Hilton Manila recently opened in late October, one of five luxury hotels in the Resorts World Manila’s integrated resort in Pasay City.
At 357 rooms, 5 dining outlets, and 6 meeting rooms and event facilities including a Ballroom, Hilton Manila is one of the hotels vying for the growing market of corporate and leisure travelers who are discerning, time-conscious, and tech-savvy.
According to Hilton Manila’s General Manager Simon McGrath, the Hilton experience starts with the brand itself.
“The power of the brand speaks for itself — over 5,500 hotels across 15 brands in more than 100 countries. Hilton is the core brand that was founded 99 years ago and it’s a renowned brand worldwide. As we celebrate a milestone next year when we turn 100 years old, we continue to be at the forefront of hospitality. We have to continually evolve by being creative, as well as dictate how we will differentiate ourselves from the hotels here,” McGrath imparted.
The arrival experience
The sense of arrival in any great hotel is probably the first meaningful introduction to a property and McGrath explains that, as much as the hotel’s reception is on Level 3 and guests arrive at the driveway, guest engagement is the same, “You are warmly greeted, taken to the reception desk, and made to feel at home. I think that rates absolutely number one with regards to priorities.”
Hotel reception can be challenging, especially when arriving and departing guests all converge in the lobby and thus, require a highly experienced professional to handle them. McGrath intimated that every Hilton hotel has a Journey Ambassador or Lobby Ambassador, a member of the senior management who, during peak hours, will be present.
“Most of the time, I myself will be at the upper lobby to make sure that I play a part in greeting people to ensure that everybody gets assisted with check-in, their bags and address other concerns,” he said
In these modern times, technology provides the cutting edge in the stay of a guest, whether leisure or corporate and some tech-forward hotel chains have invested highly on embracing new developments. McGrath is quick to mention that Hilton will be the first five-star upper upscale hotel to introduce Digital Key / keyless entry via a mobile app in Manila and fourth in the region.
Digital Key / Keyless entry technology, which is exclusive to Hilton Honors members, is a hotel feature that enables the guest to check-in and enter his room using his gadget, eliminating the use of plastic key cards, among other things. “When you enter your room, there’s a sensor that turns on and when you leave, everything turns off except the power where you are charging your laptop or cell phone.”
In the quest for seamless booking, Hilton’s use of technology will play a big part not just in the booking process but most aspects of the guest’s journey including connectivity.
“Connectivity these days is a given,” says McGrath, and we offer 300 mbps, the connection of fast Internet, seamless technology, we’ve got IP TV streaming. We have invested heavily on technology and we want to make sure that people benefit from that. Technology and functionality in the room are extremely important,” he added.
“The other area that we need to differentiate ourselves is that we have to be solid with our food and beverage concepts, offering innovative outlets. I am confident that, under Executive Chef Dennis Leslie who is Australian with Filipino roots (he was born in the Philippines but left with he was a toddler), will really put out a consistently excellent food products that showcase fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Being familiar with Filipino cuisine all his life, his “homecoming” almost a year ago has enabled him to even gain an even deeper understanding of it. Chef Dennis has really embraced his roots, with his family and kin taking him to different places. He will be very much the face of the food offerings of the hotel.”
Now, every hotel guest will be able to sample the fine culinary offerings that Hilton Manila offers as it banners 5 unique F&B outlets. Madison Lounge + Bar captures a New York vibe, serving grab & go choices and artisanal coffee selections in the morning and transitions to a lounge in the evening; Hua Ting Brasserie Chinoise at the second floor offers authentic Shanghainese cuisine that makes use of traditional dishes with a modern twist; and Kusina at the third level is the all-day interactive buffet outlet showcasing Filipino cuisine with international options, making use of fresh and sustainable local ingredients. Also on the third floor is Port Bar, a multi-functional venue that serves as a meeting lounge or breakout room (seminars / conferences) during daytime and cozy bar in the evening while Freestyle Pool Bar features a sunken swim-up bar.
Policy, cultural flexibility, and Filipino service
“There’s got to be a certain amount of flexibility and a lot of that is very much around the cultural aspect of every country. When I moved around in Thailand then Malaysia and later to the Philippines, I’ve learned to be more flexible, being fully aware and respectful of cultural and local nuances.
