Business China’s Prominent Business Leaders Conversation Explore the Future of Hospitality
On 27 August 2020, Business China successfully held a virtual sharing, titled “Future of Hospitality” as part of its Prominent Business Leaders Conversation. Conducted in Mandarin, the sharing featured Ms Jane Sun, Board Member of Business China and CEO of Trip.com Group, Mr Ang Kiam Meng, Executive Director and Group CEO of Jumbo Group as well as Mr Allen Law, CEO of Park Hotel Group, where they shared insights on how the hospitality sector should innovate and adapt as businesses reinvent themselves to emerge stronger from the pandemic.
Group photo of speakers, Mr Ang, Mr Law, Ms Sun and the moderator Ms Zhao
Ms Zhao Wen Bei, News Anchor from MediaCorp Chinese News, moderated the session. The virtual sharing attracted more than 115 participants, ranging from Business China members (young business leaders, senior executives of corporates and working professionals), youths, entrepreneurs as well as business owners from Singapore and the region.
Ms Sun expressed her views on the opportunities and challenges of the tourism industry. When COVID-19 first struck, there were enforced border closures in China that led to a massive cancellation of tourist orders. Through huge capital injections, she shared that Trip.com successfully eased the concerns of their customers while supporting their partners in the process. However, as the pandemic persisted, she mentioned that regaining consumer confidence was key. As such, Trip.com worked with their travel partners such as hotels and airlines to push out a series of travel deals while lobbying with government agencies and industry players to ease border controls concurrently. Ms Sun provided her observations on the changes in customer demands due to the pandemic, which includes higher demand for safety, smaller travel groups, customised tour programs and requests for flexible cancellation policies. With gradual economic recovery and vaccine development, Ms Sun is optimistic about the prospects for the recovery of cross-border tourism in the coming months.
Mr Ang followed up by sharing candidly on the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry. He started by reviewing the precarious situation that Jumbo Group faced after the outbreak of COVID-19, particularly on the negative impact on their finances. As such, he highlighted numerous cost-savings measures have been implemented as part of their business survival strategy. Mr Ang stressed on the adage “every crisis is an opportunity”. To drive revenue growth, Jumbo Group turned to their e-commerce platform which would be key moving forward. Besides, the loss of tourism revenue saw Jumbo Group turning their attention to the local market, which prompted them to develop numerous products to suit local taste buds.
Mr Law began by sharing that Park Hotel Group’s (PHG) primary task in response to the pandemic was to ensure the safety of every guest and employee by stepping up the standard of sanitation in the hotels. From a corporate perspective, Mr Law shared that conserving cash-flow and upskilling workers were their priorities. From a business perspective, he added that PHG has developed new sources of revenue such as food delivery and ensured that customers had more flexibility in their hotel booking. Mr Law opined that countries with bigger domestic markets such as China and Japan would recover first, while smaller countries such as Singapore could focus on niche markets such as medical and business tourism via “green lane” arrangements.
During the Q&A segment, participants actively asked questions on the use of technology in the hospitality sector and the business recovery in China. Some expressed concerns on Singapore’s tourism industry, the criteria that SMEs must equip to navigate through this pandemic storm and the reserve of manpower and the retaliatory consumption in the hospitality sector.
Group photo of moderator Ms Zhao Wen Bei, guest speakers, Mr Ang Kiam Meng, Mr Allen Law, Ms Jane Sun (top row from left to right), Chairman of Business China, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, CEO of Business China, Ms Tin Pei Ling as well as team members of the Business Leader Group of Business China.
In response to the questions, the speakers stressed the need for cooperation between the government and enterprises as well as being flexible and creative in overcoming the difficulties brought about the pandemic. To overcome challenges, businesses need to adjust their mentality and face reality positively while strengthening their infrastructure and sourcing for new business opportunities.
The virtual sharing which lasted for an hour and a half, was well-received by participants as they gathered insights and trends of the travel, F&B and hotel industries moving forward.