Phuket Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa Naiyang Beach, the well-known beachfront resort in the north of Phuket Island, earlier this year announced their newly appointed General Manager, Gerd Kotlor. Phuketindex.com was honoured to have him share about his past experiences and his vision for this new challenge.
Khun Gerd started his career in Sales and Marketing role in the airline business. After six years in Thailand, he finally ended up in the hospitality industry and Phuket Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa became his destination.
What motivated you to go into the hotel industry?
Well, my footsteps in the hospitality industry date back many years. At that time, I was working for an airline company where I had the pressure of overlooking the airline crew contracting for this and that airline and hotel. I never thought that I would end up in hospitality. But as it happened, I eventually made it into this industry and honestly it was the best decision I ever made, I truly, truly enjoy it.
Who inspires you and why?
I draw inspiration from the associates that surround me because they’ve been coming up with genius ideas, with inspiration, with creativity, with energy, with drive and sometimes with different perspectives that I might not have had in my daily routine. Sometimes working in this capacity seems to be daunting and also blindfolds me a little bit so having an open mind with the ears and eyes of my associates really helps me.
What were your career steps before becoming the General Manager of the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach?
These were many steps. As mentioned, I started my career in the airline industry many years back and I did the media steps in between, and then I joined hospitality industry. I was always in operations, also in sales and marketing. I really enjoyed my role but at some stage I thought I needed to put all the good things that I’d learnt along the way together. I needed to be able to bring those back to reality and this is what I’m doing today, every single day, with the beautiful team with which I’m surrounded.
What is essential for you to be successful as a manager? What are the key points?
For me success is defined by very simple things; an open mind, open ears, open eyes and open heart. You should always be receptive to what your peers are telling you, to what your team is telling you. Because at the end they are the ones bringing it to life. Keeping that moment and also keeping this openness, that’s the key to success.
What’s your favourite part about working in the hotel business?
Well, it’s about being surrounded by a fantastic team, really the team. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today. Having a fantastic team to surprise and delight the guests to really be what the guests want it to be. To be beyond where they’ve traveled before, this is what energizes me and drives my desire to move forward.
At work, what puts a smile on your face?
The smiles of happy guests and happy associates. This is really something that tickles me every single day. As long as we’re making people happy, as long as we’re making guests happy and the associates happy, my day is a fantastic one.
How do you stay up to date with trends and regulations in the industry?
Well, by staying curious. Reaching out to my peers, reaching out to industry specialists, this is something that we have to do every single day, not only in our industry but beyond our industry. Sometime what works in other industries might work well in ours and something that didn’t work five or ten years ago might very well work today. So staying relevant also means staying up to date and staying curious.
What are the main differences between hospitality in Western and Asian countries?
If we break it down to the essentials at the end, we just want to surprise and delight our guests. And that’s the same whether it be Asian, European, American or African guests. The expectation is pretty much the same, however the level of the expectation is quite different. I think Asian hospitality has the reputation of being extremely welcoming and forward. For me, meeting that expectation is to fulfill our duty every single day.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge hotel companies will face within the next ten years?
I foresee two challenges; one is staying relevant in tomorrow’s world. Because the expectation of the guest goes way beyond what it used to be 10 years ago. Staying relevant for tomorrow means to be confronted by today’s challenges. Thinking about it, thinking about solutions and thinking how to anticipate those challenges.
The other challenge is to find associates who can carry the burden together with you and develop a company in which everyone aspires to work.
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Well, I don’t know if I want anyone to follow my footsteps! But if somebody wanted to, I’d say to just stay curious, stay funny, and have fun in your work. Ask what is relevant to you, ask what carries your career forward. Just stay foolish, try, fail, get up, and try again. That’s what I would recommend: ‘Never give up’.