Dusit International has evolved into a globally respected hotel company and established new locations in Southeast Asia, China, the Maldives, India, the Middle East and North America, across its distinct lodging brands: Dusit Thani Hotels & Resorts, dusitD2 Hotels & Resorts, Dusit Princess Hotels & Resorts, Dusit Devarana Hotels & Resorts and Dusit Residences.

HM: What regions of the world are you excited about in terms of hotel development for Dusit International and why?

Donavanik: In terms of development, we are actively looking to further grow our presence in Asia, particularly in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia such as Myanmar or the Philippines. Our joint-venture company in China, established last year, has got a good momentum underway with upwards of 17 properties signed under management contracts.

The Middle East, where we have had a presence for well over a decade, also remains a key focus and within the next few months we will have two hotels operating in the U.S.

We’re looking forward to seeing what opportunities arise as a result of bringing gracious Thai hospitality further afield, which is as successful outside of Thailand as it is within.

HM: What travel industry trends are having a big impact on hotel deals and even operations these days?

Donavanik: One trend having a significant impact on the hotel industry is the mixed-use project. The high cost of land and development makes undertaking new hotel projects challenging. Therefore, we are seeing a move toward mixed-use, and we are also looking to get involved in this trend. Technology is also having an ever-growing impact on the industry as the number of people booking stays on mobile devices continues to soar. We’re also seeing a great increase in intraregional travel, particularly within the emerging markets of Asia.

HM: How often do you travel in a given month?

Donavanik: More often than I would like to admit!

HM: If you could have any job at any Dusit property, what would it be?

Donavanik: I would most enjoy being a training manager on the human resources team. Few things are more rewarding in life than helping someone reach their full potential, so that they can excel both personally and professionally.

HM: If you could offer hoteliers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Donavanik: Align yourself with good partners, including owners and managers who have a similar vision to you. This ensures successful partnerships and helps mitigate the challenges that can and will arise down the line.

HM:  What is your advice for students considering the hospitality industry?

Donavanik: Try as many different fields within the industry as you can. Travel and work in as many different countries as possible, learning to work successfully within different cross-cultural management styles and corporate cultures. The more you understand about the hospitality business as a whole and where your hotel fits in the greater local, regional and international picture, the stronger hotelier you will be. Also, do this while you’re young, as this becomes harder and harder as you get older!

HM: What makes an industry event good?

Donavanik: The people involved—from those working the event to those in attendance. Getting the right people in the room is key to sparking an interesting debate and is often the hardest part of putting on a successful event.