The new challenge on this new normal way of S Group Hotel
It has been over 10 years that the S Group Hotel is in this accommodation business. Mr.Sarun Limsawatwong or K.Nueng, is still working with passion and fun. “I am having fun as I open the new hotel. I love welcoming the first guest group to stay at our hotel.”, he said. It is good to have a work-life balance, a time for himself, a time for exercise, and a running marathon challenge in the world-class competition. The feeling that he reached the goal after training hard is the same feeling as opening a new hotel. Let’s find out what is his secret success, working perspective, and how he could deal with this challenging situation.
The story of “S” hotels
In the past, there were not many hotels, and naming a short and location acknowledgment is a pro. The first hotel in our S Group Hotel chains is on the entrance of Soi Sukhumvit 15, so its name is “S15” while the “S” is from “Sukhumvit” and “15” from Soi number. This short and easy-to-remember name is one of our signatures, especially for foreigners because the short name comes with easy calling for public transportation.
There are 6 hotels in our S Group Hotel these days which are S15, S31, S33, S Box, S Ratchada, and S Ram, respectively.
For S Box, it was my neighborhood-uncle’s land and he wanted to sell so I bought it. However, it is only 100 square-wa so it was difficult to build a hotel that needs to comply with a gap around the building regulations and under 12.5-centimetre room-wall plaster to maintain the vibe and room size. This is why S-Box became the box pattern. Also, this hotel is on Sukhumvit 31 as same as S31, so we changed the name to be regarding the hotel pattern. Likewise, S Box’s staff dress with jeans to be more relaxed and suited to the hotel and customer characters.
Although S Ratchada and S Ram are not on Sukhumvit Road, we insist on preserving the location name concept.
Experience since the father generation
K.Nueng’s business started from his father's generation which was a construction service. Then his father was getting older so he began to start the hotel business that can be transferred to his children. It was starting from a small one because he had no experience at that time. This is why K. Nueng had a chance to learn about the hotel business. Since K.Nueng had finished studying interior decoration and design abroad and it was the “Hip Hotel” era (The hotel with modern design and reflects the character of its guests). Thus, his family has turned their first hotel into the hip hotel at the entrance of Soi Sukhumvit 15.
At the beginning of the S15 hotel business, K.Nueng hired a hotel-chain team to help the management but they ended up in conflict so he decided to do this based on his family knowledge. It is true that everything can be learned, and hotel management is one of them. Wanting to understand finance, you can consult the bank. Wanting to know a proportion of each spending category, you can study from the hotel report from the stock market. K.Nueng bought other hotel indexes and received their annual summary report. He compared those hotels strength and applied to his hotel. In addition, the standard things such as bed thickness and firmness are based on his previous hotel-chain team and finally, he got his own knowhow.
S15 hotel has grown its reputation, so K.Nueng started the next one, S31. Customers and price rate for these 2 locations are not significantly different, so he decided to build a smaller one at Sukhumvit 33 or S33 Compact which attract new-faced customers, especially the Japanese organization clients. K.Nueng told us that Japanese companies arrange accommodation regarding the employee level. The management level stays at S31 where outlets and spa are to support their needs. Then the lower rank stays at S33 which is not far from each other.
Learning for a better customer understanding
Before the first opening day, K.Nueng and all employees had tested the whole hotel systems as if they were customers. Pretending to try all services whether sleeping, toilet usage, hot-cold water, water pressure, television receiver, and also room service. After that employees must submit the report to K.Nueng. If any defect or inconvenience is found, repair and maintenance are needed before the real opening.
The strength of the family-owned hotel business is quick decision-making and easy to adjust compared to chain management. No matter what circumstance happens whether bird flu, airport shutdown, or a massive flood in 2011, we can adapt our strategy to comfort the customers. It is more flexible but relies on rational and customer happiness. “Treat others like how you want to be treated. This is how we serve our customers.” Even the food tastes, we have to learn what is the best taste for each country. This is also how we put ourselves in the customer's shoes to truly understand them.
