By WATCHIRANONT THONGTEP
William Costley, vice president for Southeast Asia operations at the US-based company, told The Nation recently that Thailand had many things to offer both for international visitors and investors.
In addition, recent growth in tourist arrivals appeared to be an impressive statement for Thai hospitality, he said.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the country welcomed more than 29 million international tourists last year, a sharp increase from 25 million in 2014.
Hilton Worldwide believes the number of international visitors will rise again this year, to more than 30 million.
Hilton Worldwide is currently looking for the right partners and locations to introduce its Hilton Garden Inn properties to Thailand in the near future.
Categorised as a focused-service hotel brand Hilton Worldwide hopes to introduce the first Hilton Garden Inn in Bangkok in the coming years.
"We hope to have Hilton Garden Inns in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. The properties will be operated under management agreements with the property owners.” he said.
The Hilton Garden Inn brand has nearly 600 properties around the world.
Apart from this new development, Hilton Worldwide is planning to open a new luxury hotel under the Waldorf Astoria brand, which will be the first of its kind in Bangkok.
Located on Ratchadamri Road in the heart of the business district, the 170-key upscale hotel is scheduled to open early next year under a management contract with Magnolia Finest Corp, he said.
Moreover, to strengthen its position in the resort destination of Phuket, the company is adding a new five-star hotel brand to Patong beach.
The 300-room Hilton Phuket Patong, which is set to open in the first quarter of 2018, will be operated under a management contract with Q Hospitality Development.
Training to the fore
In preparation for this expansion, Hilton Worldwide hotels in Thailand are placing emphasis on a number of training programmes.
Costley suggested that with two upcoming hotels in Bangkok and Phuket, his company needed at least 1,000 new employees to be available for the new properties.
The company is currently hiring around 3,300 employees in Thailand.
The executive said Hilton Worldwide conducted a variety of training for employees in the Kingdom, including the “Southeast Asia Management Trainee” programme, which saw six or seven young Thais from its latest cohort of graduates successfully placed in supervisory roles in Hilton hotels.
“Besides providing function-specific skills training programmes, we set our employees in supervisory/leadership positions up for success in their roles by offering them training to hone their leadership and management skills. This training includes management development programmes, team-member retention modules, F&B [food and beverage] revenue-maximising courses, and service-recovery training,” he explained.
The company is also committed to supporting the overall industry’s talent development.
Under a strategic alliance with Kasetsart University, Hilton Worldwide offers the best-in-class talent through the university’s rigorous on-the-job practical training and a theoretical curriculum designed to equip them for successful careers in hospitality, Costley said.
Training is in the form of guest lectures and on-site visits, as well as a three-month internship with hotels in the country.