10 Years of Invision – Liv­ing Life in Full Color

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents -

Kevin Beau­vais is the Founder and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Invision Hos­pi­tal­ity, a man­age­ment and strat­egy provider for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. He and his wife Therese are well- known in the busi­ness and phil­an­thropic cir­cles in Bangkok. In his pre­vi­ous po­si­tion as Coun­try Man­ager for Mar­riott Thai­land and Gen­eral Man­ager of the JW Mar­riott Ho­tel Bangkok, Kevin was ac­tive in the Cham­ber and served as AMCHAM Board Pres­i­dent in 2002. He was also the ini­tia­tor and driv­ing force be­hind the es­tab­lish­ment of the AMCHAM Thai­land Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion ( now known as the AMCHAM Thai­land Foun­da­tion). Kevin is also Chair­man of the Board of Op­er­a­tion Smile Thai­land, a non- profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides free surg­eries to re­pair cleft lip, cleft palate and other fa­cial de­for­mi­ties for chil­dren through­out the coun­try. On the oc­ca­sion of Invision’s 10 year an­niver­sary, AMCHAM’S Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor, Deanna De­spodov, sat down with Kevin to dis­cuss the highs and lows of the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness, the power of phi­lan­thropy, and sus­tain­able busi­ness prac­tices.

You started your busi­ness when the world was on the cusp of the global eco­nomic cri­sis and are now cel­e­brat­ing Invision’s 10th an­niver­sary – that’s a pretty sig­nif­i­cant ac­com­plish­ment. What were some of the big­gest chal­lenges you had to over­come and what are some suc­cesses and vic­to­ries that pro­vided the im­pe­tus to per­se­vere? What mo­ti­vates you to keep go­ing in the face of ad­ver­sity?

Com­ing out of a big multi­na­tional to start our own busi­ness 10 years ago, I don’t think I an­tic­i­pated how dif­fer­ent it was go­ing to be. Work­ing for the big brands you’ve got all of the re­sources and the peo­ple, ev­ery­body swims in their own lane, ev­ery­body does their job, no­body takes a risk, but there’s not a lot of en­tre­pre­neur­ial na­ture in that. I think re­al­iz­ing we were an SME took a while, and in the tran­si­tion from a big multi­na­tional to an SME the big­gest chal­lenge was hu­man re­sources. Hav­ing the right team has al­ways been our strength, but in this new ven­ture the chal­lenge was find­ing the right peo­ple with­out know­ing what we needed ex­actly. So we went through a lot of tran­si­tion in the be­gin­ning to fig­ure out what we needed but to­day we have an amaz­ing team and a solid plat­form.

An­other chal­lenge we faced was try­ing to present the tenets of the brand with­out it be­ing tan­gi­ble. It’s dif­fi­cult when you are launch­ing a new brand, you can have the best Pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion of what your brand is go­ing to be like but un­til some­one can see and ex­pe­ri­ence it, it doesn’t seem real. To­day, our two brands, GLOW and MAI HOUSE, are real and solid and grow­ing in South­east Asia. In ad­di­tion to Thai­land we are present in Malaysia and Viet­nam and we have a num­ber of other projects in the pipe­line. At this stage we are ex­tremely care­ful about the part­ner­ships that we en­ter into. We seek part­ner­ships with like­minded, de­cent peo­ple be­cause not ev­ery­one is look­ing for a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship. We have to find peo­ple who have as much re­spect for us and our ex­pe­ri­ence as they have for their money and their in­vest­ment. Our goal is not to be big, our goal is to be good. I don’t care how many ho­tels we have as long as we have good part­ner­ships and good ho­tels.

I think what keeps us go­ing is the fun­da­men­tal be­lief that what we set out to do is still right and the drive to pro­vide some­thing that is unique and per­son­al­ized. When we de­vel­oped GLOW, our mid- tier brand, the tag line we came up with that is just as good to­day was “The Sur­prise of the Or­di­nary Done Well.” That sounds very sim­ple, but it is the sim­ple things that peo­ple re­ally want - like a com­fort­able bed and a great shower. These com­forts were miss­ing from other 3- star prod­ucts, and it was our goal to change that and pro­vide trav­el­ers with a bet­ter op­tion, but not a higher price.

What is next for Invision? How are you plan­ning to grow and evolve af­ter the first 10 years?

To­day we have 10 ho­tels open and six addi-

tional signed deals. Go­ing for­ward we want to be able to add two ho­tels a year to our port­fo­lio, which we think is sus­tain­able and rea­son­able in terms of the de­mand on our time. The next cou­ple of years will be very busy and by the end of 2019 we will prob­a­bly have eight GLOW ho­tels open, up from four to­day. The up­scale MAI HOUSE brand, which we just launched in Phuket ( Pa­tong Hill) a few months back, is also grow­ing. We have two un­der con­struc­tion in Viet­nam – in Ho Chi Min City and Hoi An Beach.

