The tourism industry is one of the hardest hit sectors by the pandemic, as travel and tourism activities during the early months of the quarantine were limited. Moreso, this coincided with the peak summer season where tourists usually flock to destinations to cool off and unwind with their friends and families, resulting in tourism businesses including SMEs to struggle and bow to the loss of income and revenue.
Fortunately, more and more places in the country are now gradually opening to accept tourists and many SMEs are preparing to start their operations again. In support of the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) efforts to boost local travel, Globe myBusiness celebrates tourism businesses that are hard at work in preparing their establishments for safe, leveled-up and recreated tourism experiences with the launch of Business Diaries.
Business Diaries features pioneering Filipino boutique hotel brand, The Henry Hotel, and its owner and “inn-keeper” Hanky Lee as he shares his inspirations and approach in running his properties, and how technology plays a role in every successful business. Through this, SMEs can be inspired by how The Henry Hotel strives to keep up with the times to ensure a safe and like-no-other experience for their guests.
“The Henry is more than a hotel. It stands for certain values: Filipino values, a Western mind, a Latin heart, and an Asian soul. We are innovative, passionate, and honest in doing our part in making local travel safe and responsible. Through Business Diaries, I hope to impart valuable insights that other business owners can also apply on their own ventures as they strive to rebuild,” said Hanky Lee.
Other tourism business owners will also get the chance to share their own versions of their Business Diaries via Facebook and Instagram story templates, which will be available soon on Globe myBusiness’ social media accounts.
“Globe myBusiness has launched the Business Diaries to educate tourism business owners on the best practices to adapt in the new normal and inspire them to thrive in these changing times,” said Maridol Ylanan, Strategy and Marketing Head for Globe myBusiness. “Together with our products and services, we aim to help them recreate travel experiences by providing best-in-class connectivity and digital solutions to address the evolving traveler needs.”
Follow Globe myBusiness on Facebook or check out Globe myBusiness on YouTube to watch Business Diaries featuring The Henry Hotel.
For more information, please contact:
Yoly C. Crisanto
Head, Corporate Communications
Globe Telecom, Inc.
Leaders of the Philippine tourism industry, together with Globe myBusiness stakeholders, gathered to explore and champion technological solutions that will help shape the future of Philippine tourism. The jam-packed event, which was held last March 21, 2019 at the SMX Convention Center in SM Aura, saw travel and tourism experts take the stage.
Each speaker painted a big picture of what the local tourism sector is like nowadays, and how technology can catapult the industry to greater success. Time to heed their advice:
Ernest Cu, president and chief executive officer of Globe Telecom, said that the warmth of the Filipinos and their heart for service have been a major driving force for the tourism sector. “We need to develop the facilities—that’s something that our government is doing, and we’re helping with [that]. I believe our people are the warmest, most welcoming people there are. We need to acknowledge and make the most out of that.” He went on to add that Globe’s initiatives and product offerings are geared towards making the tourism sector more efficient, and in turn, making it more lucrative. “We at Globe would like to support this industry because [it] needs a lot of updating [for it to adapt to] the digital world. Digital is changing how things are done.”
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was the keynote speaker for the event. She generously painted a picture of how the efforts to revive Boracay was painful at first, but it has benefitted the destination in the long run.
She stressed that sustainable tourism is the core of the country’s tourism campaign. “We will be advocates of responsible tourist destinations and we will be champions of sustainable tourism to create a dependable source of income for Filipinos. She also cited that the bayanihan spirit of the Filipinos is perfectly aligned with the department’s efforts to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint without sacrificing the booming industry. She further added, “With all the positive changes that we aim to bring forward in the next four years, we invite the private sectors to be our partners in responsibly developing tourism products, infrastructure and services.”
Filipinos are fond of giving unsolicited advice or tips, and as Destination Marketing Manager for TripAdvisor Gary Cheng said, the strength of TripAdvisor lies in its authenticity—the reviews it gets from its users. While most people are spurred to write a review just to criticize, users are able to discern and choose which ones to believe. Ultimately, this sways their decisions on what to do or see, or where to go or stay.
“We are a prisoner of our own tourism,” Raoul Villegas, executive director of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) boldly stated. He went on to say that government support is crucial when it comes to keeping up with the demands and standards that tourists have come to expect when traveling. There is also a need to improve on a number of aspects, like adding more airports, for instance.
Desiree Bandal, head of Government Policy and Government Affairs of Air Asia, echoed what most Filipinos love: getting the most bang for one’s buck. Low-cost airlines have opened the doors for more Filipinos to travel, while prioritizing experience over luxury. No-frills airlines such as Air Asia create this exciting opportunity.
In recent years, Instagram has created avenues for small businesses to flourish. Alexander De Leon, product marketing manager of Instagram Asia-Pacific, said that the hugely successful social media platform can drive customers—by the droves—to your business. Instagram posts, Stories, promos, links, and even geotagging greatly helps create awareness. Employing Instagram ads also puts your business in front of your target market without much effort.
Gino Borromeo, McCann Worldgroup Philippines’s chief strategy officer, presented trends in traveling. According to Borromeo, solo female travelers and “babymoons,” among other trends, are taking precedence this year. But one thing has remained constant: experiential traveling. An ideal destination need not just be Instagrammable; it must be also unique and memorable enough for a fickle-minded traveler to bookmark.
