In a recent insightful conversation with Pong Boripat Louichareon, the Managing Director of Standard Hotels International, we delved into various aspects of the company’s operation, its strategic vision, and the unique challenges it has faced during its expansion.
Managing the Transition: From Bangkok to Hua Hin
The opening of The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon, and The Standard, Hua Hin, posed significant challenges around the period of 2020, mainly influenced by the global events impacting all aspects of operation, including the supply chain. However, swift, informed decisions helped navigate the complexities. “We had to be nimble and move fast,” Boripat said.
An initial challenge was raising brand awareness, especially as The Standard, Hua Hin opened first. The demographics have since shifted from 40-50% Thai patrons to less than 10% today, supplemented by growing numbers of Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese visitors.
Aesthetics and Experience
Boripat underscores that The Standard’s appeal goes beyond design—it’s a blend of art, music, fashion, culinary delights, and nightlife. With standalone properties like Mott32, the strength of the brand lies in its ability to offer an immersive experience. Art and music curate the ambiance, and a whopping 75% of the turnover comes from Food & Beverages, even in 150-room establishments.
Global Vision for Sansiri
As the President of Sansiri (US), Inc., Boripat’s vision encompasses global growth, from established cities to emerging ones, in addition to launching branded residences. He foresees a more individual, friendly service style that eliminates the need for conventional luxury services like butler service.
“We’re about to launch two other [branded residences] in Thailand,” Boripat added, citing that their previously launched residences in Lisbon and Miami are already 75% sold out.
Navigating Cross-Cultural Business Landscapes
Managing teams and doing business in the United States compared to Thailand, Boripat emphasizes readiness for global growth. With 60% of his time spent in New York and the rest in Bangkok, his leadership style has adapted to managing operations, business, and independent tasks across different environments.
The Standard is known for blending the ‘standard’ of hospitality with Thai hospitality, resulting in a unique blend of service, guest experience, and company culture.
The Evolving Hospitality Industry
The hospitality industry has evolved significantly over the past few years, particularly with the rise of technology and changing customer preferences. According to Boripat, adapting like consultants and being generalists have helped keep their properties at the forefront of this transformation.
The Sansiri-Standard Partnership
Sansiri’s investment in The Standard was driven by several factors. Apart from monetary benefits, the focus was on gaining synergies, learning, and extracting value from the investments. This bold move has led to tangible projects like The Standard Residences.
The partnership with Sansiri is mutually beneficial: Sansiri brings construction expertise, while The Standard brings its brand and operational knowledge.
Boripat remains optimistic about further expansion in Asia, fueled by the rising influence of Asian culture in global fashion trends. “Asian culture is becoming a thing, so we want to help lead that,” he stated.
Despite operational challenges, the team remains poised for expansion, with plans for two more brands: The Peri Hotel and The Bunkhouse Hotel. As flights continue to be a bottleneck, Boripat sees potential in tapping into the Asian and European markets, hinting at ambitious plans to conquer Asia and, possibly, the world.