At HMSS, leading hoteliers discuss management strategies in Singapore

The recent Hotel Management Singapore Summit welcomed 160 attendees from nine countries and regions and featured keynote speeches, panel discussions and exhibitor displays encompassing human resources, service culture and delivery, yield management, food & beverage services, design, business planning and forecasting.

Hotel Management Singapore Summit directly addresses all operational and management challenges facing the lodging industry and provides a platform for hotel executives at both the corporate and property levels to discuss key operational, branding and financial issues directly impacting corporate and property financial performance.

CEOs, COOs, CFOs, VPs, general managers, controllers and executive committee members gather each year to strategize and debate on topics including brand equity, cash-flow management, cost control, innovation and staff retention and development. Industry leaders share their best practices and recommendations with their peers.

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Akiko Takahashi, executive vice president and chief HR/CSR officer of Melco-Crown Entertainment, kicked off the 2014 summit with a speech on leading service culture change, highlighting the inspirational input required from top management to foster a service-oriented culture. A CEO panel followed, featuring Choe Peng Sum of Frasers Hospitality, Bernold Schroeder of Pan Pacific, Marc Dardenne of Patina, Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Collection and David Rees of Salto Systems. Moderated by Michael Sengol, the panel explored ways to streamline internal processes through technology to enable managers to engage clients and staff.

In the revenue management panel, Shailesh Pallipuram of InterContinental Hotels Group pointed out that there is a disconnect between price optimizing and counter price strategies. Best available rates offered by the front desk are often not optimized. In response, Charles Wang of IDeaS – a SAS Company stressed the importance of keeping a business mind to negotiate with guests and following system recommendations of optimum room rates. The food and beverage panel discussed social media strategies, emotional connectivity and unpretentious dining. Tamir Shanel, vice president, F&B, of Marina Bay Sands, stated that F&B trends are transient, and feedback from guests is immediately communicated with hoteliers. Hoteliers have to move faster in adapting to the changing guest palates.

Hoteliers, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and academia faced off in a hot debate entitled “A Large Labour Force is the Only Way to Maintain Service Standards in the Luxury and Upscale Segments.” John Conceicao, executive director, capability & innovation, of STB pointed out that hotel developments in Singapore are outpacing workforce growth, and hoteliers are not going to get the labour force in Singapore. Mohd K. Rafin, Park Hotel Group’s chief corporate officer, suggested that while hotels in Europe are expected to provide a certain level of service, guests expect Asia hospitality to be more memorable, which requires more staff members. Human touch simply cannot be replaced by technology. Dr. Ng Lee Keng of Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), proposed that innovations are collaborative efforts and could solve problems and provide financial gain. They could help hoteliers serve guests better if implemented at the correct touch points. In response, Tan Boon Khai, regional general manager, Singapore and Malaysia, of The Ascott Limited, countered that technology has limitations and that hospitality jobs have to be filled by people, not robots. Robots have limitations on expectation management and guest interaction and cannot replace the guest-facing staff. Ian Wilson, senior vice president, hotel operations, for Marina Bay Sands, suggested that technology cannot replace the art of hospitality or service culture but rather should be used to add value.

Other senior hoteliers who shared their points of view on boosting value proposition, design, business planning and forecasting included Symon Bridle, chief operating officer of Rosewood Hotel Group; KC Moy, executive vice president and secretary of the board of Capella Hotel Group; Dave West, chief technology officer, systems engineering and architectures, APJC, Cisco Systems (USA); Jeanette Chan, chief financial officer - Asia Middle East and Africa, InterContinental Hotels Group; Kim Mooney, chief financial officer, Accor Asia Pacific; Patrick Lawrence, vice president, design & construction, Asia, FRHI Hotels & Resorts; and others.

Commenting on the conference, David Shackleton, chief operating officer of Dusit International, said, “Hotel Management Singapore Summit provides great insight into new trends, best practices from the industry and fresh ideas on how to improve our business performance. The conference is great value and one not to be missed.”

“We are grateful for all hoteliers and sponsors who have contributed to the success of this summit and are honoured to bring insights and innovations to the hospitality industry,” said Marilyn McHugh, Questex Hospitality + Travel vice president, global events.
 
In 2015, the Hotel Management Asia Summit Series will return to four cities, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Jakarta. For more information, please visit the event website at http://www.questexevents.net/hmasummit.

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