At the forefront of Hilton Manila’s thrust to become the hotel of choice in the Resorts World Manila’s integrated resort in Pasay City is the executive committee that form the cornerstone of the hotel.
Four industry veterans: Raul Aquino as Director of Operations; Joanne Golong-Gomez as Director of Business Development; Nenabette “Nina” Quinto as Director of Human Resources; and Freddieliz “Apple” Esguerra as Director of Finance form the team headed by its General Manager, Simon McGrath.
Hospitality News Philippines NP asked the executives for some insights on how Hilton Manila’s ideals and values affect the workplace. We also asked for their wish list for the industry. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Nenabette “Nina” K. Quinto, Director of Human Resources, has 21 years experience in the hospitality industry; a seasoned executive in the field of human resources. Nina’s role is to strategically and tactically lead in the area of talent acquisition for the newly-opened Hilton Manila and to ensure that the Brand Promise of delivering exceptional guest service is delivered.
Nina believes that in order for employees to thrive, companies must have advocacies and purposeful programs. Hilton has taken heed of this and has introduced a program called “Travel with Purpose”, which has 3 pillars— environment, youth, and community. With a strong advocacy on environmental protection, the hotel has adopted sustainable practices. Hilton is also focused on the youth, aiming to provide job opportunities through a program, which targets to hire a total of 1 million youth by 2019 worldwide. Hilton is likewise steadfast in helping communities. In Manila, Hilton Manila has chosen local beneficiaries such as the Pasay Social Development, and is also looking at partnering with Don Bosco Makati that may focus on a soap recycling program.”
Hilton’s goal is to provide exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest , every time. To ensure this, Nina shares that employee training plays an important role wherein the company has to remain sensitive to understanding the demands of the industry.“ We value feedback from our guests, so we have to understand these parameters to be carried in the workplace. Right now, we are pegged at the ratio of 1:1 as we are just starting with the team. Based on my experience, this is my third pre-opening, we have to be ready to serve guests as we do not want to sacrifice our guest engagement. We measure that with a system called SALT (Satisfaction and Loyalty Tracking), which is global. We want to ensure that we have the right balance in achieving the goal that guests are satisfied with their stay.”
Nina’s wish is for the company and industry to continue to grow. “Over the next year alone, there will be more than 300 Hilton properties that will open within Asia. One will open in Clark, hopefully by next year, providing more employment opportunities for Filipinos who are naturally hospitable and warm.
Joanne Golong-Gomez, Director of Business Development is at the helm of bringing in revenue and further growing the business. She has 23 years of experience in Sales and Marketing and Operations tucked under her belt. Joanne leads the Commercial Team encompassing Sales and Marketing to spearhead strategic conceptualization and implementation of business plans to establish a roster of top corporate clients and maximize room and banquet sales.
Besides the standard market mix of leisure and corporate clients, Joanne is looking at focusing on the business sector with Corporate Meetings and Incentives as one of the priority market segments of Hilton. We can cater to groups of 20 to 75 pax for our meeting rooms, and 180 to 450 for our Ballroom, which can be divided into two, making it an ideal venue for meetings and corporate functions.
What sets Hilton apart is our “Meet with Purpose” program, 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 proponents: Mindful Meeting where we offer environment friendly practices such the use of natural daylight and recycled paper, etc; Mindful Eating wherein we offer healthy menu choices. We also do not serve plastic bottled water, but fruit and herb-infused water in a carafe; and Mindful Being, which incorporates an activity to promote overall well-being such as yoga, stretching, etc. – veering away from the usual tea/coffee break.”
Joanne’s wish — “I want Hilton Manila to be successful. As I am in-charge of revenue, I am very dependent on how the country is perceived. I am optimistic that the country’s economy will remain stable. Foreign investment to the country should continue to rise. And it will only be feasible through good governance. When there are investments, they provide local employment wherein many Filipinos would no longer need to work abroad. And for hoteliers like us, the multiple hotel openings of internationally-branded hotels are actually good as we can grow our careers here in the Philippines.”
Raul Aquino as Director of Operations brings with him 30 years of experience both in local and international markets. Under him are the Front Office, Housekeeping, Engineering, Security, F&B Service and Kitchen. His vast experience working with well-known hotel brands is seen as an edge to position Hilton Manila to be a market leader.
Raul defines the Hilton set of values that Hilton employees worldwide adhere to. “We have our values, Hilton means Hospitality, Integrity, Leadership, Teamwork, Ownership, Now.” Working in the hospitality industry entails commitment and passion, and it’s important to serve with a HEART – one of Hilton’s commitments to provide guests with exceptional service.
When asked how his day begins and ends, Raul says, “My work begins the moment a guest sets foot in our hotel. My job encompasses all aspects of the business, the operational side. There is actually no end to it; it’s a job that would entail total commitment.
Raul’s wish — “That the perception of the foreign guests will change in terms of the safety and security in the Philippines. That is the first question they usually ask about”
Freddieliz “Apple” T. Esguerra, is the Director of Finance in Hilton Manila. As the youngest of the team, Apple is backed up with 9 years of financial work experience starting with SGV. Apple oversees all financial strategy and planning. She ensures that the set-up of all the systems in accordance with Hilton and local regulatory guidelines.
Hospitality News Philippines asked about remuneration as a measure of success and she says,” When we work with Hilton, it is the THRIVE mindset, it is not just the success, we want team members to thrive not just at work but also in their personal lives. Finance in the hospitality is dynamic. The way we see things in every endeavor we put ourselves into, we would always look into the ROI, and when we consider the ROI, we put into consideration all our stakeholders — the owners, employees, and partners; so, we do have the purpose all these things. We have guidelines on how we should process things. Hilton is a global company with standards but when we say standards, it doesn’t just mean financial. We cannot compromise quality of the product just so we can get a higher return. For our Key Business Objectives (KBO), we need to be on the same page, same mindset, same goals.”
Apple’s wish — “I wish for more branded hotels in the Philippines as it will increase the marketability of the country; afterall, we have 7,107 islands.