How long have you been working in the industry? Two years nine months.
What inspired you to join the industry?
I was working part-time in a backpackers’ hostel during university. It was an eye-opening experience as I was involved in several aspects of the operations. It was an interesting way to meet and interact with people from all over the world and learn about their journeys and stories. From there, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about working in a hotel or serviced apartment.
I decided to join The Ascott Limited (Ascott) given its global network, and the potential opportunity to work and learn in different countries. I was also attracted to the rotations to various parts of the business offered by the Ascott Management Associate Programme.
What do you do on a daily basis?
I’m a senior brand and marketing executive with The Ascott Limited, looking into every aspect of the millennial-targeted and co-living brand, lyf.
My actual role is quite dynamic. There is no set schedule. I meet new partners, look at social media marketing, and I’m a super user and tester of our new lyf app and website. I’m also involved in coming up with operations, recruitment and training guidelines for all properties, as well as analysing business leads for lyf.
How is lyf different from other hotels, or previous hotels you’ve worked at? lyf is designed and managed by millennials, for millennials. It signifies a new way of living and collaborating as a community, connecting guests with fellow travelers and change-makers. We also organise social and community programs to allow our guests to build connections and be inspired by the exchange of ideas. We hope to create a community, and make the stay experience go beyond just living in the apartment.
How are you and your team at lyf changing the meaning of “hospitality”?
The millennial travel market is growing rapidly and expectations are also evolving. My peers and I have a different set of wants and expectations when we see the world. So we ask ourselves what our customers need and want, and how we can provide it. That, I think, is true hospitality.
With lyf, I’d like to think that we are grasping the opportunity to design products and experiences for the future of travel so that millennials feel at home and part of a global yet local community.
If you could describe your job in one word, what would it be? Surprising. Every day is a new challenge. Every day is an experiment. I love it.
What have you learned since you started working in the industry?
I’ve learnt how to deal with people from all walks of life and challenging scenarios. I’ve also learnt to prioritise. It has been a very exciting learning journey in the hospitality industry, but work doesn’t always end on time. My time and project management skills have improved over the years. It is important to have good work-life integration such that I can also pursue my own interests after work.
There are also the soft skills like how to communicate and hold conversations. Being in the Business of Happiness means that you are constantly conversing with guests and staff, and there are certain norms that should be observed that you don’t really learn at school.
Other things include being empathetic, knowing when to speak and when to listen, and building relations with various stakeholders.
Who do you learn from to make yourself better for the job?
Department heads and veterans who have been in the industry for a long time and have an interesting wealth of stories and experience to share with us. I’ll always remember what one of the veterans told me: “年轻人.不要急.” which means, “Slow down, young lady.” Sometimes, in my excitement, I tend to rush into things without considering the possible issues that may arise. By taking a step back and listening to their advice to look at a project holistically, I’m able to re-assess the situation which can help to avoid further problems down the road.
The Residence Managers provide guidance as well in terms of how to manage a serviced residence, and also give us opportunities to do strategic projects. I also learn from my colleagues. In fact, one of my greatest joys at work is the camaraderie I shared with my colleagues. The team spirit is very strong, and I love how we always have each other’s back, especially during tough times.
Do you think that there’s still room for you to grow, to learn new things and to try new things in this industry? Definitely. There is much to learn and I am growing every day with each new project that lyf throws at me.
If you could offer a few words of advice to people who are keen to join the Business of Happiness, what would you say to them? Come in with an open mind and heart, keep learning and stay humble.