“AT Boulevard Hotel, our business model is slightly different from that followed by normal hotels,” says James Loo, general manager at the four-star Kuala Lumpur property.
Having served the hospitality industry for long, and having worked with some of the top names in the industry – including a 14-year stint with the Shangri La – Loo has his own version of being successful in the hospitality business.
“It is all about serving our guests with a personal touch and allowing them to have what they want rather than stocking up what we have. It also allows us to maximise the utilisation of the integrated facility concept that we have developed, whereby the hotel is attached to a mega mall,” says Loo.
A quick glance into the mini-bar in the room gives you what the philosophy is all about. The refrigerator stands empty, with the words ‘this refrigerator has been kept empty on purpose’ inscribed within.
“With the Mid Valley Megamall, only a door’s distance away, we allow our guests the liberty to do their own shopping,” says Loo. The mall has over 430 retail outlets, themed restaurants, cafés, bistros, and two international food courts all tucked up in 9 million sq ft of prime commercial space. In addition, it also has a host of recreational facilities such as a 38-lane bowling alley and IT World, fitness centre, 18-screen Cineplex, children's entertainment centre with complete range of fun and educational facilities, selection of aromatheraphy spas and 48,000 sq ft of exhibition space – Mid Valley Exhibition Centre.
“Through this approach of we are aiming to achieve more from what we have,” says Loo. Such a strategy, which is fast catching up in the rest of Malaysia, has allowed us to allow the careful utilisation of the facilities within the mall as well as what we have to offer at the hotel. It also provides our guests a better experience.”
“In addition, the fact that we do not stock for our guests has also brought about savings in both cost and time. It is also quite environmental friendly,” says Loo. “Since we do not do the stocking, we do not have to spend time on checking on inventories. But in certain cases, as in regular guests who stay for more than a month, we do stock up shampoos, soaps, and other consumables of their choice. This approach has had a positive impression on most of our guests.”
So what other ingredients has Loo put into the brew to make the year and a half old, work and pick up some brisk business? “From its inception, we have been running the hotel based on three key words,” says Loo. “Friendly, fast and efficient. Although most of the staff is new at the hotel, they are learning how to base their service on these three key words. Now it is the time to walk the talk. We have a young workforce whereby more than 75 per cent of them are below the 25-year age group. This has made it easy for us to train them to our standards.
“Our recruitment strategy has been based on the mantra of hiring attitude and training skills. This is the best way to run the industry, but there have been instances where we have hired experience as well.”
“The key is also to keep learning a continuing process. There are things I learn every day and that is what I tell my staff as well,” he concludes.
by V Kumar