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Interview with Judge Zita Ong

For the second year running Zita Ong, CEO Edipresse Media Asia, will sit on our prestigious judging panel for both Greater China and ASEAN. The Hotelier Awards sat down with her to get her insights into the 2016 edition!

What do you think of The Hotelier Awards’ expansion into the ASEAN region?

I believe that including the entire region will really add credibility to the awards. Covering a larger area and not just focusing on one country, will bring a more global element. It is important that the hotels in these two regions don’t compete against each other as they are very different, when it comes to the hospitality scene, with Greater China focusing on metropolitan hotels, while the ASEAN region is home to more resorts. It is fantastic to spread these hoteliers’ successes across Asia for all to see and learn from.

In what ways have you seen the hospitality industry change and develop over the past few years and how does this effect what you are now looking for as a judge from our applicants?

With social media becoming more prominent in the reservation and critique process of hotels, a hotelier needs to be even more engaged with their guests to ensure total customer satisfaction. As a Judge, I look for applicants that are relevant and embracing this millennium. Customers range from tech geniuses to the old fashioned traveler and thus innovation and creativity in hospitality has become a necessity of both business and recreational life. It is essential to see how these innovations from the millennium have been incorporated into user friendly interactions, consequently giving the guest outstanding experiences. User reviews also play a crucial role in the development of the hospitality industry, for instance, guest’s online reviews have resulted in China having the largest number of luxury properties appearing in the top 100 ratings, taking it ahead of the American hotels. These advancements will no doubt play an important role when it comes to a hotel’s reputation, therefore giving applicants yet another angle to focus on.

The judging day is just around the corner, what are you most looking forward to?

I am thrilled to see the tremendous increase of new hoteliers this year. A lot can happen within a year in the hospitality world and so I am excited to see how candidates have taken their roles and properties to a leading edge compared to previous years. With a 40% increase in the number of hotel brands joining, due to the ASEAN expansion, I am looking forward to seeing how different cultures can add an additional dimension to the hospitality industry. Selecting the finalists is always a challenge, however, I am very much looking forward to selecting the 2016 winners with my fellow judges.

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