- 25th September 2019
- Zunaid Valli, VP of Sales & Operations, Asia
Guestline, the global provider of hotel cloud technology, has ambitious growth plans for the brand’s market leading PMS and the role it can play in assisting APAC hoteliers to better streamline their operations, increase efficiencies and drive revenues.
At the helm of these growth aspirations is Zunaid Valli (Zen), Guestline’s new VP of Sales and Operations, based at the company’s APAC head office in Bangkok. Following an impressive senior level management career, Zen’s vast knowledge and experience of the hospitality sector is rooted from beginnings in F&B, followed by roles in Revenue, Sales Management and Operations for large hotels, branded groups and independents, leading him to join the Guestline family over three years ago. His arrival in Asia coincides with the rapid expansion of the company’s products throughout Asia and into Australia. With plans to build on the brand’s successful partnerships with Adelphi Hospitality Group, Maduzi, B2 Hotels, several Best Western properties and ēRYAbySURIA, Zen’s experience and network of unrivalled contacts will be invaluable in driving operational and revenue improvements for hoteliers.
Here Zen discusses his thoughts on the current APAC market challenges, his aspirations for Guestline APAC and what we can expect from the brand’s new VP of Sales & Operations…
- What are the challenges facing the APAC hospitality industry going forward?
To answer this question would be to look at each country individually. Take Malaysia for example; the supply of hotel rooms currently far surpasses the demand of the market, and what is interesting are the segments holding up i.e. the luxury segment in Kuala Lumpur. Singapore has seen demands in F&B and C&E with increases in both areas.
The Chinese market is also crucial for hoteliers trying to acquire their ‘Best Guests’. Set to be the world’s largest, 58% of inbound tourism into Thailand this year has been from China. Their use of Super Apps and presence on preferred booking platforms are crucial, alongside maximising spends through accepting their preferred method of cashless pay types.
Travel is now driven by experiences. A great example is the large volume of millennials (nearly 72%) who would rather spend their money on experiences over physical items when travelling. This is a great area for hotels to drive revenue - by offering more than just a stay and generating a significant edge over competitors by providing an additional ‘experience’. Travellers don’t just want a hotel; they want an experience they can share with their friends & followers.
- You mentioned China, and the significance of Chinese tourism into SE Asia countries. Is there anything hoteliers can be doing to drive bookings from the Chinese market?
There are multiple varied approaches hoteliers can use when trying to capture a sizeable market share of the inbound Chinese tourism - hoteliers I speak to regularly discuss their connection to CTrip being effective in capturing Chinese guests. CTrip does command the majority market share of bookers in China, but are hotels actively completing follow ups and encouraging Chinese guests to leave reviews on CTrip? This is where the Chinese guests are going to research their trips, and reviews are crucial.
97% of millennials are sharing their experiences of travel on social media- having a presence on WeChat/ WeChat moments- allowing Chinese guests to connect to them by sharing QR codes and sharing their experiences throughout their stays is something that can be looked into. It can also help to generate more direct bookings.
We will be discussing this topic alongside other Hot Topics at our Guestline Asia Connect Events- dates to be announced soon!
- How can Guestline help hoteliers in the APAC Market?
Guestline is not ‘just a PMS vendor’ we are a partner and we become an extension of your team. With that in mind, we share in the success of our clients and offer the best possible solutions for them to excel in every possible area. Our last client retention rate scored at 98%, which is a clear indicator of the client support we offer. We can offer solutions to challenge issues such as rate leakages, direct bookings and owning each individual aspect of your hotel revenue - what I mean by that is not seeing your operations as a ‘head in a bed’, rather a retail outlet where each individual product you offer can be sold to enhance the customer experience, and drive the uniqueness of your brand.
- What are your aspirations for Guestline in Asia?
To educate hoteliers on strategies to maximise all areas of their business through technology, and for Guestline to become the go-to solution for hoteliers throughout the region. We have an impressive portfolio of clients which is rapidly growing, and we have already helped our existing client base to increase their revenue and make clear returns on investment through Guestline solutions. The Asia Pacific region is currently leading the global hotel pipeline, and my aspiration is for Guestline to play a big part in that growth, establishing the brand as the local hero in championing and delivering best guest experiences across the region.
- How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Our client’s success would define my success. To daily be able to help hoteliers deliver and drive their revenue, streamline their operations and increase their ARR is fantastic! When we receive feedback from clients, such as the below words from Mr Niran Chawla, CEO at B2 Hotels, who recently signed a 50 + property deal with Guestline, it makes us strive to create greater awareness of Guestline’s valuable offering:
“Guestline is the right fit for our business needs as we expand our portfolio of properties throughout Asia Pacific. Cloud solutions will enable us to manage our accommodation offering from one system, in real time, from any place and on any device and the integrations offered by Guestline will allow us to operate more efficiently. We recognised Guestline as an industry leader in technology for the hospitality marketplace and are therefore very happy to be working alongside the team.”
The definition of personal success is very simple. I believe in setting realistic goals, not being afraid of failure, and learning from failures through reflection as key in identifying personal growth and personal success.
- What is the best piece of business advice you have ever been given and how does it translate in your new role?
To look after the 3 C’s - the cooks, the cleaners and the car parking attendants. This advice was given to me by a mentor when I was on my first placement at university and is not a literal translation. What is teaches in business is to not forget the individuals who work hard in areas not always visible- the unsung heroes- who have a valuable insight into various areas of business which are often overlooked.
- What’s your motto?
It’s actually a Japanese proverb ‘Vision Without Action Is A Daydream’ - your vision of where you want to be, places you want to explore, what you want to achieve, whether in your personal life or career will never be successful unless you have a plan of action.
- What are you looking forward to most about your new adventure in Asia?
I’m looking forward to meeting hoteliers and educating them on cloud-based technology, and how it can successfully support efficiencies and drive profitability. I’m also a HUGE foodie (hence the need for the gym), so I am excited to explore the food, culture and amazing locations!
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