Q&A Anita Chan, GM, Cosmo Hotels
What was your career path before your present position?
Before my career with Kosmopolito Hotels International, I worked with some of the outstanding hotels in Hong Kong. I first joined Langham Hotel Hong Kong as a Sales Coordinator, and then moved to Hong Kong Hotel (now Marco Polo Hotel Hong Kong) as a Sales Manager. After Hong Kong Hotel, I started my career with The Peninsula Hotel Group at Kowloon Hotel Hong Kong in the Sales and Marketing team as an Assistant Director of Sales. I was later promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing. I was then invited by Far East Hotel Group (now named Kosmopolito Hotels Group) to take up the role of General Manager for Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong and Cosmo Hotels.
Is it harder for a woman to make it as a GM in the hospitality industry rather than man and if so, why?
Absolutely not. Being a General Manager in the hospitality industry is not a matter of gender, but a question of being passionate about your job. I am, however, very happy to be one of the female General Managers in the industry to prove that woman can face the challenge. I am currently looking after three hotels including Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong, Cosmo Hotel Hong Kong and Cosmo Hotel Mongkok. When you work for 24-7 operation properties, the key point is to embrace your passion for the job, and be responsible to it, not just to the hotel guests, but also to the hotel employees. When you are passionate about what you do, the hotel guests can sense it.
In your view, should the hospitality industry do more to encourage women to consider a career in hotel management?
There are more women nowadays that are willing to dedicate their careers to the hospitality industry, mostly because young generation females are eager to learn and willing to commit to the job. I believe providing a complete routine professional orientation and motivating them is essential. Now that I look back at my experience, I realize that sometimes that an action may seem small but it does help employees to grow, for example, giving them professional communications training, personal grooming skills, and of course, departmental skills such as updating room rate in reservation department, negotiating skills for the sales department and communications skills for the PR department.
What advice would you give to a young female in an entry level position at a hotel but looking to reach GM level at some point?
My advice would be to be passionate (in life) and keep yourself in the loop. When it comes to the hospitality industry, it is tough but entertaining. Do not be afraid of challenges and be prepared to make yourself heard and ask questions in order to learn.
How is business at your hotel so far in 2011 (occupancy/rates) and how does it compare to the same period last year?
We are glad that our occupancy and average rate are remaining high, and even improving higher [in 2011 versus 2010]. We are always targeting 100% occupancy. For the average rate, we have exceeded our forecast as planned due to our new marketing campaign Stay Connected (for business and leisure travellers) and family packages. I am optimistic that 2011 will be a good year for us.
What do you most/least like about your job?
There are many reasons that I love what I do. One of the main reasons is that it allows me to be constantly seeking and discovering the market’s needs. My least favourite part of the job is that as a market leader, I need to be objective without losing my own personality and observation.