Hotel director faces tough battle for guests
After joining the hospitality industry, Kevin Lam, director of sales at InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, discovered that he was so fascinated by the flexible job nature of working in a hotel, he decided to further his education in hotel management.
He tells Wong Yat-hei that, having joined InterContinental 10 years ago as a sales manager, his willingness to learn and develop his market sense has seen him get promoted to head of his department.
What is your academic background?
I graduated from DCT Swiss Hotel & Business Management School in Switzerland with an advanced diploma in hotel management. I then completed a degree in hotel management at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Professional and Continuing Education.
How does an average day go?
I start by reading sales reports. I keep an eye on the numbers every day. At 9am I will have a briefing with the team to tell them sales targets and assign them to meet clients. Throughout the day I will discuss quotations with staff and reply to emails from clients. At 5pm we will have a debriefing for staff to recap what they have done during the day and I will provide guidance if needed.
What does your job entail?
I oversee the operations of the sales department. I analyse sales figures and come up with promotional plans. I also spend a lot of time giving my staff support with guidance and coaching. Modern-day managers should find out if their staff are having any difficulties and help them out instead of shouting at them.
What major challenges have you encountered so far?
The competition in the local hotel industry has never been so keen. With many new hotels opening in Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and the mainland, the market is highly competitive. Coupled with clients cutting their business-travel budgets because of the gloomy economy in Europe and the US, our job is really challenging.
On the operations side, many young staff do not yet have idea of what they want to do. Many work with a “wait and see” attitude and turnover rates are rather high. I try to give my staff development opportunities to convince them to stay.
What are your future plans?
I like to set career goals for myself. I have set myself a three-year goal, a five-year goal and a 10-year goal. My last 10-year goal was to become a department head and I achieved it by becoming sales director.
My next plan is to become a general manager of a hotel and I hope to achieve that before the age of 50. To do that, I have to polish my leadership skills and develop the ability to think a step ahead.
What advice can you give those interested in your industry?
If you want to work for a hotel you have to get used to others having fun while you have to work. Holiday seasons are peak seasons for hotel staff. Although sales staff do not need to work shifts like operations staff, they usually start off in operations before moving on to sales.
A salesperson should be a good listener who knows how to transfer a client’s request into benefits. They also need to be aggressive, try everything possible to make sales and follow up client inquiries quickly.