Q&A with Arthur Kiong – CEO of Far East Hospitality

As one of the biggest players in the uber-competitive Singaporean travel market, it stands to reason they would have a CEO with a profile to match. Travel Daily sits down with Arthur Kiong the man behind the wheel at FEH, to pick his brains on the companies achievements to date, expansion strategy and how to get the best from Millennials.

TD – With your very successful targeting of the mid-tier luxury hospitality sector, what plans do you have for FEH to maintain and expand on this achievement?

AK – To continue meeting the specific preferences of the mid-tier market, Far East Hospitality will be operating three new properties in Sentosa (site pictured below). The properties – Village Hotel Sentosa, The Outpost Sentosa, and a third hotel whose name will be confirmed at a later stage – are targeted to open in mid 2019.

Sentosa as a regional tourist spot, It has a host of attractions and is easily accessible to the central business district, making it an ideal location amongst travellers who are here for leisure or business. However, the mid-tier segment in Sentosa is underserved. With these three new properties, Far East Hospitality will be able to fill the gap of the mid-tier segment, while catering to the growing category of discerning travellers and Singapore’s robust stay-cation.

TD – The constant pressure to build and grow in this very competitive market, how do you foresee FEH’s growth development in 2018 and beyond?

TK – Far East Hospitality’s thrust for the next five years is to expand our Oasia brand in Asia. We opened three Oasia properties in 2016. They are Oasia Hotel Downtown (below), and Oasia Serviced Residences in Singapore, and Oasia Suites Kuala Lumpur – the first property under this brand outside Singapore.

We are currently in the process of identifying potential properties with at least 300 rooms to expand our Oasia brand across Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

In Singapore, Far East Hospitality is also planning an all-new sub-brand under Oasia, marking the organisation’s entry into the upscale market. Two of our properties in Singapore – Orchard Parade Hotel and The Elizabeth Hotel, grouped under Far East Collection – will also be re-branded.

TD – You have recently entered into a partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board, how did this come about and what do you both hope to gain from the relationship?

TK – Far East Hospitality, being arguably the largest owner-operator in Singapore, has always worked closely with the Singapore Tourism Board.

Firstly, the Far East Hospitality brand of Singapore-inspired hospitality is very much in-line with the Singapore Tourism Board’s new ‘Passion made Possible’ campaign. Our Village brand is currently working with young talents from local art schools to design a “Made-in-Singapore” room in each Village hotel. These newly designed rooms, targeted to launch in 2018, will give young talents the opportunity to express themselves through their passion, and at the same time, provide travellers with a local interpretation of Singapore-inspired hospitality.

Given our diverse portfolio of brands in the mid-tier category, Far East hospitality also understand and have been impacted by the challenges of the hospitality industry more than others. These challenges include the manpower crunch, and evolving traveller needs.

Far East Hospitality recognises the complexities of transforming the hospitality sector’s business model, hence our collaboration with STB will cover both micro and macro innovation. Micro innovations will involve shared services, centralisation, process improvements and automation. Macro innovations are more complex as it involves working with government agencies, industry partners and vendors to create a seamless destination experience for the visitors, attracting local talents to the industry, and building a Singaporean core to support future growth.

TD – The hospitality industry is notorious for having a high staff turnover, what strategies has FEH taken to attract and maintain the best talents?

Millennials account for a huge percentage of our workforce today across all industries. It is undeniable that these individuals have different motivations than previous generations. As employers, we have to evolve our HR practices to address their need for acceptance and affirmation, their definition of recognition and reward, and their impatience for growth and development.

At Far East Hospitality, we take the approach that our people require more ministering than administering. We focus a great deal on creating a family-like culture, where they feel comfortable to express themselves. We also take more time to explain the purpose of why things are done in a certain way and allow them to challenge the process if it can deliver a more consistent and superior outcome.

Most recently, our AMOY team won the Best Front Office Department in the Superior/Boutique category at the Singapore Hotel Association’s Best Department Awards 2017. Quincy (above) was also awarded Best Hotel Experience by the Singapore Tourism Board in May last year. Such awards are important to our people.

At Far East Hospitality, we are also guided by a set of core values termed as ACTS OF GRACE. These values serve as a guide, on the right attitude team members should assume. We believe that this is what makes Far East Hospitality a healthy, positive, and fulfilling working environment. Far East Hospitality also been recognised by Aon Hewitt as the Employer of Choice in 2016.

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