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Experiencing ‘Sanuk’ and ‘Nam Jai’ in Thai Hospitality

The post Experiencing ‘Sanuk’ and ‘Nam Jai’ in Thai Hospitality appeared first on TD (Travel Daily Media) Brand TD.

The concepts of ‘Sanuk’ (fun) and ‘Nam Jai’ (generosity of spirit), make guests feel welcomed, valued, and at ease. Sharing this essence of Thai Hospitality, Erwin van der Veen, Cluster General Manager SALA Samui Choengmon Beach Resort and SALA Samui Chaweng Beach Resort, tells Brand TD more about running the luxurious hotels and how he manages to keep his team empowered and motivated.

Brand TD: Can you share with us a little bit about the hospitality brand SALA. What remains the USP of SALA Samui Chaweng Beach Resort? What is the peak season for the resort?

Erwin van der Veen (EV): SALA Hospitality Group is a prestigious Thai hospitality brand that boasts eight exquisite properties operating under the renowned brands SALA Resorts and Spas, as well as sala boutique. Established in 2004, SALA Hospitality Group epitomizes the essence of personal and private experiences in luxurious settings. The group’s signature tagline encapsulates its commitment to providing intimate and exclusive experiences across its properties, including luxurious beach escapes in Phuket and Koh Samui under the SALA Resorts and Spas brand. Additionally, sala boutique properties, situated in heritage-rich and picturesque locales like Bang Pa In, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and more, offer guests an immersion into Thailand’s captivating cultural heritage and scenic landscapes.

Brand TD:  With your wealth of experience across various parts of Asia, what would you describe as the essence of Thai hospitality? How do you instill the genuine Thai warmth and authenticity in the way you run your hotel?

EV: Having worked across diverse cultural landscapes in Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates over the years, I have come to recognize and appreciate the distinctive qualities inherent in each culture. Among these, Thai culture, with its intrinsic care and warmth, holds a unique place.

Many know that the essence of Thai hospitality is rooted in its graciousness, warmth, and sincere concern for guests’ well-being however not many know where it stems from. It embodies the concepts of ‘Sanuk’ (fun) and ‘Nam Jai’ (generosity of spirit), making guests feel welcomed, valued, and at ease. This approach involves treating guests like family, going beyond standard service to ensure their comfort, and delivering an authentic, heartfelt experience that leaves a lasting impression of kindness and generosity.

As a leader, my approach is to empower my teams, providing them with the necessary tools and encouragement to excel. Amidst the demands of an analytical and administrative environment, I prioritize not only meeting guests’ needs but also being visible and approachable to my team. I firmly believe that supporting and inspiring them is crucial, as they play a pivotal role in ensuring guest satisfaction. This leadership style consistently yields positive outcomes, notably enhancing guest satisfaction, fostering team loyalty, and driving positive financial results. Treating them as how you want them to treat your guests is the cornerstone of this philosophy, fostering a culture of respect, empowerment, and dedication to exceptional service.

Brand TD: How has the hotel fared in 2023? What has been the Average ARRs and RevPAR across 2023. Where did you get the maximum bookings from? Which marketing and sales strategy has worked best for you?

EV: In 2023, our hotel performed commendably, reflecting positive trends across various aspects. We achieved favourable Average Room Rates (ARRs) and Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR), signaling a healthy resurgence in travel.

While I can’t provide specific data, our success was due to a combination of marketing initiatives, including targeted campaigns, partnerships, and an improved digital presence, all contributing to our overall accomplishments.

Brand TD: Post the impact of covid on hospitality, many youngsters are unsure, as to whether to go in for the profession of hospitality. Others have changed careers mid-way. So how do you manage to hold onto, motivate, nurture, grow your hotel team?

EV: Authenticity and transparency are fundamental principles I uphold, both personally and professionally. During the challenging period of Covid-19, the hospitality industry faced immense struggles, leading many individuals to reconsider their careers. Despite these difficulties, I am grateful that our team showed remarkable resilience, and even those who had left during the pandemic have returned. This speaks volumes about the relationships we’ve fostered, extending beyond a typical employer-employee dynamic. I’ve always believed in banishing terms like ‘boss’ or ‘GM’, opting instead for a more personal approach using names.

My way of leading is to treat our team members as family and equals. Furthermore, our hiring strategy involves promoting internal growth for supervisory and managerial roles whenever feasible. We prioritize attitude over skills when hiring entry-level positions, as skills can be taught, but a positive attitude is intrinsic. Additionally, every frontline team member undergoes a final interview with me, focusing not solely on their professional abilities but also their attitude toward work and life. This ensures we recruit individuals genuinely aligned with our service ethos and dedicated to serving our guests wholeheartedly.

Yes, while systems drive and field operations, the fundamental basis of hospitality is the human touch. Understanding the younger generation’s view that work is more than just a job, it needs to resonate with their values. It is more pivotal than ever to value and add value to their experiences, fostering a workplace culture that aligns with their aspirations and sense of purpose.

Brand TD: How do you ensure that the needs and expectations of travel agents and tour operators are met, leading to mutually beneficial partnerships? What kind of incentives do you offer to them?

EV: Developing and nurturing relationships with our business partners, including travel agents and tour operators, is vital to our success, akin to the importance of our property design and service delivery. We recognize the necessity for ongoing engagement, characterized by a mutual give-and-take approach. While we have contractual agreements in place, we extend additional opportunities to our partners through collaborative promotions, joint PR and marketing endeavors, incentives for exceptional sales achievements, and consistent communication.

This partnership extends beyond mere transactions. We actively engage in problem-solving together, participate in events like roadshows or familiarization trips, and accommodate partner requests for firsthand experiences at our properties. Each stakeholder, be it owners, guests, staff, agents, or third-party suppliers, relies on the foundation of our relationships. As a General Manager, I believe in leading by example, ensuring that I uphold these values in actions, and motivating others to do the same.

Brand TD: Going forward, what will be your marketing and promotional strategy for 2024? What hospitality trends do you foresee in 2024 in Thailand as well as globally?

EV: In 2024, our marketing and promotional strategy will pivot towards immersive storytelling and brand-centric initiatives. The approach to marketing has shifted from simply selling a product to creating an emotional connection by selling an experience and a value that deeply resonates with our guests. Our focus will be on crafting narratives that highlight the unique experiences and values we offer, ensuring that our guests feel connected and emotionally invested in what we represent. As for emerging hospitality trends, I anticipate a continued emphasis on sustainability, personalized guest experiences, and the integration of advanced technology to further enhance guest interactions both in Thailand and globally.

The post Experiencing ‘Sanuk’ and ‘Nam Jai’ in Thai Hospitality appeared first on Brand TD.

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