In Service of Dignitaries and Royalties
Updated: 2012-06-28 09:13
By Bi Nan (chinadaily.com.cn)
British Queen Elizabeth and Gino Tan [Photo provied to chinadaily.com.cn]
British Queen Elizabeth in a Singapore hotel [Photo provied to chinadaily.com.cn]
Great Britain celebrated Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee a few weeks ago.
Gino Tan, general manager of Grand Millennium Beijing, remembers fondly the time he had received Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh in a renowned luxury hotel in Singapore as the Resident Manager there.
His career in hospitality spans over 20 years, which saw him overseeing many prestigious events and coordinating many VIP visits. However, uppermost in Gino's most memorable moments remains the state visit of Her Majesty to Singapore.
"It was an honor and a privilege to have served Her Majesty and her delegation during her 3-day state visit then. It remains today, the most unforgettable 3 days for all of us," he says.
"We had to ensure Her Majesty had a very pleasant and enjoyable stay and yet, in a very subtle way, ensure the tightest security - without being too visible," Gino explained.
There were many other factors to be considered in the preparation. For example, Gino revealed that the timing for raising Her Majesty's Flag at the roof of the hotel had to be very precise and coordinated in tandem with Her Majesty's motorcade arriving at the hotel.
Moreover, all hotel associates were given special etiquette training in the weeks prior to her arrival, such as the protocol of bowing, handshakes and curtseying. Attention to details like room temperature and noise level could not be overlooked. Advance preparations for months, veiled in secrecy, were essential due to the high profile of the visit.
Added to the excitement of the visit was the Conferring of Knighthood to the British High Commissioner to Singapore in the hotel on the last day of Her Majesty's visit.
"We were delighted and honored to have received a letter of compliments from Buckingham Palace a few weeks after the visit, which truly made our day," Gino added.
Though Gino Tan majored in economics, he didn't choose an economy-related job like his peers. Still he obtains great satisfaction from the intangible rewards of working in a holistic, yet competitive, hotel industry.
"It's a gratifying feeling to have provided not just a great service but also an experience for our guest and residents. I do it for those special moments and occasions in our hotel, and to know we have played a small part in making that happen for them. That feeling is the reason I have chosen this job," says Gino.
It's the same reason VIPs return to the hotels he manages wherever they are in the world. Gino believes that a sincere attitude and thoughtful, perceptive service is crucial.
This attitude is reflected in his service to the International Olympic Committee(IOC), whose executive committee members, including the late IOC Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch and current IOC President Jacques Rogge, had resided in the historic luxury hotel in Beijing where Gino was the Resident Manager during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
It was because of his previous two experiences and observation in coordinating with the Protocol Office of IOC (IOC 117th Session in Singapore, IOC 119th Session in Guatemala) that gained him and his colleagues the confidence of the IOC.
Together with his management colleagues, Gino had encouraged his staff to work not only for themselves, but also for Beijing and China, as the hotel had 12 dignitaries and royalties residing for a period of 3 weeks. Their efforts paid off, with the IOC members spending those days pleasurably in the hotel and praising the hotel's top-ranked service.
"It was a very challenging period as these VIPs had made our hotel home not for the usual 2 or 3 day stay, but for more than a fortnight. I am very glad we had exceeded everyone's expectations,"said Gino. "We are humbled to have been given this opportunity to make contributions to the success of the Beijing Olympics in an indirect way."
Working in hospitality means that there are always interesting stories to share - within the boundaries of confidentiality.
Gino recounted an interesting event when Hollywood director and producer George Lucas, the celebrated director and creator of the Star Wars franchise, was expected at the hotel he once managed. An army of fans, who had caught wind of his arrival, dressed in costumes to welcome Lucas to the hotel.
Gino points out that, in the hotel industry, you need to always be patient and passionate about your job. "If you work because you have to, the service level will be mediocre, but if you work because you want to, that is another story. This is where the passion for the job comes in," he added.
With his strong passion for hospitality, Gino is thankful for the opportunities he has had to have received official leaders, such as former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and former British prime minister Gordon Brown, former US president Bill Clinton and former French president Jacques Chirac to name a few.
As a luxury hospitality veteran, Gino has witnessed many entertaining and solemn moments in all these visits. He is grateful that his job has given him many different experiences.
In his current position as general manager of Grand Millennium Beijing, Gino has continued this passion and has been enhancing both the service and image of his hotel to all patrons and guests alike, not only the VIPs. "I guess it has always been in my DNA," he concluded.