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Interview with Frank Reichenbach – Finalist for General Manager of the Year

The BMW Hotelier Awards had the pleasure of interviewing Frank Reichenbach, General Manager of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. It was remarkable to see the diversity of knowledge he has gained from different sectors of the hospitality industry. From various roles within the Swiss Education Group to providing luxury service at the Sonnenhof Clinic in Switzerland, Mr. Reichenbach stays in tune with the industry and never fails to share his insights with the next generation of hoteliers. Nurturing this younger generation is certainly something we strongly believe in at The Hotelier Awards and we admire the work that Mr. Reichenbach does.

 

Can you give us a brief insight into your education and career path?

When I completed high school and a year of business school, I started my apprenticeship as a chef at the age of 16 in my birthplace, Gstaad, a cradle of luxury tourism in Switzerland. A grand memory from my apprenticeship was achieving top marks and receiving an engraved knife from the Hotelier Association from the Canton of Bern for the best exam. As a 16-year-old, I learnt discipline, respect and a deep sense of pride and dedication as a hotelier in one of Gstaad’s famous resorts. Further to this, my Mother’s gastronomic hometown of Lyon and her excellent home cooking definitely provided great inspiration for my career path.

Upon completion of my apprenticeship, I went on to obtain my diploma and bachelor degree at the world renowned École Hôtelière de Lausanne. I went through the customary career path from being a Restaurant Manager, Director of F&B, Resident Manager and General Manager before becoming a Regional Manager for international hotel companies across six different countries in Asia.

Following my ten years in the hotel industry, I was offered a School Director position at the Cesar Ritz Hotel Colleges in Switzerland, which went on for four years. This gave me first-hand experience with the academic side of hospitality, as well as allowing me to be proactive with the younger generation and encourage them to join the industry. I enjoyed teaching and sharing my expertise and knowledge on career planning and development with my students. Given my business background, I taught the national course and a state program for small businesses and restaurant owners on entrepreneurship. Aside from teaching on campus, I also had numerous opportunities to be a guest speaker for hospitality management students, covering the topics of industry development and opportunities. Up until this day, I still enjoy speaking to students, as I am part of the expert panel for SEG (Swiss Education Group), the largest hotel management school provider in Switzerland.

After another ten years as a General and Regional Manager in Asia, I returned to Switzerland and worked as a COO within the hospitality division for the luxury Sonnenhof Clinics. My duty was to provide 5-star luxury hotel services from check-in to check-out. My role for the clinics gave me a great overview of what customers expect from the service industry, particularly in hotels and resorts. After four years of gaining luxury clinic experience, I returned as General Manager and Regional Manager in the hotel industry for the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

 

Can you share with us what you feel has been the most valuable part in your career development to date that has enabled you to get to where you are today?

Being able to participate in the pre-opening and opening for ten different international hotel chains has given me a solid base on how hotels and teams are set up and launched. During my time in the pre-opening team, there was always the challenge of training staff and implementing systems and procedures, whilst establishing the hotel in the marketplace. It is crucial the team ensures that the first impression will be the best. My most valuable experience was in my formative years at the uppermost luxurious hotels such as The Peninsula Group and The Regent Group, where I had some incredible mentors whom I still keep in touch with till this day. The luxury service truly formed and strengthened my attention to detail and provided top-notch customer delivery, which has served me well over the years. I believe the philosophy of going the extra mile and giving a “wow” effect to make special moments more memorable for guests can only be completely understood with the background that I have become acquainted with in the upper sector of the hotel industry.

 

Congratulations on being a finalist in The BMW Hotelier Awards 2016. How are you planning on leveraging this opportunity to inspire the younger generation to work harder at developing their career in the hospitality scene?

As a result of my background as a School Director and being a part of the Swiss Education Group panel, I frequently attend international academic and recruitment forums, which keep me in tune with the requirements and aspirations of the younger generation. The key is to advise them to learn multiple skills when they enter the industry. I’d like to recommend to young hoteliers that they need to find excitement and passion for their job. Be yourself and go the extra mile. Lead by example and use your common sense to ensure customer focus. I believe young hoteliers will find that leadership skills, communication skills and having a sound understanding of both the technical and practical side of the business are key for development. Furthermore, they must understand that excellent customer service is the basis of our industry. Having great mentors and formulating goals for their own future are just a few of the things they need to obtain if they wish to have a successful career in the hospitality industry.

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