12 Jan 2015

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Winning Against All Odds

Winning Against All Odds


19 Oct 2011- Honest, sincere, and caring – these are traits which you would commonly associate with hospitality-related services. You would also use the same words to describe the man behind one of the most successful companies in the hospitality industry, Mr Choe Peng Sum, Chief Executive Officer of Frasers Hospitality Private Limited.

Despite a slight drizzle, an estimated crowd of 130 people came to hear Mr Choe’s personal journey building the Frasers brand. Among the audience were those who had previously worked under Mr Choe, and had made time to support their ex-boss.

Going Against the Odds

Indeed, the road to success is never straight. Mr Choe recalled the mountain of uncertainties which was present right from the beginning. The market was saturated, yet new hotels and serviced apartments were mushrooming; it would be a tall order to make a breakthrough. Then in 1997, Asia was struck by the financial crisis. Economies were sluggish, and consumers were tightening their purse strings.  In addition, there were pressures from the board to make the business work. The obstacles were tremendous. In 1998, Frasers Hospitality was launched. Against all odds, its flagship properties, Frasers Suites and Frasers Place Singapore achieved high occupancy rates. The business expanded and new properties were secured in Seoul, Manila, Shenzhen, Kensington and other cities worldwide.

The Keys to Success: Respect and Honesty

For Mr Choe, the basic practice of respect starts from the workplace. He emphasised the need to treat each staff with respect, the way you would want to be treated. In turn, his staff stood by him even in times of difficulties. Visibly touched, Mr Choe recounted how they persisted in their work, and refused to abandon their posts during the SARS crisis in 2003. A lady in the audience asked how companies, which were much smaller in size than Frasers Hospitality, could deal with bureaucracy when doing business in China. Mr Choe’s answer was straightforward and honest. He said that no matter the size of the company, the same set of challenges would exist. He shared his own experience at having successfully obtained approval from the Chinese Government to operate in China by following his own beliefs.

Mr Choe (left) mingling with fellow Singaporeans after the event.


The talk rounded off with a dinner reception for guests to mingle and network. Endless chatter filled the ballroom as fellow Singaporeans caught up with each other over local delights, such as Hainanese chicken rice and satay. Many who approached Mr Choe were armed with more questions, while some simply wanted to greet an old friend they had not met in years. Judging by the enthusiastic response from the crowd, it was easy to see that Mr Choe exemplified the attractive characteristics that have made Frasers Hospitality such a success.
By Magdeline Lee


Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.