Vientiane Times, Laos / Asia News Network
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From washing dishes, to serving food even doing the laundry, no job was too small for Moukdao Sengaloune as she learned the hotel business from the inside out. While she currently serves as assistant managing director of the Champassak Grand Hotel, it was a long time before anyone knew she was the hotel owner's daughter.
Asia News Network
After studying hotel management abroad with the inspiration to develop her hotel in Laos, Moukdao Sengaloune is a young entrepreneur working to upgrade the Champassak Grand Hotel to become one of the famous hotels in the country.
At 30 years of age, Moukdao is currently serving as assistant managing director of the hotel and working to build its reputation in Pakxe town, Champassak province and throughout Laos.
She spoke to Vientiane Times in a recent interview.
"The hotel is our family hotel, so to help my father to develop the hotel I worked here during my holidays while I also studied for two years after we established the hotel in 2009," she said.
Moukdao explained that she fell in love with tourism after studying abroad. But the more she studied the more she felt like her knowledge was limited. So she decided to continue her studies by completing a postgraduate diploma in hospitality administration at Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland from 2010 to 2011.
Prior to that she studied at the Han Chiang High School of Malaysia from 1999 to 2003 before graduating from Monash College English Language School in Australia, where she studied from 2003 to 2005.
Then she continued her studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Business and Commerce Specializing in Marketing at Monash University in Australia, where she studied from 2006 to 2009.
"What I saw during my studies in Switzerland and other countries is that many people want to learn about our culture and our traditional style. Many different countries study together and so you have to adjust yourself to meet each other and to exchange culture as well as to know each other's minds," Moukdao said.
It was her ambition to use what she learned abroad for the further development of her hotel back in Laos by offering the best service to her guests and ensure their satisfaction.
Moukdao said that she didn't only study at schools in Thailand but she also practiced by working as an employee at a five-star hotel in Thailand. During her practice, nobody knew she was the daughter of a hotel owner in Laos, so she was employed washing dishes, washing clothes, serving food and other hospitality related tasks.
Then, when she first started working at the Champassak Grand Hotel she also didn't tell the other employees that she was the owner's daughter because she wanted to be friendly with them and for them to know that she was also one of their co-workers.
Moukdao said when the Champassak Grand Hotel was first built it was only seven stories but as it gained a reputation among guests it quickly grew to become one of the biggest and most famous hotels in southern Laos and served as the venue for a number of domestic and international meetings.
As it grew, the hotel was upgraded from five floors to 12 floors to cater to the increased demand. Now it has 215 rooms and nearly 200 employees.
"However, the management, facilities and hospitality also need to be improved to further upgrade the standard of the hotel and then this year we will also improve our rooms to meet the further standards, especially improving 32 suite rooms and other categories," Moukdao said.
The hotel is now rated as a four star hotel but there are plans to upgrade to a five star rating in the near future, she added "It is not easy to train employees on how to be good at hospitality. Most of them here don't have any experience working at hotels before."
"However we can still can train them through work experience and study tours at other hotels in the country and abroad, especially in Thailand."
Each year, Moukdao sends 10 staff to train at a five star hotel in Thailand which is very good at hospitality.
She said that via Vientiane Times she would like to thank the government for believing in her hotel and choosing it as the venue for the first Asean Eco Tourism Forum that will be held today.
Moukdao wished the forum every success and hoped all the guests would be impressed with the standard of the hospitality on offer.
Moukdao has two younger brothers and one older sister, who happens to own the biggest shopping mall in southern Laos, the Friendship Mall in Pakxe district.
Meanwhile, one brother just graduated from his studies in England and another brother is studying in Singapore.
Her father is an architect and also owns a construction company.
The Champassak Grand Hotel is ideally located on the edge of the Mekong River close to the Laos-Japan Friendship Bridge.
The hotel is situated in the town centre so it is easily accessible and guests are content to pay for a room that gives them a night or two of sweet dreams in comfortably furnished rooms.
It has 215 rooms in six different categories, with prices ranging from 437,000 kip to 1,725,000 kip (US$53 to US$210) a night.
The Champassak Grand Hotel is a 15-minute ride from Pakxe International Airport. Its many attractions include its easy access and friendly staff.