Meet The Face Behind 5 Of The Country’s Top Hotel Brands
Vincent Ong is the Asia Pacific Senior Director of Brand Management for five differentiated lifestyle hotel brands under Starwood Hotels & Resorts i.e. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element.
In his role, Vincent leads and manages the Brand Marketing function for five brands in Asia-Pacific covering almost 200 hotels across 20 countries. Vincent also works with the Global Brand teams to conceptualize, develop and roll-out guest experience initiatives aimed at bringing the brands to life. Additionally, his role encompasses the management and implementation of Brand Standards which includes branding, operational and service standards development and compliance.
Vincent has been with Starwood Hotels & Resorts since 2003 where he started a career in hospitality as the Director of Six Sigma for the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur. Prior to joining Starwood, he was with Accenture, consulting financial services organization in strategy, business planning and processes. During that time he led major banking mergers and acquisition projects in Malaysia and Singapore. Vincent also previously worked with KPMG Management Consulting.
A native of Malaysia, Vincent holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree with a major in Accounting from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He is a Certified Practicing Accountant with CPA, Australia and holds a certification in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
In a personal interview with Vincent Ong , Coffeeticks was able to get a better understanding of the hotel industry and Project Aloft Amplified by MTV.
1. From my knowledge you are the senior director of brand management for five different lifestyle hotels, wow. How do you manage it?What’s your mgmt style?
My management style revolves around having a good team, hiring the right people, making sure my tram has exactly what they need. My management style starts with why, why do we do what we do everyday? what do we try give back? what type of unique experience do we wish our customers to have? Then we move onto the DNA of the brand, as long as we create happy guests, we are doing it right. I like to make sure the team understands what the guests want.
2. How difficult is it to handle 5 lifestyle hotels; do the different nature of these hotels affect your management style?
It’s not that difficult, at the end of day we take a structural approach for each brand, for example the design of the Aloft brand, is what our target audience want. But the Sheraton Hotel has a different brand. It provides sanity to check our box to insure our marketing is on spot and that each brand has its core values.
We do not build hotels or manage hotels we deliver hospitality experiences, we go away from a product base business into an experience, stepping into Aloft you feel the energy of a different experience attracting the millennials.
3. How did all of this start? / What was the turning point that brought you to where you are today?
I didn’t make a conscious choice to be a marketer or brand manager, with an accounting background, I started of as a consultant. I was working for a hotel and gradually I started to improve the business performance of the hotel. I started of with a good outcome, I got lucky because my current boss because understood that I was versatile in understanding what the consumer wants, which was my introductory into the branding world, it was definitely out of the blue.
4. What would you say you owe your success today to?
I owe my success to the people around me, we are only as good as what we achieve, its not about capability, its about the people with the right passion, right outlook on who they want to be, I am very fortunate that the people around me have those values, it makes things easier; since we believe in the same thing, and how to achieve our goals.
5. What hardships have you faced in your career?
A lot, I faced hardships that had more to do with adapting. Hardships come about when new situations arose, hardships came about when I couldn’t adapt fast enough, change was introduced in my personal and professional life and I still went home feeling sane.
6. What are your most memorable moments in your career?
In Aloft, there are a lot of great memories that have to do with the project last year. Since we are a hotel company, it was out of the ordinary for a hotel to go into a music competition. Music is our passion point, music is an attraction to our target people, it is our responsibility towards our local community; giving a chance to talents.
One memory that comes to mind is last year when I sat in as a judge, the contestants were just very passionate, and the winners, who won 10 000 USD, when asked what they would do with the winnings, they said that this competition had made them believe in themselves and has given them a chance, so they decided to spend the winnings on their first album, they got a music album produced, they performed at the F1 race, they have been on hitz, and they performed at the later Project Aloft Star, that was when my personal believe of helping people came true.
7. What can you tell us about project Aloft star amplified by MTV
The essence of the competition is to give upcoming musicians a chance to make a break. It started in North America 6 years ago where the winner got a recording record. Last year it was the first time, for Aloft Project Star to take place in Asia, it took more years because Aloft Hotels in North America are way more in numbers compared to Asia. While Aloft is celebrating its 100th hotel next year, we have 18 hoteks in Asia. So for Aloft Project Star we partnered with MTV Asia because they have the credibility and system to get the project off the ground. We combined Southeast Asia, China and India where three winners come out of the project. The impact of this project took the winners to Aloft Seoul to open the latest Aloft Hotel there, last year. The Aloft Star Project in China turned out great, all five finalists were signed, while the winners wrote and sang for a TV show in china, and top 40 in US.
8. What can you tell us about project Aloft star amplified by MTV
We at Aloft Star have 3 passion points: music, design and technology. By creating buzz for the next generation of travelers, such involves tech forward, design led and experiences filled outcome, we become very millennial based.
Millennials like mass music: indie genre, at the end of day, we are focused on helping people who have dreams and talent, whatever kind of talent that may be.. For a better community we are in the upscale hotel space (4 star), but the difference between us and other hotels is that we are bringing in a vibrant new exciting experience to shake up the hotel industry in other countries as well.
About Aloft Hotels
With 100 hotels open now and coming soon in 15 countries around the world, Starwood’s (NYSE:HOT) Aloft brand delivers a fresh approach to the traditional staid hotel landscape. For today’s (and tomorrow’s) connected, curious and communal evolving global traveler, the Aloft brand offers a tech-forward, vibrant experience and a modern style that is different by design. For more information, please visit www.alofthotels.com/experience
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