Hilton enjoys double digit growth in Myanmar since entry

HILTON WORLDWIDE has enjoyed double digit growth every year since it entered Myanmar three years ago, and expects stronger growth as it expands further, according to a senior executive.

William Costley, vice president of operations for Southeast Asia and India, said in an exclusive interview the hospitality firm is doing really well in Myanmar in terms of business performance at its two existing properties in the nation.

He said the business would be much stronger after the firm opens its third property in Mandalay, which is scheduled for early November. Sedona Hotel Mandalay will be transformed into the Hilton brand in cooperation with its strategic partner, Eden Group.

“Our business here is very exciting. We think that will continue. As Myanmar tourism grows, we will be part of the journey. So far, our journey in Myanmar has been very positive from the business perspective,” he said.

He considers opening in Mandalay as another success story of the firm, as it can serve a number of loyal customers who visit Myanmar’s second biggest city for leisure and business purposes.

Costley said the renovation process for Hilton Mandalay could take about two years to ensure all the facilities meet international standards set by the group.

Upon completion, the property in Mandalay can accommodate more than 230 rooms and the firm will have more than 500 rooms in Myanmar as a whole. Now, it has 223 rooms in Nay Pyi Taw and 53 in Ngapali.

“Our key focus right now is the hotel in Mandalay. All of our energy right now focuses on getting it ready by the fourth quarter. It is a big investment by Eden Group,” he said.

Costley said the firm’s cooperation with Eden Group was absolutely satisfactory. He said Hilton would expand its presence in Myanmar by establishing two new hotels in Inle Lake and Bagan over the next two years.

“Hilton business model is that we do not invest cash. Basically we manage other people’s assets. So this business model is very, very consistent with other international brands,” he said.

He said there is no plan to build a hotel under the Hilton brand in Yangon at this point. Yet, it is possible if Eden Group wants to develop a property in Yangon or if they find a good partner to do business there, he added.

To him, there are also opportunities to potentially put into Yangon under different brands, as the group has 14 world-class brands depending on diverse markets and different market sizes.

“We need to make sure we have the right location and the right brand with the right facilities for the right market. It is very, very important for long-term success,” he said.

He said the firm prioritised producing local talents to enter its workforce in Myanmar and abroad. In this regard, the Hilton vocational training centre was established in Nay Pyi Taw in September 2015. It has hired all of its 28 graduates as permanent staff and now training 40 new students in the second batch of its two-year diploma programme.

“We have a really good representation of students from all over Myanmar, and also have a good balance of the gender ratio. Eighty per cent of our courses focus on work and the remaining 20 per cent in the classroom. We bring a lot of our expertise here,” he said.

Costley seems proud to be the only hospitality company who has such type of vocational training which guarantees full-time jobs after the graduation. He said the firm does not has any restriction on its students to work for other organisations, as they are confident of the students’ eagerness to join the firm.

Source: The Nation