The new general manager of Millennium Hilton Seoul was surprised by strong demand for staycations here.
German-born Felix Busch, who joined the Hilton group 17 years ago, took the post here in August following stints in Edinburgh, London, Sydney and Nagoya, among others.
“It is very popular for Koreans to escape for one night. Although they may live in Seoul, they check into a hotel in Seoul to have a night away from home. I think this is slightly unique to Seoul,” Busch told The Korea Herald in an interview at the hotel on Friday.
“It is important to cater to the needs of children and to create an environment where it is nice to be with the family,” he said, as a general manager and the father of two daughters. “This is what hoteliers need to remember: not only to think about adults but also think about children.”
However, Busch thinks Millennium Hilton Seoul should not define itself just as a family-friendly hotel. He views the 680-room hotel as a strong business hotel, too.
“It is about diversifying your business. It is never healthy to be only one. In order to be sustainable and secure in different business trends, you need to diversify your portfolio,” he said.
Busch most recently was the general manager of Hilton Nagoya Hotel in Japan. Though he did not speak any Japanese in the beginning, by the time he left the country, he was able to communicate in simple Japanese.
“My intention is to learn Korean. I will have lessons in due course. For me, this is very important,” he said. “I believe the language barrier is there, and it is very important to overcome the barrier.”
“But I don’t believe that you need to speak the language fluently to break the ice. Regardless of the language, having a relationship with the team members makes a big difference.”
Apart from sales, one of his foremost concerns is improving the working environment for the hotel’s employees. He hopes to renovate employee facilities at the 36-year-old hotel.
“Before, the renovation was made on something outside or guest areas, but this time, the priority will be on the ‘heart of house’ (supporting staff). You need to have nice working conditions, changing rooms,” he said, adding that meals for staff should also be improved.
“One of my beliefs, actually what I do, is that it is very important to have a work-life balance. I also encourage my team to do that. They have work-life balance, they are able to do the job more energized and thoughtful. I am not judging people by the number of hours they work but the results that they deliver.”
Through the improvements in the working environment, Busch expects staff to be able to provide better service to guests.
“When we talk about hospitality, it is not about providing a bed, bringing a meal. It’s about the experience and the service you get,” he said.
By Im Eun-byel (email@example.com