Big Boss Energy: Dalip Singh, General Manager, Pan Pacific Orchard

by Portfolio Magazine
20 Feb 2024

What are the new rules of business that today’s generation of business leaders follow? In this month’s edition of PORTFOLIO, big bosses from various industries like technology, F&B, and hospitality dish leadership advise and reveal how they walk the talk.

What changes and trends are you anticipating in your industry for 2024? What kind of preparations are you making for it? 
The hospitality landscape in 2024 is poised for transformative changes, driven primarily by the growing influence of technology, sustainability, and a heightened focus on personal wellness. At Pan Pacific Orchard, we're not just observing these trends; we're actively leading the charge in embracing them.

Technology is set to play a pivotal role, especially in light of the ongoing labor shortages. We're leveraging cutting-edge technology not only to enhance operational efficiency, but also enrich the guest experience. Our initiatives range from StayPlease's in-room concierge services and TableCheck's streamlined restaurant reservations to automated RFID linen flow, all designed to provide a more intuitive, customized stay.

Sustainability is another key focus. In today's world where people are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and social responsibility, this shift has also affected how people perceive luxury. Our hotel isn't just about comfort and style; it's also a testament to our strong commitment to conscious practices. We've integrated sustainability features like harnessing clean energy from solar panels and using rainwater for our gardens. We encourage guests to adopt sustainable practices with our in-room hot and ambient filtered water dispensers and providing reusable bottles made from ocean-bound materials available for purchase in their rooms. It's our way of proving that luxury can coexist harmoniously with environmental responsibility.

Personal wellness and wellbeing are increasingly important to travellers, and we're responding by offering experiences that cater to this demand. Our spa services, culinary offerings, and experiences are designed not just for relaxation or enjoyment, but for fostering holistic well-being. Together with WOHA Architects, we made Pan Pacific Orchard to be a tropical oasis in a man-made system, where every terrace will envelop guests in a different environment, and every stay will whisk them to a different themed experience that reflects the environment of that terrace.

The expectations of luxury hotels are no longer just large rooms and high thread-count sheets. Today’s discerning traveller demands of luxury hospitality are continually evolving, and we keep our fingers on the pulse of trends in the industry to ensure that we constantly exceed expectations.

In particular, we note that travellers are turning an eye to exclusive, immersive experiences, and are willing to spend on memorable finds.

In preparation for these trends, we're continuously investing in staff training, technological upgrades, and sustainable initiatives. Our aim is to not just keep pace with industry changes, but to set new benchmarks for what a luxury, eco-conscious hotel can offer in this dynamic era.

(Related: These hotels are responsible for an Orchard Road revival)

Based on personal experience, what makes a good leader in today’s context? What kind of skills are essential to be able to lead a team now?
In today’s dynamic hospitality landscape, effective leadership hinges on a blend of several key qualities and skills, many of which I have honed throughout my two decade-long career journey.

Firstly, adaptability is crucial. The ability to navigate and lead through constant changes in the industry, especially during unprecedented times, is vital. My experiences across different cultures and hospitality brands have taught me the importance of being flexible and responsive to evolving market dynamics and guest expectations.

Secondly, a global perspective, coupled with local sensitivity, is essential. Having worked internationally with prestigious hospitality groups, I've learned the value of integrating global best practices while being deeply attuned to local customs and preferences. This balance is critical in crafting experiences that resonate universally yet feel intimately personal.

Thirdly, visionary leadership is key. It's about seeing beyond the present, anticipating future trends, and preparing the team and the property for what lies ahead. At Pan Pacific Orchard, we're not just creating a luxury hotel; we're envisioning and shaping the future of hospitality.

Communication skills are also paramount. Leading a diverse team effectively means being able to communicate clearly, empathetically, and inspirationally. It's about bridging cultures and experiences within the team to foster a cohesive and motivated workforce.

