Rachel and I headed over to Berjaya Times Square Hotel on 11 November 2016 for the HAPA Regional 2016-2018 Series Awards Gala Dinner which was a gathering of hospitality professionals from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, to celebrate achievements in hospitality excellence. The last HAPA event I attended was back in 2014 and as I had such a good time there (read more about it here – https://timchew.net/2014/12/16/hospitality-asias-20th-anniversary-party/) I had high expectations for this one and I was definitely not disappointed!
The hospitality sector is big business and crucial to its success is undoubtedly the service element as it is what directly affects a customer’s impression of the establishment. This is even more important in the digital age where consumers are much more vocal with their opinions on social media platforms and too many negative reviews or comments about an establishment can be detrimental to business. Hence prudent business owners know the value of ensuring that their establishment/ outlets provide outstanding service and this is what HAPA is all about.
Along with the award ceremony was the unveiling of the new face of HAPA which reflects Founder, Jennifer Ong’s vision of acknowledging and recognizing people in the industry who make a significant difference in hospitality excellence. Ong said, “The objective of introducing a new face to the HAPA Awards is to connect the Awards Programme to the people in the industry. Hospitality is essentially a “people” industry – managed by the people for the people, from all quarters. The human element is something that goes hand-in-hand with outstanding hospitality achievement. It is therefore, our honour and privilege to pay tribute to those who have excelled exceptionally through dedication, commitment and performance”.
2016 also marks HAPA’s 13th anniversary. Ong said, “We just concluded a very exciting HAPA Regional Series that not only recognises stellar service within the industry but also works to discover new talent and establishments. The HAPA Awards are different because it recognises the unsung heroes from both front and back-of-house for their passion, dedication, extraordinary drive and resilient spirit.”
The HAPA Regional Awards has been a key event in the hospitality industry in Malaysia and Singapore, and in 2008, included properties and personalities from Indonesia and Thailand where participants came from Bali, Jakarta, Bangkok and Phuket. In the 2011 HAPA Regional Series, other regional destinations participated including those from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Manila and the Thai entries also included some from Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. A year later, the HAPA Indonesia Series was launched.
This year’s nominees had the opportunity to nominate for a number of award categories covering most sections of the industry. HAPA recognises those who work hard in their respective sectors and its awards don’t only go to 5-star properties and leading restaurants, but also includes a good cross-section a the industry.
Another highlight of the event was the introduction of the new benchmark system whereby the HAPA Awards enables properties and personalities to benchmark themselves in accordance with the criteria set for each category, and nominees who have surpassed the respective category benchmark score receives an Award for Excellence for their achievements.
All on-site assessments were conducted incognito by HAPA’s panel of auditors comprising hospitality industry professionals, academics, writers, agents, corporate professionals and C-level individuals.
Since the birth of HAPA in 2002, Ong has always maintained the need for the hospitality industry to show its charitable side. Each year, a selected charity foundation is named as the beneficiary of the HAPA Awards Series. The recipient this year is the National Cancer Society of Malaysia in support of the University Malaya Medical Centre and Hospital Kuala Lumpur for cancer children.
The HAPA Awards Series created a platform for the industry to benchmark and improve themselves in tune with industry trends and new challenges, and, ultimately enhancing the levels of service among hospitality practitioners.
Photo credits: HAPA (photos above) and author’s own (photos below)