A passion to serve

Do you want fresh milk and cookies delivered to your room every evening? Or desire a special dish that is not on the hotel's menu? According to David Pardo de Ayala, Discovery Suites resident manager, "no" is not in their dictionary, meaning no request is too difficult or impossible for the Discovery Suites team to handle. Owned and managed by the Discovery Leisure Company Inc (TDLCI), Discovery Suites' brand of service is also distinctively Filipino, which he considers as better than "world-class".
Jose "Jun" Parreno, one of the pioneers of Discovery Suites, says that providing the best of Filipino hospitality has always been the company's agenda. Now, as COO of TDLCI, Jun proudly looks back on how much the Discovery hotel brand has achieved through the years.

Group Director of Human Resource and Organizational Development, Rose Bello shares that it has always been a conscious effort for them to provide something different from the other hotels out there. "We said we would create our own five-star service standards and our culture would be people-centered, and I think guests actually feel this." She cites the hotel's "open house" event 10 years ago as a good example wherein guests from the Asian Development Bank came over for an ocular inspection of the hotel and were pleasantly surprised - and amused with how the Discovery Suites team welcomed them.

"We welcomed them with a song and dance number in our lobby, took them to the suites, poured champagne, we set up a 'live showroom' to offer a different perspective as opposed to the typical type of hotels. I think part of our success from our early days until now is that our service did not just match the hardware, we just went 'up there'. We said that we won't just go up to the next level of the guests' expectations, we want to exceed it to the point that they're saying 'Unbelievable'."
David is one member of the team who's definitely had his fair share of unique requests. Apart from successfully manning the hotel's 22 Prime (awarded Best Steakhouse in Metro Manila last year), when he was still Corporate Chef, he's also gone out of his way to give his guests whatever they ask for - even if it's not on the menu. But while it's definitely a big challenge on his part, David is happy to share that the guests are always appreciative for the extra effort that they put into serving them.

But given that this is Discovery Suites, there are times when guests don't even have to ask - as each staff member has been trained to make the effort to be attuned with providing excellence personalized service. From automatically providing Play station units for the kids of long-staying guests to company nurses keeping a medical record of each guests - Discovery Suites has everything covered.

Housekeeping consultant Rose Valencia can attest to Discovery Suites' unique brand of service and training saying, "I really have to adapt myself to the kind of service that Discovery Suites has promoted to the guest, good service and going the extra mile. I have to know all the guests who are staying with us even through just their room number. I am supposed to know who the guests in that room is, I also have to touch base with them, introduce myself , and ask them what their presences are, and I have to deliver accordingly. Checking the guests arriving during the day and seeing to it that everything is spic and span."

The Discovery Suites family
To be a part of Discovery Suites team, having a "can-do attitude" is a definite must. If you claim to have a talent for dancing, Rose says "be prepare to show it to us". As they are known to stage creative sales promotions and other out-of-the-box tactics when it comes to marketing promotions or just servicing to their guests, every member of their staff should be able to participate and deliver to the best of their abilities.

In return, Discovery Suites ensures that each member of the team is treated like family. "We operate on the theory that ' happy employees make happy customers make happy owners' so it's a very good cycle," shares Rose.

A testament to this claim is the company's award for Best Employer in Asia back in 2003. Besting out of 500 to 600 companies in the region , Discovery Suites ended up competing alongside the likes of The Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, and FedEx. "Best employers mean that we do take care of our people, it's not an award that we asked for, the people actually voted for us," says David.

One good example of how well Discovery Suites treats its treasured employees is the story of Frank Manuel , a former security guard turned doorman , leukemia survivor, and Mabuhay awardee. In spite of starting out as a security guard of the hotel , Frank always took the initiative to ask guests how they were and made sure that he's able to help them in whatever war he can. Eventually, guests started asking for the friendly security guard whenever they needed assistance. Having appreciated Frank's sincere efforts to be a good member of the Discovery Suites family in spite of being from an agency, the management asked him to formally become a part of the team as a doorman - a task that Frank fully enjoys even after being afflicted with leukemia in 2007. During this challenging time in his life, Frank was immensely touched to find the whole Discovery Suites team to be supporting him all the way. From giving him encouragement and moral support down to shouldering his medical expenses as he sought treatment for his illness - the Discovery Suites family never left Frank. Shortly after recovering from leukemia, Frank proved his loyalty and dedication to his job by eagerly reporting back to work. He even turned down a job offer from Bobby for a "lighter task" as he says that being a doorman is what he really wants to do. Frank shares that after winning the prestigious Mabuhay Award for Rank and File Employee of the Year given by the Association of Human Resources Managers in the Hospitality Industry (AHRM), he actually received a job offer from a rival hotel, but turned it down, saying that he's already happy working at Discovery Suites and it's where he also plans to stay.

Always exceeding guest's expectations
Group Director Sales and Marketing Carmela Bocanegra shares that the company has a very optimistic outlook. So to match the hotel's growing market in the Ortigas area, they've already taken the initiative to ensure the guests will have something exciting to look forward to during their stay at Discovery Suites. They've already started with renovations for the hotel, which, according to Director of Marketing Communications, Marc dela Cruz, should be done by the end of the year. Marc describes the so-called refurbishments will leave everything in the hotel to be totally new and exude a more contemporary look "but hopefully still very homey." It's also interesting to note that Discovery Suites is also the first Filipino hotel group to have a Director of Style through Ferdi Salvador, who works on the hotel's aesthetics - most especially, Discovery Suites' latest service which is developing "couture banquets." Again, this stems from the company's desire to always give its guests something great to look forward to with their Discovery Suites experience. "We want our guests to feel the value of their investments, that extra oomph, wherein they'd want to come back for more...it's all about the experience," says Ferdi.

Director of Operations, Belle Ching, gives a more detailed account of the Discovery Suites experience, "we take pride in personalizing our service. We make it a point that at least one Operations Manager meets with the guest early during his stay. And the guest relations team is tasked to have some form of entertainment' (i.e. scheduling dinners, lunches, or organizing city tours etc) for our LSGs (long stay guests)."
"These are just a few of the tools we employ to mine information about guests' preferences."

The day after 'entertainment' or meeting the guests, they are usually pleasantly surprised that their favorite book, favorite food, preferred newspaper is setup in their room (which they just mentioned in passing). I remember seeing a guest sitting by his lonesome at the 22nd floor, having some coffee and answering a Sudoku puzzle. The next day, we sent him a big Sudoku puzzle book and he was very, very happy," shares Belle.

Based on their hospitality study, Belle says that a guests' stay is strongly influenced by his arrival and breakfast experience. Which is why starting from breakfast, they already have a good crew that services the needs of each guest. He cites, a restaurant server named "Honee" as a definite standout among their crew as she is able to remember every little detail - from how a particular guest prefers his coffee, which newspaper he reads etc. Sherwin's team have also made the extra effort of adding "special touches" to how they service their long staying guests through personalized coffee mugs and specialty jams that have been concocted basked on each guests' preference.

"Discovery Suites has proved, not only its resiliency through tough times, but also its ability to successfully develop and operate various facets of the hospitality business, including urban properties, beach resorts and bed and breakfast operations," says Jun. Asked where he envisions Discovery Suites and the Discovery brand in the future, Ruben Tiu, President of TDLCI foresees that the next decade will see the brand carrying on with innovative approaches to hospitality while sustaining growth and investing in the professional growth of its people. "We will strive to maintain our leadership position and showcase Philippine hospitality at its best," he concludes.
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