The Official Home for Asian Golf Awards
The prestigious and much sought after Asian Golf Awards programme is now enshrined in its own dedicated web site. This virtual museum in cyberspace is devoted to recognising and honouring the best in the Asia Pacific Golf industry – men and women and clubs that collectively help deliver a world class experience for golf! It is widely regarded as the “Oscars” of the Asian golf club industry. The programme has just finished its 20th year and winners in over 47 award categories were recognized during the staging of the Asian Golf Awards in DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurugram, India. 

CALL TO THINK SHARP AND STAY AHEAD!    
 

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By Stacey James Walton
Managing Director GLS Asia Limited
Director of Banyan Thailand – Hua Hin (Golf, Resort & Residences)


The hospitality field, by definition is a service industry. Its task is to create shareholder returns from their investment by servicing and satisfying guests needs. Industry segments include, among others: hotels, restaurants, private clubs, managed food service, event planning, tourism related businesses, and travel providers. More often than not, the product purchased is either intangible or the perceived quality of the product purchased is impacted by the service method in which it was received.

Let’s look at with the meaning of “hospitality” - the Collins English dictionary refers hospitality as friendly, welcoming behavior towards guests or people you have just met. Also, defined hospitality as the food, drink, and other privileges which some companies provide for their visitors or clients at major sporting or other public events for example.
More recently, the hospitality industry is focused more on creating the “Experience” - the Cambridge dictionary refers to experience as the (the process of getting) knowledge or skill from doing, seeing, or feeling things. It also means something that happens to you that affects how you feel, the way that something happens and how it makes you feel. Understanding “Expectations” is defined as the feeling that good things are going to happen in the future, the feeling of expecting something to happen, against/contrary to all expectations different from what is expected are essential today to keep ahead in a service industry.

Adding to the hospitality equation is the word “Excellence” which is is a key driver. If someone or something has the quality of excellence, they are extremely good in some way. When I worked with Hilton International our brand standards were to provide every guest with 1. Consistent, 2. Personalized and 3. Hassle-free experience.
We focused our service delivery on standard operating procedures (SOP’s) in every department of the hotel. We developed a committee dedicated to identify “hassle hubs” and developed action plans to address the key service issues that we identified causing guests’ frustration or complains such as the time it takes for billing, queuing at check in / out of the hotel and other processes which didn’t seem to work which also included challenging old policies rules and regulations.

We had our annual inspectors checking on a mystery basis on the implementation of our operating standards which was linked to our overall performance using the balance scorecard and bonus. Our operating standard scores was a KPI for both the hotel owner and head office to measure the hotel managements performance. The balance scorecard is a very effective model which we adapt at GLS Asia based at Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin based on our 5-core values (People, Profit, Quality, Customer and Brand) which is our trademark and KPI for hospitality and service excellence. 

The ‘WOW Factor” is a quality or feature of something that makes people feel great excitement or admiration. Hotels and Golf Clubs that want to stay ahead of the game need to build on this component as it brings everything together. The ‘WOW Factor pulls together hospitality + experience + expectations + excellence into creating something that is “Memorable”. We live in a fast-paced world dominated by social media and to stay ahead we must create and develop products, promotions and events to stand out from the clutter. If you haven’t seen the Golf Master Class by Andrew Wood which has 3 stimulating videos and over 550 slides of examples on how to create the WOW factor then you’re not going to stay ahead of the game. International Hotels are well ahead of the club industry when it comes to the WOW factor. The very essence of the WOW factor is about taking the guest experience to a higher level and to do that requires experienced leaders with a flair for imagination and creativity.

The proverb that I stand by is “if you always do what you always done; you’ll always get what you always got” is the change driver and gives me the desire to go out and be different from your competitors. Afterall, according to STR which provides premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for global hospitality sectors say there are somewhat 17.5million guest rooms around the globe.

When I worked for Hyatt International Hotels in the 1990’s they were eccentric about food and beverage operations and concepts which makes them in my opinion one of the most forward-thinking hotel groups in the World as food and beverage concepts are concerned. At the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, the banquet service team would deliver deserts with dry ice riding on bicycles. Theme nights were out of the extraordinary for groups and amazing break outs with magical themes which was completely out of the box than just your normal tea and coffee station.

Mezza 9 at the Grand Hyatt Singapore changed the dining scene forever with open plan kitchens and this was over 20-years ago. Perhaps, we can take a leaf out of the hotel book in our club industry when it comes to new clubhouse designs and concepts. Forward thinking clubs are investing in one of their other main revenue streams on food and beverages. I was impressed with the Centurion Club in London with their Michelin star restaurant Galvins for example and for the past 10-years have experienced the Hyatt Open which has been a joint venture with Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts which is a golf experience that cannot be matched in Thailand combining quality, excellence and wow factors from start to finish. They call it - the “Hyatt Touch”.

At Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin we also created our own series of ‘signatures’, photo opportunities and icons for our members and guests which sets us apart locally. The golf club was built on a pineapple plantation so we made pineapples as our tee box markers. Our signature arrival drink when you check into one of our suites is a Mai Tai cocktail in one of our home-grown pineapples from the golf course.

I was in Scotland this summer, St. Andrews - “The Home of Golf” and this town has it all – The local hospitality was simply outstanding with the culture, history, and of course the magnificent golf courses! Have any of you played Kingsbarns and seen the small starter hut on the first tee displaying poker chip ball markers from all over the world. I played Elie, known as Earlsferry Links Golf Course and the first hole is on steep hill so your tee shot is blind. They have a periscope in the pro shop that you can use to see over the hill for a line and landing area. Examples, of providing the wow factor in Scotland were endless.

To stay ahead with forward thinking hospitality management practices in our operations it will bring the club industry to the next level. However, hospitality is a business and this is where I can’t elaborate enough about revenue management in the club industry. Yielding rates and inventory with peak and off-peak times is second nature in the hotel industry and that there are so many online booking engines we now have to use channel management software. On line bookings are the way forward for the club industry now. Automated self-check in stations may be the future form your iPhone using crypto currency might not be that far way.

To keep in with Hospitality trends I have been a member of SKAL International Hua Hin Thailand for over a decade now and was recently elected President of our Club in Hua Hin – we are a professional association with approximately 15,000 members in 400 Clubs throughout over 90 countries representing travel, tourism and the hospitality industry. Check if there is a local SKAL organization in your area and connect with owners, general managers and tourism related businesses.    

I would like to end this article by sharing with you the Core Values and Heritage of Marriott International that “Success is not Final” and pursuit of excellence is in their dedication to the customer shows in everything that they do. Marriott’s reputation for superior customer service dates back to J. Willard Marriott’s original goal for his business: “good food and good service at a fair price.” We take pride in the details—every day, in every destination worldwide.
Overall, I would like to conclude with a take away from this article with words which are interlinked to the art of hospitality as an equation: Experience + Expectations + Excellence + Memorable + Imagination + Creativity + The Wow factor = More profit for your club business.

The Institute of Hospitality is a professional body for managers and aspiring managers working in the hospitality industry. The institute has members working in every sector of the industry in over 100 countries around the world. Members are provided with free webinars, training materials and management operating standards. If you would like to discuss more about becoming a member please contact me during the APGS by email to stacey@gls.asia