ジェニー・イップ | Jenny Ip
Experiences in hotel business as a Guest Experience team leader and Revenue Analyst
Could you share your career history?
I studied hotel management at university in Hong Kong. During four years of studying, I had opportunities of internships in Beijing and BangKok, and also did a semester exchange in France. I was interested in working overseas after graduation and was looking for a management training programme, which is one option for hospitality graduates. I didn’t have a specific country that I wanted to live in then, and I just saw Park Hyatt Tokyo was hiring a corporate leadership trainee. I fortunately got the position and came here 2 months after graduation, July in 2017.
I was on a one year corporate training programme and worked in all the departments in the hotel. For the first three months, I worked in the departements outside rooms: for example, Sales and Marketing, Food and Beverage, and also Housekeeping. For the rest of the program, I focused on the room departments, including Guest Experience, Front Office, and Wellness Department. At the end of the programme, I got promoted as the leader of the Guest Experience team which I was responsible for providing personalized and luxury experiences for VIP guests, and I worked for another year in that position. Then, I was approached by the Director of Revenue Management in Sales and Marketing, and was asked if I was interested in working as a Revenue Analyst. I was excited about this transfer opportunity and worked there for nine months before I joined WealthPark.
Were you looking for a change when you decided to move to Revenue Management?
While working in Guest Experience had provided me with important experiences of learning how to deal with different types of people including VIP, I was also interested in the financial side of hotel management. Although I only had basic knowledge about revenue management, which I gained from university, I wanted to challenge myself.
What did you learn from the experiences in each department?
In Guest Experience, I had my first management experience, which was quite different from working on my own. Through managing the team of five members with different cultural backgrounds, I learned how important it is for a leader to create an environment where everyone is respected as well as to improve their performance. As a young leader, I was also trying to be humble and listen to opinions from everybody.
As a Revenue Analyst, I assisted the Director in deciding revenue and price strategies to maximise the profit of the hotel by selling our property’s inventory to the right guests at the right time. To do so, it is critical for revenue managers to be able to deal with numbers analytically and strategically. As soon as I transferred, I went to China to attend a training programme for revenue managers from Hyatt hotels in the Asia Pacific region. I learned how to work with numbers and their revenue systems.
In particular, we had responsibility to make decisions about pricing and sales channels such as our website, travel agencies, and wholesale. We monitored the supply and demand of our hotel rooms. We also studied our competitors as well as tracked their prices everyday, and gathered information to expect demands from salespeople who communicate with clients. For revenue management, it is very important to grasp details to make a right decision. Available data and ways to track and analyse is diverse, and revenue management needs to understand how to use them effectively to turn a profit.
It sounds like you were following a promising career path at the hotel, having experienced various departments including the front-end and back-end. Why did you consider moving to a different industry from there?
Working in Revenue Management was much different from that in Guest Experience. I was mostly working with numbers and sitting at the office from nine to five, and I realised that I would be more suitable for a job that includes the interaction with people. This got me thinking that I should try something else: a job that would allow me to face clients as well as utilise my financial knowledge. I didn't want to go back to Guest Experience or try other hotels since I always want to learn new things, and I started looking for jobs in different industries.
Want to contribute to pushing the level of service of Asset Management
How did you get into WealthPark?
A recruitment agency introduced me to WealthPark. I didn't know much about the real estate industry, but I found them very interesting after I did some research on them. Also, the point that the organization is international was attractive to me. Considering their markets, I thought I could use my language abilities, Cantonese, Mandarins, and English.
Throughout three interviews with them, everybody that I met was very friendly and passionate about what they were doing. I felt they were trying to know about me, and they showed their interest in my experience in hotel business and evaluated how I have communicated with different people. I also understood that they wanted to push the level of the service and I wanted to contribute to that.
At each interview, they gave me various options. At the first interview, they suggested a Sales Marketing position because of my latest background, but then they offered me a Customer Success position after the second interview because they evaluated my experiences in customer relations. At the last interview, they also offered me an Asset Management position, and I accepted that. Now I think this was a good decision for me as I can comprehensively learn about real estate business in this position.
What do you do at the Asset Management Department?
