BY SIRIMA EAMTAKO
Warmth, sincerity in the recipe
Advertising guru turned marketing communications specialist, Shelida Buranasiri heads the marketing communications department for TCC Hotels Group, one of Thailand’s largest hotel owning companies with properties in 11 countries around the globe.
What makes you proud looking back at the last seven years at TCC and what’s on the card?
I am proud to have completed the task of setting up the marketing communications department for the hospitality business under TCC Land Group. Prior to my joining at the group, there was hardly any communication about TCC Hotels Group or any individual hotel, not mentioning the much-needed CSR activities.
Moving forward, our goal is to put the name of TCC Hotels Group out to the public both domestically and internationally as the provider of the highest hospitality standard.
What’s it like working for one of Thailand’s largest hotel owning companies?
It is not easy getting the attention and understanding all at the same time, with many properties, different operating procedures and backgrounds of general managers, as well as the target group of each property.
But that is the challenge for my team members and me. That’s the fun part of our work… to come up with a solution to tackle the challenge each day.
What’s a business day like for you?
There are annual plans to formulate, brand presentations and marketing communications strategies to produce, event activities to implement, event productions to manage, media and public to reach out to – to name but a few.
My responsibility is to support all Imperial Hotels and IMM Hotels Group properties – totalling 22 hotels – and to help develop and implement corporate marketing and communications strategy. So every day is busy, but manageable.
How important is it to be a team player?
I believe in good planning and team work.
I don’t believe that one can do anything without the support of a good team. My team and I enjoy working together and we are usually able to cope with any challenges faced within our responsibilities in a timely manner.
How do you strike a balance between your work and personal life?
His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s saying, “one should be responsible for one’s duty”, inspires me. I believe in doing our best within our utmost ability during working hours and spending quality time with my family after.
I also see that my team members aren’t distracted by the various addictive social network platforms, but only focus on work so that none of them will have to stay behind after working hours.
You are known for being warm and hospitable. In your opinion, how important is it to be hospitable in this business when treating a client or a supplier?
Being professional and meeting the international standard is important, but one should never let any corporate norms lord over our inner spiritual of Thainess.
Thais are known as friendly, gentle and hospitable, and so these qualities should be the nature of every Thai working in a hospitality business. Warmth and sincerity is the key in a hospitality business.
BY KRISTIE THONG
All about the people
Armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel Management from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Eva Kwan started her career in the hospitality industry at a grassroot level. Since then, she has risen up the ranks working in major international hotel groups, including Sheraton, Marriott and New World Hotel. Ms Kwan has held the role of director of events and catering at The Mira Hong Kong for the past few years, and as of this June, is in charge of the entire sales and marketing department. As a veteran with over 15 years of experience, she is now responsible for devising strategies for attracting new business, orchestrating events, and attracting MICE organisers through stimulating initiatives steeped in local experiences.
What spurred your decision to carve a name for yourself in the hospitality sector?
When I was young, I was attracted to the glamour and diversity one could find only in the hotel industry. Quite naturally, my professional path gravitated towards events, where I learnt the ropes of tackling challenging plans and exciting executions, and was connected to the most extraordinary people.
Which aspects of your job do you enjoy?
To be able to put my ideas and creativity into a real party with a huge success, making it a memorable experience for all. I am excited managing every event, because each time it is different. The satisfaction comes from a successful event, which is hard to describe with words. We have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest party planners, including celebrity lifestyle guru Colin Cowie.
What are some challenges faced at work on a regular basis, and how do you work to overcome them?
When working in events for a five-star hotel, meeting deadlines is a must and is also a constant challenge. We run several wedding receptions over a single weekend, coinciding with exclusive product launches and VIP banquets overlapping with regional conferences. We handle last-minute requests from guests, encounter ideas that simply cannot be executed but are insisted upon, and cope with extensive requests constrained by budget.
My solution: to set priorities, look for alternatives, and make use of powerful persuasion skills. Above all, to always stay on top of the game, understand current market trends, and anticipate guests’ expectations.
In your opinion, what qualities are necessary for a MICE professional working in hospitality?
You need the right combination of creativity, flexibility, an attention to detail and cultural sensitivity when working with different clients from all over the world. Most importantly, you need to be passionate, as hospitality revolves around people and their needs and expectations. It is our mission to not just meet with them, but to constantly exceed their expectations.
What advice would you give to women interested in an events-related role at
You will have to love a job where routine, time schedules and standards can never be applied. Being able to predict and cope with challenges that will arise during the cycle of delivering an event can save a lot of nerves. When an event goes live, things may not be happening exactly as planned, but this is where experience comes in.
Apart from work, what do you do to continue growing and learning as an individual?
I travel and read novels to broaden my horizon, and take up new sports that I have never tried before. As we live in a fast-paced world, I believe spending time with the elderly and learning about their history can be truly inspiring.