Arthur Kiong: A Prominent Figure In The Expansion Of Singapore’s Hospitality Industry Through Collaborative Efforts & Strategies

Arthur Kiong: A Prominent Figure In The Expansion Of Singapore’s Hospitality Industry Through Collaborative Efforts & Strategies

Arthur Kiong, Chief Executive Officer

Arthur Kiong

Chief Executive Officer

When it comes to customer service, firms in the hotel sector must provide exactly what consumers desire. Customers put a high value on the whole of their experiences, whether they are staying at a hotel, purchasing from a high-end shop, or having a massage at a spa. As a result, successful businesses need t consider not only the product they offer or the space they give but also the impression they make on the consumer or client as a whole. Given this, the CEO of Far East Hospitality, Arthur Kiong, who has over three decades of expertise in the hospitality sector, upholds a similar outlook.

A veteran of the hospitality business, Arthur has spent the better part of the last three decades working for various renowned establishments such as The Ritz-Carlton (both in Singapore and New York), the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (in Hong Kong), Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and Westin Hotels & Resort. Moreover, as the current First Vice President of the Singapore Hotel Association, Arthur is also a strong advocate for improvement and transformation of Singapore’s hospitality sector. Below is an excerpt of Arthur Kiong’s exclusive interaction with CEO Insights ASIA magazine.

What factors influenced you to pursue a career in the hotel management sector?

In retrospect, I can see that my decision to enter the hotel sector was fairly calculated. The context in which I had to make that decision was sort of intriguing. When I first began, there was only one radio station in all of Singapore and I was a disc jockey for that station. Back in the 1980s, when there were only two major disc jockeys, being one among them I effectively controlled half of the market. I was about 21 at the time, and through my work as a radio DJ, I had amassed sufficient notoriety for individuals to recognize my voice easily; this led me to the realization that I had attained what we can roughly call fame. And I understood that I did not want to do this for the rest of my life. In addition, I learned that it's important to consider what the future could hold 20 years from now. I thought that a situation like this won't last long, especially if you have an audience and can use them to drum up praise for you. When I was 23, I had this epiphany that I would leave everything I was doing and go back to school. I like to think that this was a divine intervention.

Simultaneously, a chance presented itself in the form of a large hotel chain in Singapore that was providing scholarships. To avoid leaving the nation and incurring additional expenses, I decided to enroll in the then nascent hotel school's short training program offered in collaboration with Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, a prestigious Swiss school. That was thus my first experience in the hotel industry.

Define Far East Hospitality as an organization and its current position in the industry.

Formed in 2013 as a 70:30 partnership between Far East Orchard Limited and The Straits Trading Company Limited, Far East Hospitality is a prominent owner and operator of hospitality assets. In the same year that it was founded, Far East Hospitality, via its wholly-owned entity Far East Hospitality Investments (Australia), formed a joint venture with Australia's Toga Group.

We are committed to creating curated & differentiated experiences for our guests

By forming these partnerships, Far East Hospitality has positioned itself as a major player in the hospitality industry throughout Asia and the rest of the world. It presently manages approximately 95 hotels and serviced apartments with a total of close to 16,500 rooms in nine different countries: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Oasia, Quincy, Rendezvous, Village, Far East Collection, A by Adina, Adina Hotels, Vibe Hotels, Travelodge Hotels, and TFE Hotels Collection are Far East Hospitality's 10 distinct and complementary hotel brands.

What has been the success mantra that constantly helps you arrive at positive outcomes?

The phrase "we have a choice of hotels, but we also want to be a hotel of choice" is something I tell myself often. While there is a wide variety of hotels, the question remains: how can I elevate the quality of the hotels I've already established to the level of excellence? And this elevation to excellence can only become a reality provided this thinking becomes part of the DNA and philosophy of the hotel chain. We have developed a diversity of hotel brands that target different segments of travelers based on psychographics, and we are committed to creating curated and differentiated experiences for our guests. This can only be achieved by focusing on the component of the equation that is entirely under my control: motivating our employees to do routine tasks with extraordinary excellence.

Based on your strong professional experience, what advice would you give to the upcoming leaders in the hospitality domain?

Having gone through an exciting career journey so far, I am filled with gratitude that the divine has given me such beautiful opportunities. What I would tell today's youth is to just have tenacity and passion for anything they wish to accomplish. And you'll need to put in extra effort beyond that of the average person if you want to achieve something noteworthy. Upcoming leaders need to have what I call the 3 Cs: 1st C for Conceptualizing the future or envisioning ; 2nd C for selling your ideas with Conviction; and the 3rd C for Courage to execute that vision. Being able to arm oneself with these three Cs would help aspiring young leaders to reach the top in this challenging business.

Arthur Kiong, Chief Executive Officer Far East Hospitality

Arthur Kiong is Chief Executive Officer of Far East Hospitality, which is part of Far East Orchard Limited, a listed company under Far East Organization. Since joining the firm in July 2012, Arthur has been crucial in expanding the company's hospitality management operations via strategic partnerships and acquisitions.

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