Name: Voytek M. Klasicki
Position title: Area General Manager Centara Hotels & Resorts Maldives
Company name: Centara Hotels & Resorts
When and why did you join the industry?
I studied economics in Poland and then went to UK to work. Initially I wanted to progress my studies but I could not. So I started in the restaurant business and from that point I continued in the hospitality industry. Then I moved to Australia where I took management courses from the American Hotel & Motel Association, Cornell University and obtained accreditation from both.
What do you like most about your job?
My staff. Being here in the Maldives, we need to create a family atmosphere, because we work together, we eat together, we have social events together. If we don’t bond as a team, we will not be effective. My role here is to give the staff the best salaries, the best accommodation, good food, and provide them with a good environment to work. In return we ask them to work with us to make guests happy. I enjoy this a lot. Without the guests we cannot exist. Without the guests we cannot provide employment. Without my team we cannot grow. We need to continue to train the staff and to further develop our teams in order to move our general staff into future management positions and to see further growth in the Maldives.
As a leader I rely on teamwork and my staff, often I say “we” and not “I”. I love to develop my team. The chances are there and the door is open as my office door is always open. The sky has no limit – so go and reach the top!
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
I would say the biggest achievement that I have contributed to is the development and opening of Centara Ras Fushi. Second would be the development of local youth. Together with the Ministry of Tourism and government of the Maldives, we are undertaking their training here at Centara Grand. The next one is the management development program that is a Centara created program which we have introduced here in the Maldives under my supervision; a project from Centara head office. So what we are doing is we are selecting the best employees who will then go through an interview in our Bangkok offices. That person will go to Bangkok for about 6 months to study at Dhurakij Pundit University and then will work in another Centara property in Thailand for about two months. After studying and getting more experience in Thailand, they will then go to Switzerland to gain additional practical experience. Once they finish their studies, they receive accreditation. We call this the Management Development Program. So far I am proud because two Maldivians have
completed this program and they are now working with us; one is working at Ras Fushi and the other is working at Centara Grand. So this is a huge achievement in a short time. The two employees were selected from among all staff working with us including expatriates. I think this will give huge possibilities for us to expand in the Maldives and a large number of locals can look forward to this knowing that they can get good education and training, and also knowing that they can be employed in management positions. We are not only employing Maldivians to be a waiter, a room boy or barman, or to work in other departments, we are also educating them and developing the future managers for Centara Resorts & Hotels.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
Ms. Narelle Dickson, HR Director Sheraton Brisbane Hotel & Towels, Australia.
We worked together during pre-opening stages of Sheraton in Brisbane and then I was transferred to Sheraton Auckland Hotel & Towers in New Zealand.
- At that time Narelle told me to treat the staff with dignity, respect and honesty and in return staff will treat you in the same way.
- Look after development and progression of your team as one day they will work for you without limitations and opened heart.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
- Mr. Gerd Steeb (Director and Advisor to the Board CHR)
- Mr. David Good (Vice President Operations CHR)
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
The secret is Thai hospitality, personal touch, attention to detail, and recognition of our guests. We are not only serving guests; we are going beyond that. At Centara we have a huge number of repeat guests who are loyal to Centara because they like the way we treat them, they like the way we recognize them. And our services are a little bit different to what is offered at other properties.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
There is still so much of the world I want to see but top on my bucket list has always been Canada.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
Travelling with my children and wife to Herron Island in Australia. This was over 10 years now and still a wonderful memory I think about often.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
Computer, headphones and music.
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
I would love to travel with Jose Mourinho to Canada.
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
I believe the future will be more technology-minded, obsessed with social media and focused on service. The biggest competition among hotels, say industry leaders, has become price thanks to online travel agencies like Orbitz and Expedia that make it easy to shop for the cheapest rates in any given destination. Emerging platforms such as AirBnB and Uber are gradually becoming mainstream and challenging established players.
Where Millennials are concerned, consumer engagement is not something that begins at the hotel’s front door; it begins with online search and must be ongoing and evolving. Therefore I believe in the next five to ten years it will a lot about technology and driven by social media.