When it comes to policies, we would be stricter in some areas than in other countries, like security because of perceptions; but, we try to ensure that these don’t govern everything that our team members do. There’s a saying that if you teach everybody like how you teach a parrot to speak, it becomes routine so there’s no real human engagement. We want it be like the genuine Filipino warmth like greeting you when you come into their house. That sums up hospitality.”
In the event of a medical emergency McGrath told HNP that hotel is prepared and equipped. “Emergency response links to security so it is very important. Medical Emergency Services differ from every hotel but we have one on-site 24/7. Duty Managers and senior managers are also first aiders and we have defibrillators (AED, a portable device used to help a person in the event of a cardiac emergency while awaiting further medical attention) in security, front office, and the poolside. It is a brand standard in Hilton that each and every hotel has at least one defibrillator.”
Hilton Honors Loyalty Program
Hotel Loyalty Programs have evolved from just free rooms and upgrades; surveys are showing that customers are looking for other choices, which are more experiential and this is because hotels have invested in better consumer understanding to make offers more interesting.
“The other thing that we have on our side is definitely our Hilton Honors Loyalty Program that will be the draw card. It will be a positive factor in decision making of corporate and leisure guests in making a selection. With the fact that it is the most successful hospitality loyalty program in the world, I think Hilton Honors is something that we are going to drive as hard as possible to attain a fair market share,” McGrath revealed.
A “Make It Right” culture
All Hilton hotels worldwide operate on several tenets in which distinct programs lean to. First and foremost, is Hilton’s “Make it Right” policy that guarantees a reaction to any problem related to a hotel stay that McGrath defines completely:
“Hilton‘s focus worldwide is recognizing that problems do happen in a human service environment and so we have a problem resolution program or a service guarantee under the banner of ‘Make it Right’ and it is something I have been championing for many years – through my past two openings and again, very much here. When there’s an issue, we face it and make a sense of urgency in dealing with that, we do not make excuses. That is one of our key values. It is about really making sure that we recognize the problem quickly, and address any lapses. This ensues to the guest becoming a loyal customer.”
A Hilton stay does not end in just a memorable experience but a satisfied guest would be more than happy to know that the hotel chain does its corporate social responsibility that is consistent to the growing booking decisions worldwide, especially with millennials, who look positively at environmental and social efforts of an entity.
A global commitment – No Plastic
According to McGrath, the banner they operate under sustainability within Hilton is “Travel with Purpose”. It is a strategy to support the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. That is the overarching tagline, and underneath that are multiple programs operating.
Most recently, Hilton launched Sustainable Meetings called “Meet with Purpose”, providing meeting professionals with sustainable choices to incorporate into events that not only enhance the experiences of attendees, but also align with their corporate responsibility goals. This has three pillars: Mindful Meeting, Mindful Eating and Mindful Being. Mindful Meeting inspires meeting professionals to host more sustainable events by considering practices that are less resource-intensive, such as using natural daylight in the function rooms and going paperless or making use of recycled materials, etc. There is also Mindful Eating when the chef provides the best local produce and also makes sure that there are healthy food offerings. And there’s Mindful Being, which incorporates an activity to promotes overall well-being such as yoga, stretching, etc.”
“As part of our environmental advocacy, we limit the use of plastic by offering water in glass bottles, and there are also no plastic wrappings on the slippers, laundry, among others and we have limited the use of paper. This is a strong statement not just from Hilton but specifically here in Hilton Manila, this is something you can do and we can be proud of, “McGrath enthuses.
“We encourage people to put their goods in our reusable crates so we take them into our cool rooms, we clean and sterilize the crates and put them back. Our supplier agreements even go to the point of saying we do not want plastic, we do not want non-recyclable products in the delivery and packaging,” he added.
In May 2018, Hilton announced it will eliminate plastic straws across its managed hotels in Asia-Pacific by end of 2018 and transition away from plastic bottles from its rooms, conference, and event spaces. This follows the company’s global commitment to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030.