In the fast-paced world of hospitality, effective management is crucial for the success of any organization. While technology plays an important role, human interactions remain key, especially in high-end hotels like New World Saigon Hotel. The relationships established between guests, employees, and stakeholders directly impact the hotel’s bottom line. As the General Manager, Niklas Wagner, understands the significance of fostering a positive environment where these relationships can flourish and yield tangible results.
Leading a large team, Niklas has learned that embracing certain values and principles significantly impacts productivity, creativity, and team satisfaction. He places great emphasis on allowing employees to learn from their mistakes, viewing them as valuable learning opportunities rather than grounds for punishment. By creating a safe space for open dialogue about lessons learned, the team grows collectively, enhancing problem-solving abilities.
Interviewing Niklas Wagner provided valuable insights into how fostering a culture of growth and collaboration can drive a hospitality organization's success. As the General Manager of New World Saigon Hotel, his leadership embodies the power of genuineness and the positive impact of embracing a lighthearted and supportive work environment.
How would you describe your management style in three words?
Authentic. Collaborative. Goal-Driven.
What is your morning routine like, and how does it change when you’re in a rush?
I usually get up at 4-4:30 am. The first thing I do is go for a walk. During that walk, I often reflect on the days ahead and practice gratitude. Afterward, I meditate and often exercise before getting into some reading and writing. I start my workday around 7:30 by focusing on tasks ahead to make the best of the day. Usually, I define 2-3 critical tasks to be completed by the end of the day to set myself up for a productive outcome.
What qualities do you look for in the people you surround yourself with?
I value honesty, integrity, and a positive attitude. I seek individuals who are passionate about their work, open to learning and growth, and willing to collaborate as part of a team.
How do you give and receive feedback like a pro?
I provide feedback in a constructive and specific manner, focusing on the behavior or action rather than the person. I encourage open and honest conversations and actively listen to understand perspectives. When receiving feedback, I remain receptive and view it as an opportunity to improve.
Who has had the most significant influence on your career, and how have they shaped your management approach?
There have been many individuals who made an impact. I believe that identifying professional role models and surrounding yourself with people who outperform you can be transformative, provided you seize the chance to learn and sometimes emulate their greatness. Though not mentioning them by name, 2-3 exceptional leaders early in my career at Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and a few more during my time with Hyatt greatly impacted my work style today.
On a personal level, my uncle, who ran his own business, tremendously influenced who I am today due to his deep care for his team, earning him incredible loyalty in return.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in a management position?
Embrace authenticity, be open to learning from mistakes, and lead by example. Cultivate a culture of growth, collaboration, and fun in the workplace.
How do you act in the face of ultra-tight deadlines?
For some unknown reason, I thrive in those situations. I tend to energize the team, define tasks quickly, and execute what's needed. My challenge in the past has been staying productive when there are fewer tasks to do. However, I have learned to find plenty of projects to explore and implement, driving the business forward.
How frequently do you reflect on and prioritize long-term goals in your role as a General Manager?
I regularly set aside time for reflection and goal prioritization. This helps me stay focused on the bigger picture while ensuring short-term actions align with long-term objectives.
How do you cultivate an atmosphere at New World Hotel Saigon that leaves an indelible impression on guests?
Crafting an extraordinary guest experience is an art. We prioritize personalized guest interactions, ensuring every guest feels valued and special. Attention to detail, anticipating their needs, and going the extra mile creates an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality that leaves a lasting impression.
How do you stay at the forefront of trends and technologies?
I encourage continuous learning and development among the team. Embracing technology and innovative solutions enables us to enhance guest experiences and stay competitive in the market. In the early mornings, I conduct a lot of research, tune into relevant podcasts, and challenge my team to embrace the new.
As we are in a somewhat “old school” and “tech agnostic” industry, I often look towards non-hospitality companies to see how they are innovating and identify strategies that might work for us.
What steps do you take to foster a culture of teamwork and collaboration among your dedicated staff members at New World Hotel Saigon?
Building a cohesive and collaborative team is essential for success. I emphasize the value of teamwork and create opportunities for team-building activities. Encouraging open communication, recognizing and celebrating achievements, and providing a supportive work environment foster collaboration and unity among the staff.
How do you differentiate New World Hotel Saigon from other hotels in the area?
We differentiate ourselves through our commitment to providing exceptional guest experiences with a dedicated team that embodies our core values. Our authentic and innovative approach sets us apart, making us the preferred choice for business travelers and MICE groups, in particular. While we may sometimes lack brand recognition compared to big chains, we more than makeup for it through our relationship-oriented hospitality approach. This often becomes the crucial difference maker that secures business over our competitors.