“I believe I can fly… I believe I can touch the sky” listening to these lines written and composed by R. Kelly, these words, the lyrics itself is meant to hit you in a way you have never imagined. It is meant to motivate, inspire and make you believe that you and everybody else can achieve everything and anything as long as you put your heart and soul to it, willing to go the extra mile.
This is exactly how I felt when I had the opportunity to speak to Danelle Ruth Palang, Director of Marketing and Communications of Dusit Thani, Dubai. Joining the iconic five-star luxury hotel in 2013, Danelle successfully launched four food and beverage outlets such as View, 24th St., Another St. and relaunching Benjarong in 2017-2020, to spectacularly positioning a variety of beverage and food outlets of the majestic Thai hotel, Danelle Ruth Palang is definitely someone who believes she can not only reach, but effortlessly touch the sky.
What were some of the roadblocks you had faced before making your mark as a prominent leader in the hospitality industry?
I don’t necessarily consider this as a roadblock but more of a never-ending challenge I have faced and continue to face which is – competing against myself. I always remind myself that I am only as good as my last performance. Setting the bar high, and beating it every time is a challenge I take on every day.
What motivated you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry?
I have always wanted to travel when I was younger but being in hospitality allowed me to immerse in different cultures of the world without having the need to travel.
And although it gave me a better appreciation of different cultures, it also honed me to interact with human beings not for their race nor gender but for their individuality.
Can you tell us about your first job in the hospitality industry? How challenging was it and what has it taught you?
It was in 2005 when I first joined the hospitality industry as Marketing Executive, the Heritage Hotel, under the Millennium and Copthorne Brand. Putting guests’ needs first was one of my guiding principles.
Describe your leadership style. What, according to you, makes a true leader?
I am first a servant, a team player before I am a leader. This holds especially true after going through the pandemic. If I may share, here are some of the positives that come out of me as a leader: Flexibility and Resilience, Cooperation and Clear Communication, and Accountability.
What makes Dusit Thani unique? How does it continue to remain at the top and what can other hotels learn from this perspective in order to move forward?
With a heartfelt belief and commitment to Thai hospitality, high-style surroundings and discreet, personalised service, we at Dusit Thani Dubai offer guests a uniquely special experience, all united by service that is warm, attentive and above all, gracious.
It is also our commitment to provide a unique experience that enlivens the spirit no matter what the journey, hence the continuous innovation in our offerings, product and customer journey.
How does social media play an important role in order to attract more customers?
Online Reputation Management plays an integral part in strengthening our online presence. One of the most powerful platforms is TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel platform.
As of May 2021, Dusit Thani Dubai is now 29 out of 782 hotels in Dubai in TripAdvisor, from last year’s 65.
How has the pandemic affected the business and the hospitality industry as a whole? Can you highlight the difficulties you and the team had faced and what measures were taken in overcoming them?
COVID-19 has significantly impacted our industry, and there is no doubt that health, safety and security have taken precedence over any other factor when customers are ready to book hotels again. But while the health and safety of our guests will always be our top priority, to truly inspire confidence and drive demand in this difficult time, we recognize we must go far beyond basic measures for enhanced cleanliness and physical distancing. Amidst all these new distancing measures, we do ensure that we do not detract from the high levels of gracious service for which we are renowned.
What advice would you have to offer to someone who has the desire to achieve a similar benchmark like you have, in the hospitality business?
It is about the passion and commitment to exceed expectations by genuinely and attentively anticipating needs of guests, management, owners and stakeholders; spending extra-long hours and even holidays at work when necessary, paying attention to every detail, taking ownership and pushing one’s limits.