Interview: Bernard Rodrigues, The Charterhouse, Hong Kong27 June 2012
What was your career path before your present position?
The hospitality industry is the only career path I have undertaken within the last 28 years after graduating from SHATEC (Singapore Hotels Association Tourism and Education Center), and Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne Switzerland. I had the privilege to work for diverse brands with like sof Meritus Hotels & Resorts, Dusit Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental Hotels to name a few. Currently I am into my final year with the first online MBA program in International Hospitality and Service Industries Management through GLION, Switzerland and should be graduating in summer of 2013 if all goes to plan. It's the only career I am passionate about, and the only one that offers a diverse and dynamic environment that is sustainable, yet so much is evolving.
Hong Kong is a competitive market. What are the particular attractions of the Charterhouse?
Every hotel has its unique selling points to stay competitive and sustainable, but the key elements of competitive edge and product differentiation is what makes brand and product unique in its own way. I could say the fundamental key attribute of The Charterhouse Causeway Bay, Hong Kong success lies in its PEOPLE, which make the difference. To me it's the internal-branding that complements the external branding that makes the product and service-delivery process genuine and unpretentiously different. Through our efforts to stay competitively focused, and living by our values on continuous training and development, we have most recently been acknowledged and recognized with the “Manpower Developer Award” (MD) 2012/13 through the Employees Retraining Board (ERB), here in Hong Kong.
How has the market changed in your time in the industry, in terms of customer demands/competition?
The major evolution has been technology within the hospitality scene in the last decade. The Internet especially has given more customer freedom when it comes to online shopping or even choices when making their travel and accommodation arrangements to get the best deal. The power of the various distribution channels and ways of communication has thus revolutionized our hospitality and service industry to say the least. For example, WiFi is no more a luxury, but a necessity for guest preference and choice of hotels.
If you have worked in another region, how does Asia and Hong Kong differ?
Unlike some other regions that I had the opportunity to work at, such as in Indonesia and Thailand, Hong Kong is blessed without much adversity - politically, socially or economically, and business is still sustainable.
What innovations or changes have you been responsible for at the hotel, if any?
Keeping in line with the trend, we had introduced several technology and online enhancement to our 22year old hotel to stay competitive. Some of it is to make WiFi accessible in all our rooms, restaurants and public areas, introduce Smartphone check ins, IPTV enhancement in our guestrooms, being socially engaged through various Social Media platforms. These are some of the initiatives we have taken.
How is business at your hotel?
We closed 2011 around 95% in occupancy, and with a Revpar growth year on year by almost 33%. It was the hotel’s best ever year in its 22 years of operation, and we gave back to all our associates a very nice bonus for that year in appreciation of each and everyone’s contribution. At the same time we are also socially responsible, and have been actively participating in community programs such as with UNICEF Hong Kong “Change for Good” and “Feed the Children” over the last 6 years, and most recently took part in the World Vision program too. One of our core values is taking care of our employees and community, that is why for five years straight we have held the Hong Kong Caring Company recognition on being a sustainable employer.
What do you most like about your job?
Its never boring!