Speech at 18th Excellent Service Award 2012 Presentation Ceremony (Hospitality Industry)
Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State (Health , Manpower), Rock Auditorium, Suntec City Mall
Mdm Kay Kuok
President of Singapore Hotel Association,
Board and EXCO members of the Association,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. I am happy to join you at this year’s Excellent Service Award (EXSA) Ceremony. Today, we recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals who have delivered quality service in the hospitality industry. Their continuous strive for service excellence is all the more important as Singapore’s hospitality industry continues to boom. I would like to express my appreciation to them for being Singapore's service ambassadors.
Hospitality sector poised for strong growth
- Singapore can expect to receive more visitors in the coming years. We are experiencing positive growth with over 7 million visitor arrivals in the first six months and we continue to expect up to 14.5 million tourists in 2012. New attractions, such as Gardens by the Bay,the River Safari, the marine life park and of course, our two Pandas Jiajia and Kaikai, will boost Singapore’s attractiveness as a tourism destination and draw more visitors. More hotels are being built to capitalise on the growth in tourists. It is estimated that over 8,000 new hotel rooms will be made available over the next 2 to 3 years.
Enhancing productivity to sustain long-term growth
- Even as we prepare for larger numbers of tourists, stronger demands and higher sales turnover, we should remain mindful of the challenges ahead. In the Ministry of Manpower’s recent labour market update, the resident unemployment rate stayed low at 2.8%. This is good news. But it also spells manpower challenges for the hoteliers in this tight labour market. How hoteliers improve labour productivity to cope with the overall manpower constraints is critical.
- Let me share the example of Rendezvous Grand Hotel. To overcome the challenge of a tight labour market, the hotel de-toured from the usual practice of hiring only young workers as room attendants, and instead turned to hiring mature workers for the same post. The hotel found that the mature workers offered several advantages i.e. they were dependable, more experienced, and generally more patient in dealing with various tasks, including mentoring younger workers. To help these mature workers to carry out their housekeeping duties effectively, the hotel adopted motorised trolleys to help its employees to store their cleaning and room supplies. The hotel also uses Ezi-maid, a device that assists in lifting the heavy mattresses to enable the room attendants to clean the hotel rooms faster. The hotel now enjoys greater workflow consistency and efficiency, lower staff turnover, and incurs lower costs on the recruitment and training of new staff.
- Beyond such efforts, the hotels themselves are collaborating on innovative solutions. On 25 July 2011, the Singapore Hotels Association (SHA) launched the SHA Registry of Casual Workers for the industry to address seasonal fluctuations in manpower needs. The Registry is also supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA). Response to this initiative has been positive, with 59 hotels and 1,200 jobseekers registered, and more than 7,000 hours of casual labour placed as of October 2012.
- We are also working closely with the hotels to support new productivity measures. The ‘Job Flexibility for Productivity’ or JFP pilot initiative for the hospitality industry, was launched last month to help better manage manpower needs. It offers hotel employees the opportunity to pick up new skills and work across different job functions within the same hotel. Hotels are also able to deploy their workforce efficiently to improve productivity. This contributes positively to their bottom-line and hotels are encouraged to share the gains by raising wages for workers on the JFP.
- Meanwhile, over 69,000 individuals have been trained under the Tourism WSQ Framework, which offers over 500 different courses to train up locals with the necessary skills for the tourism sector. WDA’s 2011 Outcome Evaluation Survey on WSQ training showed that 90% of trainees reported better work performance after training. They could apply the skills they learnt to be more productive. I therefore urge all hotels to tap on WDA’s training courses and send more of their employees for such training.
- Service excellence is an important measure of productivity in the hospitality industry; it is also the primary reason why hotels – and the hospitality industry in general – will continue to be sustainable and grow.
- Today at EXSA, we see exemplary service stars delivering excellent service to their customers. They serve as good role models for other service staff to emulate.
- One example is Mr Kok Chee Wai from Resorts World Sentosa. Mr Kok works as an assistant manager at PALIO, and manages the restaurant operations. He goes beyond the call of duty by keeping a personal log of all his regular guests’ preferences. This attention to detail is truly impressive, and invites guests to return for his impeccable service.
- Another example is Madam Marlina Binte Mohamad Anuar from Treetops Executive Residences, who works as an Assistant Manager for Guest Services. She has received commendations from many guests. In one such commendation, two guests expressed their gratitude to Marlina for going the extra mile in bringing them on a tour around the Geylang Serai night bazaar to experience the Malay culture.
- Both Mr Kok and Madam Marlina have shown that service excellence is about meeting and going beyond customers’ expectations. Besides Mr Kok and Madam Marlina, there are many of you who have quietly exhibited service excellence at your workplace.
- On this note, I want to take this opportunity to commend your commitment and passion. I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to all the award recipients and wish all of you a most rewarding journey ahead as you and your colleagues continue to bring the hotel industry to greater heights through your outstanding service excellence.
- Thank you.