First Philippine Hospitality Summit Held Feb 2018

First Philippine Hospitality Summit Held Feb 2018

On 28th February 2018 the first two-day Philippine Hospitality Summit was held in Manila.

C-level Executives from hotels, investing companies, regulators, construction companies, architects, financial institutions and industry related association members gathered at the Grand Ballroom of Solaire Resort and Casino.

Maria Lourdes F. Japson, Department of Tourism’s Assistant Secretary at the Philippines 1st Hospitality Summit
Department of Tourism’s Assistant Secretary, Maria Lourdes F. Japson

The Department of Tourism’s Assistant Secretary, Maria Lourdes F. Japson, under the office of the Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation opened the event.  The National Tourism Development Plan, highlighting current tourism data as well as industry goals for up until 2022, was presented to event goers.  Japson highlighted the two strategic directions set in the Plan are:-

1) To improve competitiveness and

2) Pursue sustainability.

Mr. Eugene T. Yap, President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines and Vice President and General Manager of Bayview Park Hotel, followed Assistant Secretary Japson’s opening address, with his keynote Speech.  Mr. Yap’s address highlighted a number of prominent issues:-

1) The need to increase rooms inventory to meet the rising demand from travellers

2) The importance of peace and security that must be assured by all stakeholders.

3) An improvement to Immigration Laws, with regard to Tourist Visas, and extension of stay.  In order to further encourage tourist spending as well as inter-travel within the country, and the ASEAN region.

4) A greater promotion, by Stakeholders, of Cultural Tourism, to include restoration and preservation of heritage sites and/or cultural buildings.

The event Chairwoman, Ms. Sigrid G. Zialcita – Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services Asia Pacific at Cushman & Wakefield, provided tourism statistics within the ASEAN region, showing a positive outlook for the Philippine tourism industry.

Philippine Hospitality Summit – Panel Discussion: Top Talks: Opportunities and Challenges in Philippines Hospitality Market

The first Panel Discussion, featured Moderator Mr. Richard Raymundo (Managing Director Colliers International Philippines), Mr. Adam Laker (Area General Manager Accor Hotels Philippines & General Manager Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila), Mr. David Wray (Vice President of Acquisitions and Business Development, Wyndham Hotel Group).  Mr. Samie Lim (Director in Charge of Tourism, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry),  Ms. Carolina Fagnani (Sr Director Development SEA, Rezidor Hotel Group) and Mr. Eugene T. Yap, President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines.

The opening speeches during the event were filled with significant trends and updates from the industry. The panel discussed the opportunities and challenges in the Philippine hospitality market.

Philippine Hospitality Summit Day 1 Panel Speakers
(L to R) Mr. Richard Raymundo, Mr. Adam Laker, Mr. David Wray, Mr. Samie Lim, Ms. Carolina Fagnani, Sr., and Mr. Eugene T. Yap

After the first Panel, two presentations followed focusing on how technology can enhance the guest experience:-

Mr. Emil Choi, Networks System Engineer, Hospitality & MDU Solution – APAC Ruckus, spoke about the “Future Hospitality IT Trends and Why Hotel Wifi Has Become More Important Than Before

Ms. Debbie Obias, Segment Marketing Head, Vice President, Globe myBusiness discussed “How Technology Can Help Improve Your Customer’s Hotel Experience”. 

Mr. Bernard Kee, Regional Manager South East Asia, STR Global, in his keynote speech, “Strive, Struggle & a New Hope” presented some interesting statistics on Intra-Asian travel and how the Philippines gauge against its neighboring countries.

Mr. David Boker, Manager International Operations Silverbyte, reiterated the importance and contribution of technology in managing customer experience, in his speech the “Customer Journey and Guest Experience”

Mr. Wouter G. Piet, CEO, E-Hors Inc, raised a few eyebrows within the audience with his keynote: “OTA’s Are Too Powerful, Take Back Your Business”.  Piet recommended stakeholders build their own collaborated website, and boycott online travel agents sites, with their high commissioning rates.  The influence of BlockChain Technology could be one route for hotels to gain back the power.

Philippine Hospitality Summit – Panel Discussion: New Wave of Customer: Milleniall /Fillenials Travelers: Who Are They and How to Win Them

Day one ended with an engaging panel discussion by a number of movers and shakers in the industry. Mr. Thomas Wenger (Managing Director Enderun Hospitality Management) moderated the discussion on “New Wave of Customer: Milleniall /Fillenials Travelers: Who Are They and How to Win Them” .