In the talk of Hanniel Almasco, Master in Public Management and environmental officer of El Nido Resorts, she stated that even with the growing number of visitors that head to El Nido, Palawan, environmental protection is an attainable goal with the help of tourists . Partnering with tourists to promote responsible tourism can also be done elsewhere.
Some stakeholders unfortunately put profit above all else. However, AA Yaptinchay, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and executive director and founder of the Marine Wildlife Watch Philippines, warned that disregarding the environment might seem cost-effective at first, but that also means essentially killing off your livelihood in the long run.
Proper protection of marine life, for instance, will benefit both the ecosystem and the stakeholder. As a tropical country, the Philippines has a diverse ecosystem. Marine creatures, like sea turtles and colorful corals, are great tourist attractions, said Yaptinchay. But while these are pretty to look at, tourists should be mindful enough not to disturb or destroy them; and stakeholders have the responsibility to protect this biodiversity if it is to continue being a tourist attraction.
Michelle Tapia, head of Strategy, Innovation and Transformation of Globe myBusiness, reiterated the company’s commitment in providing what small and medium enterprises specifically need. According to Tapia, startups have the urge to drive down expenses while maintaining their competitive edge. “SMEs have a very diverse and unique set of needs,” she explained. “We want to make sure that the challenges of aspiring new entrepreneurs, like providing digital material, selling online, operational efficiency, will be provided. We also have the business solutions for traditional entrepreneurs who want to scale or expand globally.”
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While it is easy to get lost in all these, hoteliers adapt by turning their own accommodations into destinations themselves. It takes a lot to add one feature after another while pleasing target markets and earning a steady flow of patrons. However, it’s not impossible.
This is what The Henry Hotel has done in the course of its expansion from Cebu to Manila. Within a humble compound in Pasay City, Mr. Hanky Lee, the hotel’s owner and chief executive, created a boutique hotel from restored heritage homes.
Check out these five tips on how to transform your hotel into a perfect destination from Hanky himself, and learn how you can achieve success:
Ambiance plays a key role in attracting guests, because they often consider hotels as their homes for the interim of their stay. This is why investing in that home-like ambiance through design, service and amenities is crucial for hoteliers.
In the case of The Henry Hotel, Hanky revealed that giving attention to detail turned out especially well for them. He says that their mantra is to make sure that every room always looks brand new.
On top of that, The Henry Hotel is also in a strategic location that accentuates its home-like vibe. Even with the addition of a restaurant, garden, pool, and gift shop, the hotel was able to maintain an ambiance that screams home thanks to its environment.
“The Henry Hotel Manila is what I consider a jewel. It is a magical place. You’re right in the city, but you find birds chirping and mature trees. It’s like an oasis that’s like no other. You do not see this kind of ambiance in Metro Manila anymore,” Hanky says.
Change is the only thing that’s constant in the world, and this statement applies greatly to hotels. Adapting to the current market demands and creating something new out of what you already have is important for your establishment to survive and prosper.
Reinvention should be welcomed because it is a way to positively develop as a business. For hotels, it can be done in simple ways like adding new facilities, changing up interiors, or using technology to improve overall service.
For The Henry Hotel, reinvention came in a unique way. In its Manila hub, it mixed vintage glamour with modern luxury through its restored heritage homes — something that not every competitor can offer.
“If you want to get into hotels [and] you have a certain location in mind, I suggest you take a good look around and check your competition. After that, you have to determine what type of lodging facility and guests they have, and see what you can bring to the table,” Hanky says.
Filipinos are known around the world for their hospitality and their great way of welcoming guests to the country. Even big names in the international hotel industry recognize this, opening jobs for Filipinos in top-notch tourist destinations.
Mastering hospitality is essential for every hotel, and it can be done by training your service crew adequately. With the right approach and use, Filipino hospitality can go a long way, especially for local hoteliers.
According to Hanky, playing to your strengths is important when running a hotel. This was clearly shown in how The Henry Hotel’s crew conduct themselves in the presence of guests. They are approachable, knowledgeable, helpful, and optimistic.
“One notable feature we have is leveraging on the Filipino. As we all know, [we] Filipinos have this innate talent or knack for hospitality. We do not have foreigners who work for us. It’s all Filipinos,” Hanky says.
Doing business is more than just earning profit; it’s about fulfilling a mission that’s beyond any monetary gain. With a purpose in mind, entrepreneurs have more reason to keep going not only for themselves, but also for their teams.
Hanky built The Henry Hotel out of his love for the Philippines. Among the things that keep him going is the fact that the world has not yet seen how beautiful the Philippines is.
“I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the Philippines. Our country is really beautiful. Wherever you go, it is blessed with natural resources and sights. Our people’s hospitality is authentic and the way we take care of our guests is second to none. One feature of our hotel is that it celebrates the Philippines,” Hanky says.
In addition, Hanky reveals that they tap local artists when developing the designs for their hotels, making sure that their interiors are authentically Filipino. They also work with social enterprises that extend a helping hand to marginalized communities.
Take these tips to heart and transform your hotel into a perfect destination! Steer your way to success with help from leading experts in the field of tourism. Sign up to Globe myBusiness Academy Online and receive exclusive content that will help your business succeed.
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