Business of Happiness

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EDDIE CHANG SIEW KIEN

RUNWESTIN CONCIERGE

THE WESTIN SINGAPORE

How long have you been in the industry? It has been almost 10 years now.

Tell us about your career journey. My background is mostly in sports and fitness. I used to manage a fitness club at InterContinental Singapore. I was there for almost five years.

Then, I moved to a sports equipment and apparel company. I was mostly involved in public events that we sponsored such as marathons, and worked alongside the organisers. When you work on public events, you work mostly weekends. It was quite stressful and hard to balance work and personal life.

So, I made the switch back to the hotel industry in 2014. The work culture and learning opportunities that the industry offers are what drew me to come back. I like working for The Westin Singapore because the work-life balance is better. I get to work early and leave early, so I have more time to be with my family.

Tell us about your role and day-to-day duties. MoveWell is my department, and my key responsibility is to lead the RunWestin programme. RunWestin is a global initiative of the hotel group and the goal is to allow guests to experience the outdoors, work out, and get some fresh air, helping them keep to their exercise routine even when they’re travelling. It’s quite competitive to become recognised as a RunWestin Concierge. When I started, I was one of the few Asians shortlisted for the role. So far, I’m the only RunWestin Concierge in Singapore, which is an honour. My job allows me the freedom I need to give my personal best at work.

I take guests on runs around the city based on a schedule. Since most of the guests are here for business, RunWestin allows these corporate guests to see different areas of Singapore instead of staying in the indoor gym. The hotel is located in Marina Bay, so we have a pretty scenic running route around the city to see both new and heritage neighbourhoods. When I show our guests around the city, I like to share the facts and history of the areas. It’s kind of like a heritage tour combined with exercise.

On days when I don’t have a run scheduled, I take care of the WestinWorkout Studio. I work at the front desk, assist the guests and maintain the gym and pool.

Has running always been a personal hobby? Yes, I’ve always been a runner. I organised running clinics when I worked in the sports industry. That experience gave me the knowledge to properly train our guests for runs, and take them through the routes they want to cover. It’s rare to have a career that involves your hobby, so I’m happy that the hotel industry has this role for me.

What’s the most interesting route you’ve done? The most popular route is the 8km. It starts around Bayfront, then we head towards Gardens by the Bay. The highlight of the route is the Marina Bay Barrage, because you get the best 360-view of Marina Bay.

The longest I’ve done is 12km, that took a little more than an hour. The weather gets quite hot, so I always make sure that the guests are comfortable with their runs.

We also have a Heritage route which is 6km. I take our guests to Singapore River and they get to see the Civic District, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. As a Singaporean, I enjoy showing the new and old areas of the city to our guests. It makes me proud to share these places with them.

Tell us about your most memorable experience in the industry Last year, we started Team Westin for the Westin Run X Standard Chartered Marathon. It was an opportunity for guests to train and run the big marathon. We invited our Bonvoy Loyalty Members to join us, and we worked with local running committees. The members were also given a chance to win a stay at our hotel. I helped to plan and conduct the training sessions, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The event saw great interest from the local running community. We had 96 participants on race day, of which about 35% were foreigners.

The initiative showcased the hotel’s unique offerings, it’s like a step beyond the usual experience. It had a strong purpose that resonated with me, and that’s why I thoroughly enjoyed building and training Team Westin in the various running sessions leading up to the race day.

How do you contribute to a guest’s happiness during his or her stay at the hotel? When the guests come in, they’re quite tired after travelling long distances. So, when I see jetlagged guests, I’d recommend that we do a “Shakeout Run,” which is basically a short run to get the body moving and warmed up. After one or two days, their bodies begin to adjust to the time zone. We get guests who keep coming back and asking for me. Some of them would tell their colleagues about RunWestin and encourage them to join my runs.

Do you have any goals you hope to achieve in the industry? I’m very happy at the moment. I get to connect with all kinds of people and share my city with them. I look forward to being more involved in marketing campaigns that promote our running programmes. I like learning new things, so working on these campaigns will be a chance for me to learn the marketing side of the industry.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to work in the industry? You need to be able to work with a team. The hotel staff is like a family, so you need to work with all departments. You’ll be able to achieve more when you work together.