A good leader possesses not one but a combination of many good qualities. For Bayview Park Hotel Manila’s General Manager Eugene T. Yap, his best assets stem from his innate compassion for people and the desire to always provide service that only gets better over time.
Mr. Yap took his seat as the hotel’s General Manager in 2002, but he has been with Bayview Hotel Development Corp., the company that owns and operates the hotel, since it acquired the property in the late 1980s. At that time, he was serving from the company’s head office in Makati as part of the legal team that handled the property acquisition. Later, he was tasked to look over the structure’s renovations and repairs.
It may seem like a stretch for a corporate lawyer to work in the operations and management side of a hotel. After getting a business degree at the University of Santo Tomas in 1985, Atty. Yap pursued a legal career and went straight to law school at Manuel L. Quezon University, before passing the bar exams in 1990. But as he recalls, “You know how children usually dream what they always see? When we were younger, whenever we go to restaurants or hotels and service is given to us superbly and we feel happy about it, you tend to feel like you want to work in those types of service. At that time there wasn’t really much of a ‘hospitality industry’ to be spoken of so I wouldn’t call this my childhood dream. But when our company acquired Bayview, I simply began to love the property.”
The passion to serve people became Yap’s main drivers at work. “In the hospitality industry, we serve our guests and we take care of our employees. In the legal practice, we also take care of our clients and our staff. So, in this aspect, they are really not much different,” he says. He believes that good service can only be provided to hotel guests when the people working behind the scenes are also being valued by their leader, so he strives to give them a good working environment and has even adopted a program called the Managers’ Initiative. Through this program, employees are encouraged to pitch in their suggestions on how they can improve the hotel’s services, amenities, and even marketing efforts, and gives them the platform to explore their ideas. He also puts value in having a work-life balance among his employees and even with himself. “I always set a time limit for work because when you are enjoying the work, you tend to lose track of time and you should never lose time for your family. It is also important for me and my staff to recharge once in a while so we can provide better service to our guests when we return to work.”
When asked to describe his leadership style, “You can say relaxed but still professional. I believe in accountability where each one is responsible for their own actions, but I also believe in learning from others. I am forever a student of the hospitality industry so I try my best to learn from all people.” He constantly keeps a listening ear open for comments and suggestions from every person who walks into the hotel because he believes that “Guests are your best teachers.” He says, “How do I know when I’m doing a good job? When I see guests smiling. When they are satisfied with your service, that guest will keep coming back and keep asking for you. When the guest starts needing you, that means you’re doing something right.”
Not only at Bayview Park Hotel does Mr. Yap apply his mantras of good leadership. He also takes pride in being the president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP). As leader to the organization, he aims to leave a mark in the industry through his “leadership by accommodation,” which is founded on understanding, being approachable, and being reasonable. “Just keep on giving the best available service to your guests and don’t forget to give your employees the pat on the back that they deserve. When you start receiving compliments from your guests and loyalty from staff, that’s where success comes in.”