In Conversation with… Philipp John Economou

We get the lowdown on the Area General Manager KSA East & Bahrain and General Manager InterContinental Regency Bahrain

Why did you choose the hospitality industry?
Where do I start, in the hospitality world no two days are alike. You will meet new people and new challenges each day and the chances of a hospitality job becoming mundane are very rare. I grew up in a hotelier family and from a young age, I already knew that I wanted to work in the hotel industry. Also because I love the interaction I get from people; it is something that makes me happy as I am an extrovert and I always look forward to meeting new faces from different cultures and backgrounds. The idea of having the opportunity to create an experience for a guest or a colleague fascinates. What makes this industry so exciting is the way digital technology is transforming how we choose, buy – then share – our travel and hospitality experiences.

What does being an area GM entail, is there a lot of crossover between the properties you are responsible for?
If I were to put it down in a sentence, it would be to plan, coordinate and manage all business operations to achieve corporate goals. One of the main objectives would be sustaining current market position and growing market share for IHG hotels in my region. I want to ensure all the seven hotels (five in KSA Eastern Province and two in Bahrain) are aligned with the corporate goals and initiatives. I would love to incorporate the culture of supporting sister hotels by sharing best practices, sharing leads and thus increasing purchasing power. This comes at a very interesting time and I am excited to understand the KSA market and utilise the benefits of cross selling properties across the borders. I am looking forward to meeting the teams and working on a cohesive culture.

What is your management style, is there one core element you would say is crucial for success?
We need to be bold, we need to simplify things and we need to operate with speed. To operate at the pace required today, gaining clarity about the role and purpose of leadership is vital. We also need to have principles to guide us. In times of uncertainty, making decisions and moving forward is a great way to remove fear and anxiety. Having a set of principles helps to remind us what we should be doing. Whilst the role of a leader is to create a high-performance environment where success is inevitable, operating effectively in a digital world is really about people. One of my main focuses is development. Give colleagues the space to grow, permission to fail and opportunity to shine. Leadership is all about energy, frequency, resonance, and people. Therefore, the purpose of leadership is to awaken possibility in people to deliver extraordinary results.

What do you like to do when you get time off (if ever)?
I am really passionate about boxing and the other sport I enjoy is kite surfing, though I don’t do it as often. One of the main reasons I got into these activities was setting a goal for myself to learn something new and start pushing boundaries. It helps with the adoption of growth mind set and allows you to stay motivated and enjoy the process of learning something new. If you don’t have a summer sport, seriously take up kitesurfing. It’s just so much fun, I absolutely love it.

If you weren’t a hotel GM, what would you be?
Probably a pilot. I always had a fascination with travelling the world, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. I guess, in a way, I am accomplishing all of that now, being an hotelier! ✤