A nice welcome smile and natural friendliness of Mario inspired me that all the questions asked which I originally prepared totally ran-off my mind. I only listened to his warm and articulated presentation. Indeed an impressive character one must have as a professional hotelier I would say!
He is also seen by many as the leaders in hotel industry, he talks about leadership as he sees it and simply that a group of people who come together in a mutually reinforcing system to accomplish something greater than any individual. So leadership is not just for people who have ‘president’ in thier title. Leadership is an attitude , a disposition, and a way of approaching the challenges you face everyday.
MB: I was born in a small village in Germany. When I was in my teen years I traveled with my parents to a ski resort and stayed in a mountain hotel. I was attracted to the hotel service industry while experiencing the professional service they provided. The way we were pampered by the hotel staff was a deciding moment for me and I made a decision to join the hotel service industry. For the past 23 years now, I have worked my level up from a waiter in Germany. Later I was fortunate to travel to other countries, some years in England then to the United States and in the continent of Africa. I returned to the United States again for a short while and eventually saw an opportunity to come to Thailand where I started off in Pattaya and moved on to Bangkok in June 2011 as General Manager of Emporium Suites by Chatrium. It has now been 2 ½ years, quite differently but perfectly settled.
To what do you attribute the success of Emporium Suites by Chatrium?
MB: From the very beginning of its opening, Emporium Suites by Chatrium has always been very successful due to its location plus the added surrounding amenities of the adjoining fashionable shopping mall, direct access to BTS Phrompong Station and the convenience of ample parking. We are also catering to both short and long stayers. However, the big success of this property is mainly due to its extraordinary employees. They have made the difference with their friendliness and personal touch in welcoming the guests and making them feel remarkably at home.
Due to the slow down situations in Bangkok, how do you sustain the hotel revenue?
MB: Definitely many hotels in Bangkok have seen a drop in occupancy and so do we. However we do have a good number of returning and long-staying guests that trust and believe in our product and service. They also know Bangkok rather well. While they are concerned about the situation they have a positive outlook about Thailand. Thailand has gone through a similar situation in the past – a down economy, natural disasters, etc. – and Thailand has recovered quite well. We remain to be positive in every way.
Reference to the above answer, as a leader, how do you encourage the team on what is the best decision that you have taken, was that a challenge to you?
MB: Difficult situations come and go as part of this vibrant hotel industry. Each difficult situation can bring challenges as well as opportunities. As I have said earlier, we have a good number of returning and long-staying guests. Their loyalty has kept us afloat. The effect to our hotel and employees has not been as significant as to the other hotels in Bangkok. We always work as a team and our employees are clear about what we have to do in a crisis situation.
What are your strengths & what is your greatest weakness?
MB: I would say I’m an approachable person who inspires people to work together as a team. My outgoing personality and being open minded make it easy for people to come to me, open up and interact. I believe in encouraging my employees to make their own decision in their respective areas of responsibility. This is part of the team spirit. Also each employee has a set goal and as a leader of the team I see to it that we stay within these goals and that we grow together. This achievement is reflected in the recent award we received from TripAdvisor. We were named as Top Hotel along with four other luxury hotels in Bangkok. We are also ranked 16 out of more than 4,500 hotels in Thailand voted by the travellers around the world that have visited Thailand and have given their feedbacks during their visits.
How to get here in your position?
MB: (Lightly Laugh)…Well, I’ll make it short for you. There are people who work their way up from the bottom to the top, whatever that be. If you believe in yourself, certain things are achievable with or without the formality of an educational degree. In my case, I really made it to the top from work experience combined with formal schooling in between. Later on, I earned my bachelor degree. Having had the experience of working from the bottom of the hotel organization, I could easily understand employee’s various situations, solve issues and make appropriate decisions as necessary.
What’s your vision?
MB: I’m happy in my current position as General Manager of Emporium Suites by Chatrium. The culmination of my career, however, doesn’t end as a General Manager. There is more to reach and look forward to in the hotel industry like being a Vice President and CEO. Perhaps one day I’ll also open my own hotel, but let’s see!
By: Sunny Alisa
Photographer: Polthanawat Yonyot
Credit: Luminesce Magazine at http://www.lumimg.com/taste_page.php?id=453