Dirk De Cuyper: Building Hotels & Resorts With Vision, Focus & Leadership

Dirk De Cuyper: Building Hotels & Resorts With Vision, Focus & Leadership

 Dirk. De Cuyper,   CEO

Dirk. De Cuyper


The growth of tourism has driven the hospitality industry in Thailand, including international, domestic and independent hotel brands. Leading the exclusive hotel space is S Hotels & Resorts a fast-growing holding company that engages in the management of hotels and resorts and investments in international locations. With impeccable foresight and vision, CEO Dirk De Cuyper has grown the company exponentially. Under his guidance, the company has already reached great heights and aims to establish itself as a premier international hospitality management and hotel investment company. Dirk's vision sees S Hotels & Resorts setting new standards for leisure and lifestyle based on a philosophy of sustainable development and driving benefits to the local community. He follows his ethics and values because for him, besides heading an international diversified enterprise driving top and bottom line performance, it's equally important to understand the needs of the employees, guests and all other stakeholders.

CEO Insights ASIA engages in an exclusive interaction with Dirk De Cuyper, in which we discuss the company's growth, its journey and his story.

Tell us about your professional background and experiences. What inspired you to take up the role of CEO at S Hotels & Resorts?

I grew up in the hospitality world in Belgium, where I'm from. I've been in the business for more than 30 years now, working with international brands in the US, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and now in Thailand, where I'm currently based. I joined Singha Estate seven years ago as Chief Hospitality Officer to broaden my traditional hospitality horizons from general management to an entrepreneurial and more dynamic startup business.

I was interested in developing global business platforms, with decisions having an immediate impact on the growth and take on full responsibility for the business. So that was the key motivator for taking up this new challenge. CEO role came with the listing of the hospitality division in October 2019.

You definitely need to wear multiple hats as a leader. You need to have a clear vision and you need to translate this to your whole team so that they understand it and know which direction you want to go

What would you say is unique about your style of leadership?

You definitely need to wear multiple hats as a leader. You need to have a clear vision and you need to translate this to your whole team so that they understand it and know which direction you want to go. Business is very dynamic and progressive nowadays, so you need to adapt quite quickly and make sure that your team is following you with a clear set of guidelines. It's important that your vision is understood so that your team can participate and feel part of it. Additionally, you need to build empathy, encouragement and empowerment because after all, company success is not individualized but rather a result of collective efforts.

How have you kept S Hotels & Resorts afloat in the industry?

He pandemic has fast-tracked the digitalization process within the industry, and we have accelerated the integration faster the past two to three years. We have been investing significantly in the digitalization of our platforms to improve customer experiences and to understand our guests and consumers better with focus on personalization and loyalty. It's also helped us tremendously in managing our business, inventory and demand.

What has been the success mantra that constantly helps you arrive at positive outcomes? What are your goals for the future and why do you strive to achieve them?

Resilience is the key. If sudden challenges come up, you need to act pretty quick. You can't put yourself in panic mode; you analyse it and come up with plans and strategies that will help you cope with the changes. You need to deal with it and move on quickly.

We are global players: the team spans from the UK all the way to Fiji. So, adaptation, strategic mapping and planning have been key to understanding what's going on in these markets. We continue to develop our homegrown Thai-inspired upper upscale brand, SAii, rolling it out regionally as a first step and with global awareness as a long-term aim. We are looking to accelerate our growth within the next five years and our ambition is to have SHR positioned as a leading market player in the regional and international hotel investment and hotel management scene.  

What advice would you give to upcoming leaders in the same industry?

A good leader shares a clear vision and strategy with his/her team. We've seen big changes in hospitality recently, including full automation and the use of big data. You need to be able to quickly adapt and adjust part of your strategy if necessary to cope with a changed business environment as we experienced the past two years.

It's important to work on, build up and communicate with your team, and to give room for creativity. It's important to understand the emotional intelligence component of your people to create a balance so they can work closely in a way that is positive for their personal development and for the company growth.

Hospitality is still a people-oriented industry, so having a passion for people will be part of your success.

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