Hotel ICON, an innovative pioneer in the hospitality industry wholly owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), has been awarded by The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) as the 2019 PATA Gold Award Winner in the ‘Education and Training’ category with its ‘We Love to Care’ training programme.
A unique teaching and research hotel offering fully-integrated teaching and learning education approach, this Kowloon hotel is both a luxury hotel and an unparalleled state-of-the-art training facility with a mission to nurture the next generation of hospitality experts. Hotel ICON was the first Hong Kong-based hotel to be awarded the 2016 PATA Gold Award in Marketing for with its ‘Ways to Wow’ video marketing campaign. The hotel also won the 2017 PATA Grand Award in Education and Training for its ‘Being Brilliant Together’ initiative. This year’s 2019 PATA award for the ‘We Love to Care’ programme, therefore, strengthens Hotel ICON’s reputation as being fully committed to developing tomorrow’s leaders today.
Attracting 198 entries from 78 organisations, and individuals worldwide, the 2019 PATA awards put the spotlight on internationally acclaimed organisations for their innovation and excellence in the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.
Dr. Mario Hardy, PATA CEO added, “I look forward to celebrating the accomplishment of this year’s winners who truly represent the values of the Association in working towards a more responsible travel and tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region.”
A hotel unlike any other, where people love to care is at the epicentre of the ‘We Love to Care’ programme which was first launched in 2017. The concept of this winning programme was the brainchild of Richard Hatter, the co-founder of Hotel ICON. The trend-setting and savvy businessman and General Manager, Adjunct Associate Professor identified what the market was looking for. Hence, with a winning concept, Hatter opened the doors to Hotel ICON in Hong Kong in September 2011. In a world of travellers obsessed with the latest design, social sharing and quirky experiences, Hatter and his team at Hotel ICON have been revamping the way they look at service.
The goal of this internal training programme is to develop the skills and knowledge of the hotel’s employees and emerging talents from the School of Hotel & Tourism Management at PolyU. The training programme emphasises empathy, self-awareness and the importance of understanding other people’s perspectives to help resolve issues, manage conflicts and lead teams towards greater innovation and higher productivity.
Richard Hatter, General Manager of Hotel ICON explains that “Memorable service is the keystone to the success of Hotel ICON. You can teach technical service to someone who wants to learn, but in our industry, service happens at different levels. The technical or professional service, which involves doing your job with the right skill and the ‘proper’ way, things like pouring wine, making a bed, cleaning a room or laying a table, etc. There are also the aesthetic elements such as how you say, what you need to say to a guest, staff grooming and how to distinguish whether the restaurant is too dark, too warm or whether the music too loud.”
Hatter added, “The last but most important part includes the emotional element, human interaction and engagement. This is something we have spent one-year designing using ‘service design’. Through our collaboration with the Royal College of Art, we have learned that there are thousands of points of engagement where memorable experiences can be created. With the ‘We Love to Care’ programme we teach that, documenting examples of how service excellence has been achieved. We focus on better engagement with our guests which I see as the biggest challenge in running a world-renowned upscale hotel, especially when we are a model hotel and under the microscope.”
It took no time at all for the unique teaching and research hotel to really take off, getting the limelight over the past eight years with innovative concepts and approaches to service as well as e-commerce, digital marketing, revenue management and sustainability. The hotel has flourished remarkably and maintained its third position among the top five hotels in Hong Kong since then. The winning concept brings forth increased efficiency, excellent reputation and online review scores, morale-boosting, attracting top-class recruits, as well as boosting spending by personal interaction with guests. Even in the starkest economic downturns, Hotel ICON’s occupancies and restaurants remained consistently full at around 96 to 98 percent. Guests and experts in the hospitality field have put much of the success down to the unique attitude of the team of employees, handpicked by Hatter.
While Hotel ICON will continue to build and strengthen upon its mission to become the international centre of excellence in education and research in hospitality and tourism, this latest honour recognises the property’s commitment to providing an interactive and dynamic learning environment where people love to care.
“We are thrilled that the ‘We love to Care’ programme which has taken hospitality to the next level at Hotel ICON has been recognised by such an internationally renowned platform such as PATA and this can only add to our commitment in developing the next generation of Asian hospitality leaders with our inspiring work-integrated programs,” said Mr Richard Hatter, the General Manager of Hotel ICON.