Yeoh Siew Hoon picks up tips from the story of the beauty and the beast.
Watching "King Kong", the latest movie by Peter Jackson, the man behind the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, I was taken aback by the many lessons we can take away from it.
The first is obvious: Do not judge a book by its cover. Under King Kong’s hairy breast beats a heart of gold.
When hiring staff, do not hire based on looks and youth. In Singapore, there are now schemes to get hotels to hire older workers which I think should be embraced by one and all. I am not saying this out of self-interest but rather out of common sense.
Think about it. Older workers are more appreciative and have more grace under fire; they have been through fire. Younger workers walk away at the drop of a hat or a rise of a salary.
I was told by a hotelier friend that a hotel in Germany once hit upon a winning scheme. It hired only older workers to serve breakfast and kept the younger staff for dinner shifts. This was because older folks needed less sleep and were more alert in the mornings.
Lesson number two: Removing good people out of their comfort zone and putting them in alien environments can be bad for business.
King Kong was taken out of his natural habitat and put into the urban jungle. He didn’t like it one bit.
Over the years, I have met many hotelier friends who have been transferred from one place to the other – like pawns on a chessboard. Two years here, two years there – hardly any time for any one to get stuck into a place or the hotel before they are off again.
Of course, we all should step outside our comfort zone once in a while but it helps to stick to your core competence.
I am not sure what King Kong’s competence was but I think it was beating his chest a lot and growling, which is something I have seen some owners do when their hotels are not performing up to expectations.
Lesson number three: Know what kind of hotel you want to run, and stick to it.
In King Kong, Peter Jackson went a bit berserk and threw in bits that looked like “Lord of the Rings” and bits of “Jurassic Park” and one scene even looked like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” except it was more like “Crushing Dinosaurs, Screaming Beauty”.
It’s a bit like those fusion restaurants – neither here nor there.
Lesson number four: The grass is not always greener on the other side or in other words, there’s always a bigger monster round the corner.
The heroine Ann Darrow escaped from King Kong, only to find herself facing bigger and badder monsters at each turn. She should have stuck to the beast who, while loud, was gentle with her.
In our working life, there is a tendency to think the next job will be better or someone else will be easier to work with. This happens particularly during times of stress, which is often in the hotel business.
I have seen hotelier friends jump from the frying pan into the fire. That’s not to say stick to your patch of grass, but realise that every patch of grass has its little monsters. You just have to learn to deal with them, like Ann Darrow did. She screamed a lot and lucky her, she had a beast in hairy armour to rescue her always.
Lesson number five: Keep it short.
Especially meetings. (Peter Jackson took three hours to tell his story. He could have done it in two.)
Final lesson: Beauty killed the beast.
Yes, no matter how big or strong or fearsome you are, we all have our Achilee’s Heel.
The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia’s most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.
Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company’s mission is “Content, Communication, Connection”.
She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published “Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries”. Her motto is ‘free to do, and be’.