HMS Summit discusses productivity, anticipating trends - Insights

HMS Summit discusses productivity, anticipating trends


The Hotel Management Singapore Summit (HMS Summit) welcomed more than 35 speakers and 150 delegates in Singapore on October 22.

Harish Shah, Stratserv Consultancy
Harish Shah, Stratserv Consultancy

The summit is a one-stop strategic platform geared towards senior hoteliers including CEOs, COOs, CFOs, VPs, GMs, Financial Controllers, and executive committee members.

Harish Shah, “The Singapore Futurist” opened the conference with the keynote “Anticipating Game-Changing Travel Trends for a Successful Future”. Using credible Future Studies methods, he helped hoteliers envision future events or developments and position themselves to minimise the stresses and shocks from the resulting impacts. Harish highlighted generation change, sharing culture and technology, amongst others, as disruptors to the industry.

A “Productivity Panel” featuring leading hotel operations and finance executives from worldwide hotel brands reinvestigated existing hotel operating processes and service offerings.

HMS Summit speakers
HMS Summit speakers

“Do we still need multi layers of management for a generation that has been living in this sphere of absolute and utter information transparency?” asked Sara Kearney, SVP of Operations Asia Pacific at Hyatt Hotels. “Take information from the systems that you use to define better processes. Identifying where those processes are actually removing value instead of adding value, optimising technology to enable instead of hinder, looking for those hurdles that get into the way, could potentially find new areas of productivity that don’t necessarily require investment.”

“Eliminate things you do repeatedly but don’t add more values,” agreed Kempinski Hotels VP Finance – China Soo Hin Yeoh. Yeoh further suggested that Asian hoteliers need to boost delegation of authority, citing empowerment of front line employees to make decisions up to a monetary value in Europe and North America as the direction forward. Marina Bay Sands Senior Vice President Hotels Operations Ian Wilson stressed the importance of measurement as a foundation for productivity gains. “At its very root and foundation is doing a better job of measurement. That will be measuring our processes more effectively, as well as our outcomes, measuring from the departmental level all the way to the individual level.”

On the technology front, Marriott International Senior Vice President SVP Operations Asia Pacific Bart Buiring admitted that technologies become obsolete quickly and it poses risks to hotel owner’s earnings. “We spend so much money on technology that it is sometimes a challenge to keep the hotel current. We are looking to change technology from capital expenditures to operational ones.” When asked how they could keep pace with the changing technological requirements of hotels, Nikhil Nath, CEO of productivity technology supplier Knowcross said, “We keep our eyes on the tech world and listen to our customers.”

HMS Summit delegates
HMS Summit delegates

For Lothar Pehl, SVP of Operations and Global Initiatives at Starwood Hotels Asia Pacific, boosting productivity is a team effort that spans across every department in the organization. “Past thinking of productivity was often associated with what people produce. This focus shifted as we now think of productivity by how much net current and future benefit/value we create out of your investment in a blend of people, equipment and time of use. In this conversation you consider carefully what is the right technology for your business, what are the services you have, how do you view operating standards and branded promises. It is a subject that involves multiple stakeholders, from human resources, IT, engineering, finance to the general manager. It is no longer a functional exercise, but a team exercise where everybody comes to the table to find out where the next boundary is,” said Pehl.

At the “Hot Debate”, hoteliers sought directions to maintain high service standards while delivering the return on investments that hotel owners have come to expect. The panelists agreed that creating a culture of service excellence among employees is the key to delivering high customer satisfaction. “The most important thing for us when we open any hotel is to ensure that the philosophy and culture are ingrained into the hotel, as fast as we can, and as pervasive as possible, because if you don’t have that foundation of philosophy and culture, you are not able to drive service excellence,” said K. C. Moy, EVP and Secretary of Board at Capella Hotel Group. Frederic Flageat-Simon, CEO Asia of Commune Hotels, believes that hotels should adopt leaner management structures. “Our industry has always been very traditional, and we need to revolutionise the way we manage people in our industry. In Commune, we want to focus our energy on making someone’s day, creating a culture of helping your employee create a guest day and realising this is what makes a difference, this is why you should come to work,” said Flageat-Simon.

This year, HMS Summit also featured a new productivity technology showcase where representatives from hotel suppliers SALTO Systems, Xn Hotel Systems, and Fourth presented practical case studies.

Display table of IDeaS, A SAS Company
Display table of IDeaS, A SAS Company

Other heavyweight speakers include Bobby Hiranandani, Managing Director, Royal Group Holdings; Marc Dardenne, CEO, Patina Hotels & Resorts; Ronald Tay, CEO, Ascott Residence Trust; Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala, Director, and CEO for Australia and New Zealand, Naumi Hospitality; David Topolewski, CEO & Mobile Learning Evangelist, Qooco; Yim Choong Hing, Managing Director, Mojoojoo Pte Ltd; Michael Ma, Group CEO, IndoChine Group; Symon Bridle, Chief Operating Officer, Rosewood Hotel Group; Ananda Arawwawela, Executive Vice President, Hotel Assets Management, City Developments Limited; Jurgen Ortelee, Vice President – Revenue Performance, Pan Pacific Hotels Group; Fanie Swanepoel, Vice President – Revenue Optimization, Marina Bay Sands; Rachel Grier, Managing Director Asia, IDeaS – a SAS Company; Antoine Chahwan, Regional Vice President & General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore;  Jeannette Ho, Vice President, Revenue Management & Analytics, FRHI Hotels & Resorts; Nicolas Kurban, Vice President, Food & Beverage, Asia Pacific, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Fabrice Blondeau, Vice President Global, Food & Beverage, Luxury and Upscale Brands, AccorHotels.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming industry support received in a time when Singapore hoteliers are in need of innovations,” said Questex Hospitality Group Vice President Ben Isenberg. “With a strong speaker line-up and interactive discussions, HMS Summit proved to be crucial for the future success of the industry.”

HMS Summit 2015 is a partner event of TravelRave, Asia’s premium travel and tourism week. TravelRave provides a dynamic platform for business leaders and industry professionals to convene, share knowledge and insights, network and discover new business opportunities and celebrate Asian tourism at its best.

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