The strength of family-owned hotel business is a quick decision-making and easy to adjust compared to a chain management. No matter what circumstance happens whether bird flu, airport shutdown, or a massive flood in 2011, we can adapt our strategy to comfort the customers. It is more flexible but relies on rational and customer happiness. “Treat others like how you want to be treated. This is how we serve our customers.” Even the food tastes, we have to learn what is the best taste for each country. This is also how we put ourselves in the customer's shoes to truly understand them.
For wedding arrangements, the most important thing is to ensure an indulgent wedding for each couple. Also, the seminar or conference that suited every customer's aspects. For example, the financial seminar needs a big and clear screen, the technology and communication seminar in which the Wi-Fi network must be strong enough. If the seminar needs an overnight stay, room arrangement must be a twin room and private bathroom for personal privacy. This is one of the small things that impress customers and make them consider returning or not.
Runner Vs Manager
K.Nueng is really one of the exercise men, especially running. This helps him recovering from his sickness and also running gives him some time to stay with himself, to think and review what he has done, be disciplined, and to learn how to deal with any crisis. For example, he had a goal to run a marathon, so he practiced for 4 - 6 months to reach that target, 5-days a week, and 20 kilometers. If it was raining or any injury happens, he will find a solution. This is the same way as running a business that needs to have a monthly plan. If any crisis happens, a backup plan and solution are needed in order to survive.
K.Nueng set his challenge running goal as he must finish the 6 world biggest running marathons. Currently he has finished 5 of them, there is only one left which is Boston’s which is the hardest and the largest event. However, K.Nueng already passed the selection. Currently, he is waiting for the arrangement after Covid-19 and then he will finish his goal. “The second I reached the goal, everything was completed. It is the same feeling as the first day of the hotel opening. We are so ready to meet and serve the first guest group. To give them a gift, a souvenir. It is a fun and happy moment.” He told us with a smile on his face when he talked about the marathon and hotel management.
Business management during Covid-19 pandemic
Covid-19 pandemic is not what we expected. This is the worst crisis as K.Nueng started this hotel business because no one knows when and how it ends. However, he needs to plan and think ahead of whether food delivery and selling cookies and food boxes. Also, building trust in his employees is a must. It is not only 600 employees but also their families. Not only taking care of their living but also their safety which he bought everyone the Covid-19 insurance.
As there are no customers and the employees have more free time, K.Nueng supports them to learn and improve their skills whether from online platforms and learning Chinese from the Chinese tour guide. This support tour guides income along with improving his employees’ skills. Even the housemaids, they need to learn Chinese, some essential words, and simple conversation.
K.Nueng challenged his employees to make a new normal video clip in order to show their talents by making a home video and creating their own character such as who will be the customers or the cameraman, to show what they should do in the real customer service situation. Not only helping them to prevent forgetting the COVID-10 handle procedure but also their clips will be implemented by sending to agencies to communicate with customers. These are new experiments for employees to know what the right things to do are apart from their jobs and also improve their skills and experiences.
Preparing for the restart after Covid-19 pandemic
After Thailand’s Covid-19 situation is getting better, K.Nueng has started opening some sections such as seminars and conference meetings, wedding venues, and celebration parties with additional Covid-19 preventive detail. For example, sterilization before the big day to ensure the guest's hygiene, changing from 10 persons per table to 5 persons for a Chinese banquet and no shared-dishes, also restricted people to be only 1 per square meter.
Furthermore, the accommodation where he intended to open all branches, but he changed his mind to open only some places that were ready and be the learning prototype for the next upcoming hotel opening. Lessons learned from the first place to build trust to the customers for the other branches such as adding procedure from the television controller that has been daily cleaned to be wrapped with a plastic seal.
Anyone who is interested in using S Group Hotel services, you can go and see deals at www.scbshopdeal.com. Also, any business partners, catering, and spa can join the SCB Shop Deal promotion platform without any registration fee and can directly receive the cash from customers.
Anyone who is interested in using S Group Hotel services, you can go and see deals at www.scbshopdeal.com Also, any business partners, catering, and spa can join the SCB Shop Deal promotion platform without any registration fee and can directly receive the cash from customers.
Reference: SCB TV ซีรีส์ "The Next Destination" ตอน "ความท้าทายใหม่บนถนนสุขุมวิท" โดย คุณสรัญ ลิ้มสวัสดิ์วงศ์ Managing Director of S Group Hotel broadcasted on July 2, 2020