Philippines Hospitality Summit Day 1: Panel 2
Panel 2 Day 1: (L-R) Mr. Thomas Wenger, Mr. James Montenegro, Mr. Alfred Lay, Mr. Bruce Musick, Ms. Lisa Zakharka, and Ms. Lei Policapio

Panelists included Mr. James Montenegro (Country Head PHI Chroma Hospitality), Ms. Lei Policarpio (Group General Manager, Hotel Of Asia Inc.), Mr. Bruce Musick (Group CEO, Vanguard Hotels Pte Ltd), Ms. Lisa Zakharka (General Manager, Feliz Boracay) and Mr. Alfred Lay (VP -Hotels & Leisure Consulting, GCI Hospitality).  The Panelists shared interesting approaches that could be taken, by the next generation of leaders.  This next generation will form more than 50% of the workforce in the next few years; bringing with them new ideas and generational experiences for engaging with travellers.

Day 2: Philippine Hospitality Summit (1st March 2018)

Ms. Sigrid G. Zialcita, Managing Director Research and Advisory Services, Asia Pacific, Cushman & Wakefield gave an opening address, covering highlights of the first day, before handing over to a Panel Discussion.

 Philippine Hospitality Summit – Panel Discussion: Architecture & Interior Design at Its Best

Mr. Felino A. Palafox JR (Principal Architect-Urban Planner and Palafox Associates President, Palafox Architecture Group, Inc.) was called on to moderate, a panel which included: Mr. Norman Agleron (Principal Architect, HBA Philippines), Mr. Runddy Ramilo (Managing Director, IDA Associates), Mr. Eduardo Mendoza (Design Director, IIDA International), and Ms. Marjorie May Mariano (Vice President, Planning and Design Department).

Day 2 Panel: Architecture & Interior Design at Its Best
Philippine Hospitality Summit: Day 2 Panel: (L-R) Mr. Felino “Jun” Palafox JR, Mr. Norman Agleron, Mr. Eduardo Mendoza, Mr. Runddy Ramilo and Ms. Marjorie May Mariano

The panel of architects discussed “Architecture & Interior Design at Its Best”, focusing on current trends and technologies used in the Hospitality industry.

The panel took a number of questions from the audience, including how panelists might marry the two concepts of aesthetic and functionality in design, in architecture, and trends and technologies in Green Architecture/Sustainable Design.

Ms. Sandra Bucao (Country Managing Director, Intertek Philippines) gave a Keynote speech “Food Safety Monitoring Programs for the Hospitality Industry”, followed by Mr.Joseph Ross (President of Cocoon Labs and Wayne Miranda – VP of UAS), whose keynote was“Digital Solutions for Hotels – Know Your Customers through Digital Analytics in order to Serve Them Better and Increase Revenue”.

Mr. Bobby Horrigan (Vice President Hotel Division, Hotel & Restaurant Association of the Philippines) roused everyone after lunch with his keynote address “Taking Hospitality to the Next Level”; focusing on innovations and constant improvements in operations in order to better serve the guests better.

Mr. Eric Paul Manuel, SBU Head, Kalinisan Chemicals Corp. then took the stand to discuss “The Importance of Cleaning and Sanitation in the Hospitality Industry”; highlighting that quality housekeeping is not just about getting the most cost-efficient materials, but also training the right people for the roles.

Closing Panel Discussion – “Trends in the Philippine Hospitality Industry”

Mr. Rick Santos, Chairman & CEO of Santos Knight Frank moderated the discussion, with Mr. Ante Baric (Development Director Dusit International), Mr. Felix Guggenheim (President, GCI Hospitality), Mr. Hanky Lee (Founder of The Henry Hotels Group) and Mr. Bruce Winton (Cluster General Manager, Marriott Hotels in the Philippines (TBC))

Philippine Hospitality Summit: Trends in the Philippine Hospitality Industry
Mr. Santos Knight with Mr. Hanky Lee
Philippine Hospitality Summit: Trends in the Philippine Hospitality Industry
Mr. Hanky Lee with Mr. Ante Baric

Overall, the first Philippine Hospitality Summit was felt to be a success, with good feedback and interaction from the participants.  The venue was rated as excellent and the selection of resource speakers were proficient and very much appreciated by the attendees.

Visit the  Filipino Hospitality Facebook Page for more updates!

About the author:

Martin S. Aguilar is the founder, lead trainer and consultant of The Filipino Hospitality, a management consultancy group that collaborates with ASEAN Master Trainers and Assessors in the Philippines.  Recognized by the Department of Tourism and Technical Education Skills Development Authority, he is a Certified Management Consultant and a Six Sigma Black Belt with over 15 years of experience in various roles and responsibilities in the hospitality and tourism industry as well as the academe.

He may be reached at or visit and like The Filipino Hospitality Facebook Page for more details.

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Written by Trudy Allen

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