Myan­mar is a mar­ket we are keep­ing an eye on for the right op­por­tu­nity to present it­self. We are also start­ing to spend more time in Myan­mar with Op­er­a­tion Smile so it makes sense in terms of how we make use of our time ef­fi­ciently. I think In­done­sia and the Philip­pines are mar­kets we need to be in, but we will wait un­til we have the first three coun­tries sta­ble and then grow into those coun­tries as we find the right op­por­tu­ni­ties. Long term, I think I would die very happy if we had a re­ally strong re­gional brand.

The Bangkok busi­ness com­mu­nity knows you not only as a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man, but also as a no­table phi­lan­thropist. You were the founder of the AMCHAM Thai­land Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion and now for many years the Chair­man of Op­er­a­tion Smile Thai­land. Where does this drive to do good come from?

I think the char­i­ta­ble spirit was in­stilled in me from a very young age. Both Therese and I grew up in very small towns where it is just nat­u­ral to help your neigh­bors, to help your friends, to help your fam­ily. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Scout­ing pro­gram was a real bench­mark for me be­cause it gave me lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties at a very young age and I think that helped form who I am, which was fur­ther fa­cil­i­tated by the char­i­ta­ble busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment at Mar­riott. Ev­ery step of my life I have been im­mersed in en­vi­ron­ments that en­cour­aged help­ing oth­ers and I don’t think I know any dif­fer­ent, I think it has just been built into who I am. My goal was al­ways to re­tire early and then be­come an Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor at a char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion. In the end we chose a dif­fer­ent path and opened Invision. When we started our busi­ness, we com­mit­ted to ded­i­cat­ing 25% of our time to char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties and 75% on busi­ness, and we have mostly man­aged to keep that sched­ule. I be­lieve that there are points in our lives when we have time to do char­i­ta­ble work and there are points in our lives when we have money to be able to help char­i­ties, and when you are re­ally for­tu­nate you have both time and money. We have been in­volved with both the AMCHAM Thai­land Foun­da­tion and Op­er­a­tion Smile while still run­ning our busi­ness. In the past 10 years of in­volve­ment with Op­er­a­tion Smile we have gone from a cou­ple of mis­sions a year to do­ing a mis­sion al­most ev­ery month. We are now help­ing 1,200- 1,400 chil­dren a year and we have helped over 11,000 chil­dren since we started. Our char­i­ta­ble ef­forts give us more joy than any­thing we get out of the busi­ness. Ev­ery day I wake up, I know I’m go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in the life of a kid. Not ev­ery day I wake up I am sure I am go­ing to be suc­cess­ful in the ho­tel busi­ness.

With the AMCHAM Thai­land Foun­da­tion my goal was to put a strat­egy in place so we can stream­line the good deeds and in­ten­tions our mem­bers al­ready had and es­tab­lish a le­gal en­tity so we can pro­vide tax ben­e­fits and recog­ni­tion. This was one of the pri­or­i­ties for me as AMCHAM Board Pres­i­dent and it makes me proud to see how the ini­tia­tive has grown over the years. I am also proud that we have man­aged to mo­ti­vate oth­ers and get them in­volved with both the Foun­da­tion and Op­er­a­tion Smile. I think that mo­ti­vat­ing peo­ple to join your cause is one of the hall­marks of lead­er­ship.

Does your phil­an­thropic streak ex­tend to your busi­ness prac­tices as well? What are some ways in which you strive to do busi­ness re­spon­si­bly and in a sus­tain­able way?

As busi­ness peo­ple, we con­stantly have to ask our­selves: how are we go­ing to help our com­mu­ni­ties? But we need to be care­ful to re­spond to ac­tual, not per­ceived needs and do our re­search be­fore­hand. With ev­ery ho­tel I ever opened, I’ve thought that it would be a great idea to have so­lar pan­els on the roof, but that just wasn’t prac­ti­cal in the past. To­day, I am heart­ened by the ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy and the avail­abil­ity of stor­age so­lu­tions for so­lar power.

There are two com­po­nents when it comes to sus­tain­abil­ity: the peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment. When it comes to peo­ple, we need to take care of our em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies, and we also need to con­nect with the com­mu­ni­ties where we op­er­ate. On the phys­i­cal con­struc­tion/ build­ing side, there is re­cy­cling, reusing of ma­te­ri­als, build­ing on ex­ist­ing foot­prints, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and a lot of com­mon­sense stuff that peo­ple don’t do. So get­ting the en­trylevel of sus­tain­abil­ity on en­vi­ron­men­tal mat­ters is re­ally pretty sim­ple. We don’t sell our brands as green brands be­cause that’s green­wash­ing and over­stated, but I think we have to be re­spon­si­ble and do what we can. Maybe some day we can cre­ate a brand that is go­ing to save the world, but for now we want to op­er­ate in a re­spect­ful fash­ion, mak­ing sure all de­tails are be­ing fo­cused on and our im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment and our com­mu­ni­ties is as pos­i­tive as it can be.

Kevin and Therese Beau­vais ( right and left) with U. S. Am­bas­sador Glyn T. Davies and Mrs. Davies ( mid­dle)

Kevin Beau­vais ( sec­ond from right, stand­ing) at a school ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Thailand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.