Archive for September, 2011
It’s been a few days since we’ve updated the blog. We’ve been busy doing follow ups with hotels, commencing background writing on the report (methodology, definitions, existing research summations), and doing some exploring of Singapore.
We have 19 survey respondents so far. Most of these respondents are those with a high interest in environmental issues and CSR so we’ve recognized that our results will lean towards environmental progressiveness rather than showing a true average of the industry in aggregate. All in all though the project is coming along well. It is a fair amount of work but our team morale is high and we firmly believe that our end result will be informative. We’re also learning a lot in the process – we’ve all become stronger in cold-calling, composing compelling e-mails and letters, and in our interview skills as we begin to meet with industry associations and best-practice leaders.
On Friday we attended an event held by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce here in Singapore. We were invited by Marlene Han, the President (and the aunt of our MBA colleague and friend Chelsea). The event was at Urban Fairways and provided a perfect chance to meet and network with fellow Canadians including David Sevigny, the High Commissioner for Canada to Singapore while working on our swing. We had a great time, and it was wonderful to meet Marlene in person as she has provided advice and contacts as we’ve pursued this project.
The weekend was great – checked out the nightlife at Clarke Quay, met up with some of Eva’s high school friends, ate some amazing Indian food and had snacks and a swim on Sunday with Eva’s Father.
|Team at Clarke Quay|
Back to work now…
Today, we made our way through the forests of Sentosa Island to Siloso Beach Resort, one of our survey respondents and industry best practice leaders who agreed to host our onsite visit and interview. One of Siloso’s CSR Team members gave us a tour of their facilities at the hotel. This Eco-resort was designed from the planning phase to be built in harmony with the surrounding environment, and to minimize any harmful effects once in operation.
Perhaps the most striking thing to me about this resort was the efforts made towards keeping the surrounding environment undisturbed. For example, the terrain had not been flattened to build the resort. Instead, the hotel structure was built on stilts to account for the natural slope of the terrain. Siloso also went to great lengths to preserve trees that had originally existed in the area. When we visited one of the villas, a tree was right in the middle of the room, coming up through the floor and extending through the ceiling! As far as a hotel experience can go, it really felt like you were living amongst the natural habitat. A relaxing soak in one of the villas’ outdoors jacuzzis, listening to the jungle sounds would really complete that experience. There was also a beautiful swimming pool, which was built where an old road used to be, which meant that less digging was required to construct it.
In terms of our progress for this project, we have currently received survey responses from 18 hotels in total, many of which represent key players in Singapore’s hotel industry. Initially, we were a bit disappointed in our seemingly low response rate. However, after speaking to the Singapore Hotel Association last week, we were reassured that getting responses from roughly 20 hotels in Singapore would be considered successful. This discussion motivated us to approach hotels even more aggressively and helped us re-adjust our focus to target the remaining hotels that are either large in size or are well-recognized for their environmental sustainability efforts. We are optimistic that we will be able to boost our response rate over the next couple of days and that we would be able to schedule at least a few more onsite visits and interviews with industry best practice leaders, in addition to the eco-tour that we have scheduled for at the Siloso Beach Resort tomorrow.
Shrimp at Japanese Burger place, MOS Burger
Teh Si at a traditional Singaporean breakfast cafe
Bread with kaya and butter at a traditional Singaporean breakfast place
Asian soft drinks at 7-eleven
Mee Goreng (fried noodles)
Various feast items! Fried rice, satay, kang kong, baby gai lan, sambal sting ray, cereal prawns, turnip cake omlette, sugar cane juice.
We’re having a great time so far. We’re starting our days by going to the gym followed by breakfast and then working until lunch. After lunch it’s back to work until dinner and then some exploring and debriefing.
We’ve been really using our networking skills to try to increase the response rate to our survey and to learn more about environmental CSR in Singapore. As such we’ve established contact already in-person with the Singapore Hotel’s Association, and are in e-mail contact with face-to-face meetings scheduled with Contact Singapore (our project supporter), the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Singapore Compact. All of our contacts have been invaluable thus far.
Some things I’ve learned so far in Singapore:
1. Use of Aunty/Uncle as a respectful term for persons who help you (ie. taxi drivers, hotel attendants etc) eg. Thank you Aunty
2. Cars have right of way as opposed to pedestrians when one is crossing the road
3. Durian (the fruit) is banned in many hotels due to the smell. There is actually a no durian sign in our hotel elevator
4. The MRT (subway system) is very civilized and may have some lessons for Vancouver. See the photo below for instructions as to where to stand while waiting for the train and what space to leave for passengers to exit. The full wall there is glass with doors that open when the train arrives.
|MRT – guidelines as to where to wait versus disembarking|
|By the river – you can see the Marina Bay Sands in the background.|
|Eva, Peter and Kathleen with Eva’s high school friend Eugene|
After our first night at the new hotel, Hotel Bencoolen, the three of us worked out at the hotel gym. The gym was a covered but outdoor gym, and so we were all sweating PROFUSELY! Luckily there was a small pool next to the gym so we were able to cool down afterwards.
After an energizing exercise session, we headed to a meeting with the Singapore Hotel Association. The meeting was incredibly helpful; two representatives gave us advice on our survey questions, answered questions about sustainability in Singapore and in the hospitality industry, as well as gave advice on how to increase our response rate. Overall, it was a very successful meeting, and we headed back to our hotel to work on some follow up emails and calls.
Soon we will be going out for dinner with one of my high school friends for some authentic Singaporean food!
After a fifteen hour flight, a run through Hong Kong airport, a suspected loss of the aforementioned guitar and a three hour flight we got here.
|In the HK airport after a 15 hour plane ride|
Last night we stayed at Klapsons The Boutique Hotel. The hotel is amazing, very design-y. The bathroom actually has a light colour changer for in the shower – so you can switch the colour to any colour of the rainbow.
We got up early this morning, about 6:30AM with the intention of re-setting our internal clocks (Singapore is 15 hours ahead of Vancouver) and combatting jet-lag. Today is a national holiday in Singapore, so many nationals are on vacation. As a result there is not too much work we can do today though we were successful in setting up a few meetings.
After a delicious breakfast at the hotel and some administrative work we headed out into the city – walking through Chinatown, along the river and through a park. It is 30 degrees here today and a bit grey though we’ve had some periods of sun. As a result our walk felt much longer than it would in Vancouver.
Today we’re moving to our home for the next twenty days – the Hotel Bencoolen. More later!