Furthermore, a commitment to mentorship and team development is a cornerstone of my leadership style. Investing in the growth and development of team members ensures we cultivate a culture of excellence and innovation. It's about empowering individuals to take initiative and excel in their roles.

These skills have been the bedrock of my leadership approach at Pan Pacific Orchard and have guided me in steering our flagship hotel towards new horizons of 'Graceful Luxury’.

(Related: Big Boss Energy - Hari V. Krishnan, CEO and Managing Director, PropertyGuru)

What are the rules of business that you abide by? As a leader, what kind of rules do you set for yourself and your team? 
The cornerstone of our business at Pan Pacific Orchard is the guest experience. Every decision and strategy we implement is designed to enhance and enrich this experience. Our focus is on anticipating needs and exceeding expectations to ensure every guest feels uniquely valued.

In the ever-evolving hospitality industry, staying ahead requires a commitment to innovation. We embrace new technologies and creative concepts, remaining agile and adaptable to continually improve our services and offerings.

My approach to leadership is centred around fostering a culture of collaboration and inclusivity. I promote open communication, encourage the sharing of ideas, and ensure that every team member's voice is heard. This approach not only strengthens our team but also drives more innovative and effective solutions.

Integrity and transparency are the bedrock of our business dealings. Building trust and credibility with our guests and team members is crucial, and it starts with making ethical decisions and maintaining honest communication.

Recognizing that our team is our greatest asset, I focus on empowering and investing in each individual. This includes providing development opportunities, recognizing achievements, and nurturing a supportive and inclusive work environment.

I also encourage my team to reflect these values in their work. Prioritizing the guest experience, embracing change and innovation, collaborating effectively, conducting themselves with integrity, and focusing on team development are key.

Do you have a mentor? If so, what did you learn from them that has proven beneficial in your professional journey? 
Throughout my career in the hospitality industry, I have been fortunate to have mentors who have significantly influenced my professional journey. I have learned the importance of balancing visionary thinking with practical execution. They taught me that while it's crucial to have a forward-thinking approach, success often lies in the details of day-to-day operations. This balance has been instrumental in my roles, from managing luxury resorts to leading high-performing teams in urban hotels.

Another key lesson was the value of empathy in leadership. My mentor emphasized that understanding and connecting with your team on a personal level is vital for fostering a positive and productive work environment. This approach has helped me build strong, resilient teams capable of delivering exceptional guest experiences.

Perhaps the most enduring lesson was about the significance of continuous learning. In an industry as ever-changing as hospitality, staying informed and adaptable is not just an asset, but a necessity. This mindset has driven me to constantly seek new knowledge and experiences, enabling me to lead Pan Pacific Orchard with innovative strategies and a fresh perspective.

These lessons from my mentors have been pivotal in shaping my approach to leadership and management. They have guided me in making strategic decisions, nurturing talent, and steering Pan Pacific Orchard towards new heights in the hospitality industry.

As we move into the future and navigate constantly shifting trends and mindsets, what is the best way to keep up and stay informed? 
In the hospitality industry, learning never stops. I make it a priority to stay abreast of industry news, emerging technologies, and global market trends. This involves regular reading, attending webinars and conferences, and engaging with thought leaders in the field. Keeping up-to-date with the latest research and innovations ensures that we're always at the forefront of industry developments.

Building and maintaining a strong network of peers, experts, and other industry professionals is invaluable. These connections provide diverse perspectives and insights that are crucial for understanding and navigating new trends. Collaborating with others in the industry allows for the exchange of ideas and best practices, fostering a culture of shared learning and innovation.

At Pan Pacific Orchard, our guests are our greatest informants. Feedback and interactions with them provide real-time insights into changing preferences and expectations. By actively listening and responding to guest feedback, we can tailor our services to meet evolving needs and stay ahead of trends.

Encouraging and enabling our team to seek out new information and skills is key. By fostering a culture of curiosity and empowerment, we ensure that our staff are also engaged in the process of learning and adaptation. This collective approach to staying informed helps us to be more responsive and agile as an organisation.