I support overseas owners, mostly from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Singapore, to manage their property investment in Japan. While I assist those clients, I communicate with the local management team for all the operational issues. In sum, I function as a communication hub between investors and the local management team.
In addition to that, I was chosen to be a part of a new property management project launched in the UK about two months ago. With a leader based in Hong Kong, I support Hong Kong investors who are considering purchasing the properties in the UK. We just started and now the leader is approaching potential investors in Hong Kong as well as local brokers and property management companies in the UK. I have already started servicing a few investors based in Hong Kong. Once this project succeeds, we want to expand it to different countries.
Thrive on communicating with clients and building relationships with them
How have you coped with the lack of experiences in this industry?
Since I started without knowledge in real estate and property management, the first training with my mentor was really helpful. I asked her about everything that I didn't understand and also learned from chat histories between other members and clients. There are also legal parts that I have to cover and I started studying to get two licences regarding that: Takuchi Tatemono Torihiki Shi and Chintai Fudosan Keiei Kanrishi. It is hard, especially because I study in Japanese, and I don’t know if I can pass, but studying for those licenses itself is interesting and insightful to me. The knowledge gives me confidence in providing clients with better quality service.
How do you work with your team members?
Asset Management members are all Chinese natives basically because the job requires Chinese language ability. Each member works individually and professionally for each client rather than working as a team, although we support each other. Actually I haven't met them in person after COVID 19 as we work remotely, but our online communication is very active. I like how we work now and feel more productive since I can control my schedule better at home. I think we are adopting a remote work system well.
Outside the team, we work closely with the Property Management team and the Customer Service team. We also have a regular meeting with the Engineering team because they want to know what is the problem at our end.
What part do you enjoy most in your job?
I thrive on communicating with clients and building relationships with them. We often get complaints from the owners, which is understandable considering that they live overseas and tend to be nervous about what is going on with their investment here. One thing that motivates me is to receive good comments from those who used to have complaints.
I also enjoy the opportunities that they give me here. For example, I was assigned to be a translator for online webinar held for all Hong Kong investors. My manager prepared a presentation and I translated from Japanese into Cantonese, which was a challenging but rewarding experience. There are many more opportunities than I expected, and I like this environment that makes me grow.
What would you like to challenge at WealthPark?
After studying the two licences related to property management, I'm interested in learning about real estate transactions next. For the UK project, I also want to learn about the UK property market. That's what I have in my mind now, but no one knows the future since there are so many new things going on at this company (laugh).
Enjoy my life in Tokyo with good friends
How do you find your life in Tokyo?
For the first year when I came, I didn't adjust well because my Japanese level was not good. But I studied, and now I have more opportunities to make friends and enjoy life in Tokyo.
The one thing that I like about Japanese community is Japanese are more passionate for what they like and are respectful of artists and craftsmen. This is reflected in that people here choose more freely their jobs compared to those in Hong Kong. I think Hong Kong is more or less materialistic and our ideal professional options are limited such as doctors and lawyers. This may be because Hong Kong is very small and the living cost is expensive. In Tokyo, I can easily meet and hang out with people who are working and living in their own ways.
How do you spend your weekend?
I usually hang out with my friends. I made really good friends through InterNations, a community that connects expats from different countries. I recommend this for people who started living in Japan. I also love travelling with my friends. I think one of the good things about living in Japan is that it is quite big to travel. I do hot yoga twice or three times a week to be relaxed and also enjoy swimming and cooking.
Could you give a message for the members as well as those who are interested in joining WealthPark?
To the members, I want to tell them that I truly appreciate their trust and the opportunities that they give to me. I am looking forward to learning more as well as to contributing to the company. To those who are interested in working with us, if you are looking for flexibility and international atmosphere in the workplace, it is definitely a place for you. You don’t have to worry if you do not have experience in the real estate business. Everyone is happy to teach as long as you have the right attitude.
Thank you for sharing your story.
飯田 明 | Mei Iida
渉外法律事務所にてファイナンス・パラリーガルを務めた後、大学院留学を挟んで飲食業の世界へ。外資系チョコレート会社のDirector of Communicationsとして、HR/ブランディングを担当。現在はフリーランスに転向し、複数の会社とのプロジェクトを通じて、カフェのプロデュース事業や人事、国内外のダイニングイベントの企画・運営に携わっている。
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