Name: Benchaphan Phala
Position title: Front Office Manager
Company name: Mövenpick Siam Hotel Na Jomtien Pattaya
Member Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts ExComY
When and why did you join the industry?
I entered the hotel industry in 2005 as part of a banqueting team. I had friends who studied at a hotel school in Bangkok; they used to earn money working as casual staff at a wedding venue, so I decided to join them. This was a fun time, being around my friends, serving food and cocktails, and watching people have a great time.
What do you like most about your job?
I love to connect with people and fortunately my job is all about interacting with team members and guests face-to-face. I also love the challenge of solving problems, managing the needs of guests, ensuring they are happy at all times and exceeding their expectations. Hospitality is not a science, it is an art that requires emotional intelligence as well as strategic thinking.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
To become a member of the ExCom-Y for Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts. Our group of “Gen Y” employees and entrepreneurs has been selected to collaborate with the group’s top executive team, driving our efforts to target the millennial market.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
When I was young I was shining my shoes in front of my house, but I was not paying attention to it. My Dad stepped in and showed me how to do it. When he finished the cleaning the other side of my shoe he said: “I spent exactly two minutes – the same time as you took – and look how shiny it is.” He pointed to the side I shined and said: “If you are going to do something, do your best.”
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Isadore Sharp of Four Seasons. There are a lot of simple initiatives he introduced that changed the entire industry. He also brought the concept of luxury to hotels.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
We are a very strong Swiss company that is highly recognized worldwide. We are not trying to be too trendy; we simply want to reflect our core heritage and develop in line with the needs and trends of future generations.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
There are so many of them. Trekking in Borneo looks very cool. I’d also like to experience the fiestas (and siestas!) in Spain. Japan, Morocco and South Africa also look interesting to me.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
I had an amazing and memorable experience in Egypt, doing a Nile cruise along the river. There was so much ancient architecture, including temples and pyramids, and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to witness this amazing part of the world.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
My Secrid wallet (a gift from our boss); my Blistex lip balm, which helps dehydration during long flights; and my Nike running shoes – just in case I feel guilty after a big dinner!
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
I would like to travel to Japan with the actor Will Smith. I feel like it’s an amazing cultural place and Will Smith has a great sense of humor. We could go to Yokohama Zoo, learn about the culture of Japanese people, experience the local food and have all kinds of fun experiences.
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
Many new sub-brands, lifestyle hotel brands will be established, and I think some initiatives will be launched to accommodate more middle-aged and elderly travellers. Technology will become even more important in the coming years, adapting to fit a variety of different needs. But I also think that we’ll eventually reach a “tech peak”, and one day we’ll start to rediscover a desire for that basic human touch and authentic experiences.