A Work Week With Daniel Welk, Vice President, Luxury and Lifestyle, Asia Pacific, Hilton
Ever wondered what it was like to be a leader in hospitality? Well read on.
With a six and a half hour red eye flight to Tokyo starting today's schedule, I am focused on getting as much sleep as possible, since I have two meetings and a panellist slot planned at a hotel investor conference I am attending later today.
Upon arrival, I freshen up at Conrad Tokyo and have a much-needed coffee with the General Manager. I tend to prefer a light breakfast, especially when preluding back-to-back appointments; fruit and muesli are my go-to.
The first meeting I have scheduled is with a potential owner. We talk about Hilton’s legacy, our outstanding growth and the strength of Hilton as a partner.
Post lunch with colleagues, I have a media interview, and by 4pm, I am briefed for my next panellist slot at 5pm. The panel discussion goes well, and the audience is very engaged. After wrapping up, I join a networking event until 7.30pm. I then freshen up and transfer to Hilton Narita, since I have another early morning flight the next day. In the hotel, I spend some time catching up on emails and go to sleep by midnight.
I start my Tuesday at 5am with a run, followed by coffee (of course!) and by 7am, I am at the airport for my 8.40am flight to Chengdu. Today’s focus is visiting our new Canopy by Hilton Chengdu City Center, meeting ownership and inspecting our iconic Waldorf Astoria Chengdu. Chengdu always inspires me – it is a fantastic city, and I always enjoy my visits.
Upon arrival, I head straight to meet with our incredible partners of Canopy by Hilton Chengdu. We discuss the proposed hotel opening date, the construction progress, recruitment and the commercial ramp up for the hotel. This hotel will mark the launch of Canopy by Hilton in Asia Pacific, and the team at Hilton are committed to ensuring that the brand launch is a great success.
Post meeting, I meet the hotel team, tour the site and have a debrief with our marketing team. The energy of the team is remarkable – their desire to launch the hotel to great acclaim makes me incredibly proud.
After the visit, I head to the Waldorf Astoria Chengdu at 7pm to meet with the owners’ representative for tea. We discuss the hotel's performance, brand support and most importantly, the opportunities we need to focus on collectively. With my last visit being four months ago, it felt amazing to be at the hotel once again. There is nothing quite like towering 50 stories above the Chengdu skyline!
My meeting goes well, and I proceed to tour the hotel with the General Manager. We discuss trading performance, our team members, guests and service quality. We then sit down for a Sichuan dinner. The generous amount of spice was precisely what I needed after a full day of travelling!
By 10pm, I return to my room where I reply to emails that require attention, and prepare for my 7am flight the next day.
Departing from the hotel at 5am had me focused on one thing: coffee. Thankfully, I am well acquainted with Chengdu airport and know the best place to go.
Upon arrival in Hangzhou, the General Manager of Canopy by Hilton Hangzhou Jinsha Lake receives me, and I begin the day's agenda: inspecting construction progress at two remarkable additions to Hilton’s Luxury and Lifestyle portfolio, Canopy by Hilton Hangzhou Jinsha Lake and Conrad Hangzhou. I meet with the project teams and ownership to align on the proposed opening dates, budgets and the commercial launch of the hotel.
The site of Conrad Hangzhou is a stunning building that sits in a prime city centre location. There, the hotel General Manager and I conduct a town hall meeting with the team. The team, much like their beautiful city, buzzes with vitality.
Later, I whisk off to the station to make my 5pm train ride to Shanghai. The hour-long journey whizzes by as I catch up on the day and make a couple of phone calls. Before I know it, I’ve arrived at Hongqiao station.
I transfer quickly to the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai and meet with the hotel General Manager to discuss the logistics for the next two days and the upcoming ILTM Shanghai event the following week. Bearing in mind my five media interviews the next day, I retire to my room to review my notes. Our communications team consistently prepares thorough briefing notes for my interviews, so my mind is at ease.
I go for a run first thing in the morning; and take the route along the bund, right at the doorstep of the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai. Then, I freshen up and have a breakfast meeting with our communications team at 8am.
The first of my five interviews start at 9.30am, all of which are 45 minutes long. The interviews serve as fantastic opportunities for me to share Hilton’s Luxury and Lifestyle story and our tremendous growth in the Asia Pacific. The media are keen to know more about the recent opening of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, the launch of THE MURAKA, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s revolutionary undersea residence, and the upcoming launch of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ittahafushi in Q1 2019. My interviews wrap up by 3.30pm, and I am glad to have received valuable insight into China’s luxury market.
After which, I take a few hours for myself and catch up on emails. At 6.30pm I am back to work with our communications team to discuss my presentation for Friday morning.
Friday morning sees me running along the bund once again, followed by breakfast with the team.
My presentation starts at 9.45am, and I share with an audience about the Chinese Luxury traveller and the impact of digitalisation. The presentation is a success and I receive positive feedback from the delegates.
I bid farewell to the Hilton’s Shanghai team and head to the airport to catch my 2pm flight back to Singapore. During the flight, I take the time to review the past week, send follow-ups, then finally listen to music and relax.
Upon arrival in Singapore, I make my way to our annual company dinner and dance. I arrive at 9pm, and enjoy catching up with the Singapore team. Friends and family altogether make for the perfect end to my week.
By 11pm, I am exhausted, take my leave, and depart for home.