More than just a 24/7 business
Coming up with new concepts is key to hurdling new challenges in the hospitality industry
Hotelier Lawrence Li Tan attributes his success in the highly demanding hospitality industry in the Philippines to a very special woman.
“My mother, Mama Rosa, who used to manage a Chinese restaurant, taught me that there’s nothing easy about this business. She made me understand that this is not just a 24/7 job, but more of a calling, a vocation. We in this industry do not get to enjoy holidays and special family events. We are always on-call to see to it that we provide the best guest satisfaction at all times,” Tan said.
Lawrence Li Tan
A graduate of the Royal Institute for Hospitality Management in Singapore who later earned his masters in business administration degree from Arellano University and currently completing his doctorate in business administration at Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Manila, Lance is currently in charge of three emerging establishments known for their specific themes.
In The Dessert Museum in Pasay City, which is operated by A Thousand Concepts Inc., he offers “a sweet wonderland featuring eight mouth-watering rooms of sugar-filled happiness.”
With the pastel-colored The Inflatable Island in Olongapo City, run by Beach Bosses Inc., he boasts of the biggest floating playground in the country.
A room in The Happy Beach Cebu
And with the equally colorful The Happy Beach Cebu, Lance provides the definition of “summer in the millennium” with his “Bali meets Disneyland” theme resort.
As the group chief operating officer handling these companies, Lance has overseen their rapid growth that only had 150 employees when he joined the team last year. Over a year later, his manpower is now about 500 personnel.
“We were able to streamline the necessities in operations, from manpower to actual consumable items; improved the guests’ experience in our venues and attractions; and most important, I was able to lead a team to envision more for the future and help direct where the whole team is going. Right now, we are happy and at the same time busy preparing for the new concepts that we will be launching this 2019,” he shared.
More than just a mere entrepreneur, Lance considers himself “a visionary who knows what concepts will work and inspire a lot of people.”
“I always start with a vision rather than numbers. And [so far] it has worked for me and the companies that I work with,” he said.
“Right now, our companies produces millennial concepts that makes our business units a major influencer in the industries where we have presence. All of our concepts are proudly Filipino and original designs. We take our market seriously [and] we always make sure that what they want and what will tickle their senses. At the end of the day, what matters most is the kind of experience that you let your guests bring home with them.”
Eyeing the future, which Lance regards as their “platform for continuous innovation and playground for immense conceptual ideas,” he wants his companies to be “the biggest operator of unique concepts not only in the country, but also outside Asia.”
“We will be opening three more businesses by third quarter of this year and we will not stop in creating more unique ideas to make the industry happy and at par with the international market,” he said.
Throughout his success, Lance has never forgotten the many lessons he learned from his mother, which he continues to impart with members of his team.
“The very first lesson that I’ll always treasure and still share with my team was when she literally cut me off from contacting her. I was in the US then doing my internship under the President’s Scholarship program of Centro Escolar University. My mom then had our residence telephone line disconnected so that I would not be able to call home and ask help for me to go back to Manila,” he recalled.
“That situation left me with no choice but to learn to live on my own in a foreign country. It was then that I was able to focus on being best with what I do, because if I want to go home I need to earn big money to buy my plane ticket and I need to do it fast. From being a public area attendant in Grand Canyon, Arizona, I was promoted as a room attendant after three weeks and the story goes on until I was promoted to F&B banquet manager before finally deciding to go back to the Philippines, where I received an offer to be assistant general manager in one of the hotel chains in Manila.”
His advice to those who also wish to succeed not only in the hospitality industry, but any industry, for that matter? “Don’t rush things. Everything will fall into its proper place and don’t ever use other people to reach your goals, because your time will come if you are built and ready enough. And when that time comes, you already have all the skills and knowledge to handle your success. Thus it is more gratifying to savor the fruit of your success without hurting anybody,” he said.