In an era marked by innovations and reformative individuals, sculpting an identity for oneself with chisels of creativity, determination and leadership, has been deemed essential. One such outstanding individual who has marked her evident presence and identity in the hospitality sector is Cinn Tan, the CMO of Pan Pacific Hotels Group.
Cinn oversees and drives the marketing and sales strategy of Pan Pacific Hotels Group, which operates 40 Pan Pacific and PARKROYAL hotels, resorts and serviced suites in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. She has more than 20 years of sales and marketing management experience from international hotels in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Cinn was previously Senior Vice-President of Sales & Marketing for Jin Jiang International Hotels, and Vice-President of Sales & Distribution and Brand Marketing for the Ascott Group.
Cinn joined the hotel group in August 2017. Since then, she has spearheaded the Group’s brand refresh along with several strategic marketing initiatives. These include a revamped brand website and ‘Pan Pacific Connections,’ the group’s new corporate loyalty program. As a critical component of its China strategy, Pan Pacific Hotels Group became the first Asia-based hotel brand to launch a WeChat mini-program, which provides authentic travel guides and e-concierge services to its hotels globally to all WeChat users.
Ascension from Challenges through Faith
Cinn has been exposed to different cultures since her youth as she has had the opportunity to travel extensively with her parents. This in turn, nurtured a keen sensitivity in her and the ability to relate to people from different backgrounds. This attribute would eventually help her succeed in her budding sales career as she was able to exercise her people skills and to build a strong network of supportive clients very quickly.
Fresh out of school and determined that she wanted a career in sales and marketing in the hospitality sector, Cinn met her first roadblock when she was told by the HR Manager during an interview, for a sales job in a hotel, that she was not suitable for the sales profession and ‘should not waste her time searching for a job in sales & marketing.’ That did not deter her from applying to another hotel when a Sales Executive opportunity opened up.
This time however, Cinn had to face the disapproval of her traditional family, whose members saw her as a woman working till late hours in a hotel. This was more than 25 years ago, where not many people, especially in Asia, were familiar with the nature of work in the hospitality sector.
Despite the objections, Cinn stayed with the job and worked doubly hard and in less than two years, she was promoted twice and rose from Sales Executive to Sales Manager. These experiences, early on in Cinn’s career shaped her outlook on life and strengthened her belief that one should not let others dictate one’s capabilities and potential.
Cinn is anchored by her faith and its teachings, which has shaped her leadership style. She believes in ‘serving leadership’, where in order to lead, one has to serve first. Guided by honesty, integrity, and a genuine care for others regardless of personal or professional interactions, she believes that her faith is a source of strength which has given her purpose in life and sustained her in challenging times.
A Volatile Discipline
“Marketing has become so multi-faceted that it’s no longer a pure marketing function,” states Cinn.
Cinn asserts that a CMO has to be involved in the entire customer journey and in the creation of the customer experience which is consistent with what the brand can offer. He or she has to navigate an increasingly complex operating environment, across geographies and cultures, and keep up with the accelerating pace of change and lead company-wide changes to ensure that the company continues to deliver to the customer. This requires a CMO to work across functions including operations, training and development, and technology information to deliver results.
The popularity of new media and the ever-increasing number of distribution channels and the fragmentation of customer segments have redefined and expanded the role of a CMO, who has to be intimately familiar with customer preferences and be highly-attuned to changes to the marketplace.
Marketing is no longer about having big flashy advertising campaign across broadcast and print. There’s so much about personalization, targeting and retargeting with the advent of Big Data, which allows for unprecedented customer segmentation. Lead times have also become much shorter and faster so marketing has to be pre-emptive and proactive.
The Essentials of an Efficient Marketeer
Emphasizing upon the characteristics of an ideal CMO, Cinn states, “to lead effectively, a CMO needs to be able to inspire others; he or she must be a change agent, one who has original ideas and is not confined to the status quo. Through leading by example, a CMO encourages others to be a leader in their sphere of influence and not simply be a follower.”
“Besides having technical skills including market awareness and field expertise, a CMO needs to be dynamic, open-minded, sensitive and aware of the constant flux in the bigger operating environments,” she adds.
