Nickname: Most cannot be printed but depending on various stages of life has been Wigs, Johnno, Tin Tin and now mostly Jo.
Early Life: Spent in UK, Hong Kong and Switzerland.
Family overseas: Mainly in US, UK, Austria and France. Two daughters aged 32 and 25 in New York and Vienna. Also an almost 2-year-old grandson in New York too.
Education: High school graduated in the UK (too many schools to mention as there were some discipline issues) and university in Switzerland.
Career: Only ever in various hospitality industry roles based in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand.
Current Role: Chief Executive Officer/Founder of the Absolute Hotel Services Group which has business in 15 countries (from Germany in the west to Indonesia in the east) but is headquartered in Bangkok. Besides paying the bills, my role is grow the business of the group and support/guide my team members in our seven offices worldwide.
Life High points to date:
• Daughters and grandson.
• Opening my own business.
• That I am still alive.
Low points: None really as I believe happiness is a personal choice thus I chose to be happy.
Best achievements to date:
• Being a Dad or trying to be.
• Opening my business and keeping it alive through the COVID 19 pandemic.
Missed opportunities/regrets: None. I believe regret is a useless emotion as it does not solve anything. Mistakes I view as learnings so will serve a positive purpose in the long run.
People met/admired and disliked:
• Most memorable person met in my career would be Lee Kwan Yew, the late prime minister of Singapore. We have an interesting conversation about the founding of Singapore.
• I wish I had never met former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating; he was rude to me.
• Professionally I admire Bill Heinecke for what he has achieved. I worked for his group for five years.
Scariest moment in my life: 1988 flight from Zurich to Singapore which hit an unannounced air pocket which caused the plane to drop for what seemed like an age.
Favorite hotels I have stayed in. Metropole Hanoi, Four Season St. Petersburg and The Langham London.
For our groups hotels/resorts I will say all of them!
Relax and exercise: In general, I do not get stressed out so nothing really, but I enjoy travelling, food/drink and history.
Exercise, I do it but hate it so it’s more about preventive maintenance. Run about 70km a week and some light weight and core exercises.
Favorite eating/drinking venues and getaways: Bangkok: Indigo, Lenzi, JP French. (it’s as much about the ambience as the product for me). Love Italian, French and Indian food the most.
Weekend getaway: U Pattaya for sure (yes, one of my hotels)
Long weekend getaway: Hong Kong or Hanoi.
Countries: Italy, Turkey and Russia.
Covid 19: On a personal level, as for everyone, it was tough not being able to travel to see family and friends spread around the world, but actually in Bangkok we were never very restricted, unlike some countries. Professionally it has been turbulent, especially in the hospitality/travel sectors but we used the opportunity to adapt/evolve for a sustainable future.
I believe it has been difficult to handle this pandemic globally as there was no real playbook for authorities to follow as a lot of decisions were either best guess or copy others. In general I would give Thailand a C+ on handling the pandemic to date and to give the grade some context I do not see any countries obtaining A grades and only a few B grades.
Thailand’s tourism status – my thoughts: Basically nobody knows when and how things will improve but I believe it will be more of a reset than a recovery. We should not want to go back to how it was but now is our chance to reset how it should be. No longer a short-term focus on numbers of arrivals yet focus on higher in country spends and the income.
Our old model was not sustainable as it focused on growing numbers of international arrivals. I think with this new reset we can achieve 2019 tourism receipts in Thailand by 2025 but with fewer arrivals. We expect India, Europe/UK and regional travelers to contribute the larger arrival numbers in the shorter term and China will re-start in 2023.
Changes to the hotel sector: For sure there is and must be. The pandemic has worked as an evolution accelerator forcing us to adapt/update, which we should have been doing even without a pandemic. More guest focus on hygiene, space, health and choices. Organizationally to be able to operate with fewer employees who are multi skilled for combined job functions allowing us to remunerate them better. thus being seen as a preferred sector for employment.
If I was Bangkok Governor I would….. Resign.
Next trips: For work will be Russia, Italy and Vietnam
For leisure US and Italy.
How’s the future: Bright and exciting both professionally and personally. I am an eternal optimist.