GTN : Do you mind sharing your career path that leads you to where you are now?
SIMON YONG : I remember vividly when I first started in the hotel industry in 1987 – I just finished school and got a job at an International 5-star hotel in Kota Kinabalu. I had no experience in the hotel industry and was working there to gain experience but somehow along the way, I fell in love with the hotel industry and I took the challenge together with the opportunities offered to me along the way. It is my passion that drives me to continue in this line and I found that there were a lot of opportunities for me to go far and develop a lot of skills within this industry. I spent a good nine years in the first hotel and acquired as much experience and knowledge as I could working from a line staff to becoming the head of the department. After leaving the first hotel, I went on to work at a resort in Karambunai and another 5-star property in Brunei, both as part of the pre-opening team. After 15 years in the industry, I was given the responsibility as Resident Manager at a resort in Langkawi. Until today, I have been involved in managing four hotels, upon which Palm Garden Hotel IOI Resort City is the fourth.
GTN : Having been involved in the hospitality industry for some time, what keeps you going in this line of work?
SIMON YONG: Having worked in this industry for 25 years, I am still passionate of the industry – in fact I am geared up for more of what this line has to offer. There are so many things for me to explore and discover. After all, we can never stop learning in life, can we? I love the challenges that I have to face every time I walk into the hotel. It is not just something that you do to earn a living – this is what satisfies me and I am very committed to make myself better in this field.
SIMON YONG: We have gone through a lot so far and we are now in the new phase where everything is reachable. We use all means possible for us to reach out to local and international clients and one of the most effective ways is through e-marketing, which we are very active. We make Palm Garden Hotel visible to the world through our own website as well as other reputable online agents and websites. Other than that, we really have to appreciate the support given by the government, corporate and guests themselves because they do spread the good word about the hotel to their friends and family, thus widening our reach.
GTN : The landscape of tourism industry is constantly changing. How does Palm Garden Hotel adapt to such change?
SIMON YONG : When it comes to the hotel industry, for a hotel to survive the changes is by remaining focussed in providing the best service to our guests and being genuine to our supporters. The main thing about the hotel industry is about the service provided and the facilities that the hotel offers. However, no matter how good the facilities are, when the service is not up to guests’ expectations, the facilities will drive the hotel nowhere. We always encourage our associates to stay focussed on providing the best to our guests so that, when they leave the hotel, they will remember their overall experience. We encourage our associates to work with us in providing experience to the guests so that they will feel welcomed whenever they are here.
Whenever we receive new guests, we will keep on extending our good service and establishing a relationship with them. We find this is the best strategy to build a strong reputation and it is proven as our hotel remains competitive even with the opening of new hotels in this area. Apart from this, Palm Garden Hotel is one of the closest hotels to Putrajaya and we are only among the few hotels also in Klang Valley that have a golf course in our grounds.
GTN : From the tourism perspective, how far have we progressed when it comes to providing quality service to tourists?Why do you think guests repeatedly stay at your hotel?
SIMON YONG: Over the years, I noticed that the service quality at the hotels in our country is generally getting better. At Palm Garden Hotel, we believe in the power of personalised service that will surely attract the guests to come for the comfort and conveniences that we provide. Our regular guests are normally business travellers and Palm Garden Hotel is a hotel with a resort concept. The combination of personalised service and resort concept keep our guests coming back because they are comfortable, especially for business travellers who look for comfort and convenience. We are very proud to say that we have been getting positive feedbacks from repeat and new guests who stayed with us.
GTN : Last but not least, what are your hopes and future plans for Palm Garden Hotel?
SIMON YONG : I would want Palm Garden Hotel to move forward and become one of the preferred venue and destination among travellers around this area. As part of IOI Resort City, I believe that Palm Garden Hotel is an uncovered gem that has yet to reach its full potential. From time to time, we are upgrading our facilities. Through these improvements, we at Palm Garden Hotel hope that our guests appreciate the fresh feel and variations.