Concluding her definition of an ideal CMO, Cinn expresses, “I believe that the fundamental function of the leader is to create more leaders not followers, being a senior leader means having the patience and willingness to identify and groom talent and nurturing the next generation of leaders for the company and the industry-at-large. The sense of pride which one gets from helping others grow comes from the sincere humility to learn from others, regardless of age, experience, or seniority.”
A Conglomerate Redefining Hospitality
Pan Pacific Hotels Group is the only regional hotel chain to offer three products – hotels, resorts and serviced suites, which cater to short and long-stay needs across corporate and leisure segments. With 25 hotels, resorts and serviced suites across Asia, Oceania and North America, the group’s hotels are located in key cities around the world, and appeal to globetrotters and individuals who seek excellence in life – whether at work or at play.
PARKROYAL Hotels on the other hand is passionate about creating real connections and joyous moments, which can be felt across all 15 properties across Asia and Australia. Following the success of its flagship, PARKROYAL Penang Resort in Malaysia, the group is building two more resorts in Malacca and Langkawi in the country.
The group’s serviced suites are designed to meet the needs of guests, such as expatriates, who require accommodation for weeks or months at a time. Under both its Pan Pacific and PARKROYAL brands, it offers one and two-bedroom options to cater to individuals as well as those travelling with family. In addition to round-the-clock, personalized service, the group has a distinct advantage of being able to offer an extensive range of culinary concepts and wellness facilities within its hotels, which are located in the vicinity.
Continuing Sincere Endeavors
Pan Pacific Hotels Group has established itself as a trusted hotel management company with aspirations to be the best in Asia Pacific. “Sincerity is the hallmark of Pan Pacific Hotels Group and we will continue to invest in relationships with people who make us the preferred hotel company. They depend on us to deliver positive outcomes, high standards and returns, and that drives everything we do,” Cinn asserts.
Recently, the group has launched its corporate bookers’ loyalty program named Pan Pacific Connections, to better engage and grow the corporate segment. It continues to expand its network of global sales offices to provide close and dedicated support to its clients. Having opened a new office in Hong Kong this year, the group will be opening its London office next year to support the opening of Pan Pacific London, its flagship in the UK, in 2020.
The forthcoming years hold the opening of Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s first serviced suites property in Jakarta in Indonesia, located at the Thamrin area in the city center, as well as PPHG’s flagship property, Pan Pacific London. These will offer 237 hotel and 160 luxury residence keys in a 43-storey building in the financial district, next to Liverpool station.
In Southeast Asia, there are planned resorts in the pipeline in Malaysia and Vietnam while in Singapore, Pan Pacific Orchard will be redeveloped into an Orchard Road icon when it is completed in 2021. Designed by award-winning WOHA Architects, the hotel will offer 340 rooms with eco-friendly features, surrounded by three levels of experiential sky gardens.
“We are confident that the brand refresh will bring greater visibility and awareness of the Pan Pacific and PARKROYAL brands to the industry as well as the end customer in key markets such as China, Australia, and Southeast Asia,” states Cinn with reference to the current marketing strategy she’s involved in.
With a strong tradition and presence in Asia-Pacific, PPHG appreciates and understands the culture and mindset in the markets it operates in. “We have combined this comprehension with a number of marketing initiatives targeted at increasing awareness of our brands in our key markets, leveraged our core competencies and brand strengths to the fullest, and are well-positioned to grow further in the region,” Cinn adds.
Advising the Aspirants
Cinn’s advice for the upcoming generation of marketing enthusiasts is, “Stay positive, motivated, and put passion into your job. Have fun and enjoy what you do. Having a natural interest and curiosity and being sensitive towards human needs and emotions will help a marketer establish a real connection with the customer. Dare to do what you think is right, be bold, and do not limit your ideas.”
She adds, “It’s critical to build knowledge by keeping up with trends, talking to people, and researching and learning all the time to enhance your knowledge of the customer and the business. Be humble, never stop learning, and most importantly, do not give up in face of challenges. Keep pursuing your passion.”