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Hotel Corner

Byron Ko, General Manager at the newly opened Hotel VIC,

MEET THE GENERAL MANAGER Byron Ko, General Manager at the newly opened Hotel VIC, shares with us his experience in the hotel industry and at the new hotel he manages.

I've worked in the hotel industry for 35 years. I joined the old Hyatt Regency in TST by chance, starting out as a receptionist for five years. I was named as an Ambassador by the Hong Kong Tourist Association, the first employee from Hyatt to be so selected. I then went into sales and marketing, learning about other aspects of the hotel business, and my career grew from there.

I've moved around a lot. Besides Hong Kong, I've worked in 7 cities in China, including Dalian, Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin, Kunming, Nanyang in Henan, and Yantai in Shandong, plus Melbourne, and in various roles. One of my early mentors advised me that to advance my career I needed to see more places, learn more things and move around – and that's what I did.

Hotel VIC is positioned quite uniquely. Our slogan is "Travel as a local; stay as a fashionista!" What we mean is that North Point, where the hotel is located, is an old neighbourhood, with lots of history and local experiences to offer, something tourists are increasingly looking for. The hotel itself though offers 5-star luxury, trendy design and a high-tech experience. We offer smart-living experience: our Hotel Vic app allows you to check in and out using our checkout Kiosk, plus access to all the guest services functions; we offer lightning-fast WiFi connection and our gym has two VR experience machines, a first in the city.

My favourite parts of the job are twofold: I enjoyed the pre-opening. it was tough and challenging. But as an independent hotel, we weren’t constrained by a rigid set of guidelines. This has allowed us to be much more creative and flexible in deciding how best to meet our guests’ needs. Now that the hotel is opened I enjoy the new challenges every day, like this unprecedented typhoon we just had, through which our team worked day and night to make sure both the guests and the property were safe and we kept the business running.

I think being a good manager means you listen well – whether it's your guests, whom I always try to ask about their stay experience and feedback, or my staff. A GM cannot serve every guest by himself, or work 24 hours – he is totally dependent on the frontline staff to take care of the guests – so I want to make sure they are listened to and are happy with their jobs.

My favourite thing about Hong Kong is that it is so safe and convenient – you can walk everywhere at night and, with MTR and other public transport, it is so easy to get around anywhere, so you can do a lot in a short time.

My three recommendations for visitors to Hong Kong:

1. Eat at Tung Po restaurant next door at the cooked food market and experience local food with local people

2. Check out Sunbeam Theatre nearby, the only one left in Hong Kong still performing Cantonese opera.

3. Get as souvenirs hand-made egg rolls from Duck Shing Ho located close by. Be there early as they sell out early.

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