CEO at Hakuba Hotel Group
Co-Owner & Director, Stars'n Cacio
Marcus Bauder has worked in the hospitality industry for all of his working life. Working in a variety of different hotels all around the globe. He worked at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Singapore as Resident Manager, before moving to Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok as Hotel Manager. Nowadays, Marcus is the CEO of Hakuba Hotel Group, a young and dynamic international team offering the largest portfolio of boutique hotels and luxury chalets in prime locations throughout Hakuba valley, Asia's largest alpine ski resort.
What's the biggest challenge you encountered while rising in this industry? How did you overcome it?
There are always lots of challenges that make our industry so exciting. One that stood out and became more and more apparent over the years is the extreme shortage of talent which wasn't such a major issue in the first decade of this century. But it may well be the greatest challenge we face today. With the incredible growth of our industry came the struggle to find and retain the best people. My background is Food & Beverage, and there are few departments where it was more challenging to find and keep great team members over the years. This problem really accompanied me all the way until I became General Manager.
While it's difficult to overcome this, I made it a point to always focus on being the best possible leader I could be. I found it always most important to lead by example, share any knowledge I have, empower, respect all team members regardless of their position, and, most importantly, walk the talk. I felt that this helped a lot in motivating team members, plus it keeps the best people and builds a reputation encouraging others to join the team.
People are proud to work for a great brand like Mandarin Oriental, but they also work for and follow individuals in the organization. Good leadership is vital, and leaders who stand out will attract and retain great talent. I can't say that I excelled at this all the time, but it certainly was an important guiding principle for me and still is today.
What advice would you give to other Forever Fans who are still growing their careers?
My advice is to focus on communication skills as I find this to be the single most important skill to make or fail in our business. After all, we're in a people's business, which will not change even with the technological advancement we are experiencing. Guests won't be replaced by robots any time soon, and it's important to focus on the right communication skills in person or through digital channels. From my experience, a lot of complaints or problems, but also issues with colleagues, are caused by miscommunication or a lack of communication. If you focus on getting this part right, everything will become a lot smoother. From interactions with colleagues to guest satisfaction, everything will just magically fall into place when things are communicated in the right way, at the right time and to the right person.
In this regard, I also suggest practising social skills, even and especially in times of COVID-19, while wearing masks and having less in-person contact. It's surprising how many people struggle with small talk or are too shy to approach people. I had this problem too and still have, but I tried to work on it over time and feel more confident today.
What is your most memorable career moment with Mandarin Oriental?
I had the absolute privilege of working at 'La Grande Dame' in Bangkok with a fantastic team and every moment was memorable. If I have to pick moments that really stick, then those when I met our industry's many legends who served at this institution for decades. Talking to colleagues like Khun Ankara or Chef Norbert, among others, always made me realize that this beautiful property's reputation is built on people. People who have dedicated their entire lives to the hotel and their pride, class, attitude and devotion put the hotel right at the top of the world's best. The magic that every guest feels when stepping foot into the hotel is the magic they instilled. That magic remains very much alive because even generations of 'new' managers like myself were drawn into the spell. Very touching moments that I will cherish forever.