In this issue, we focus on Thila Munusamy, the Director of Sales & Marketing for LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort.
My affinity with the hospitality industry began straight after school and in the public relations function with Nikko Hotel Kuala Lumpur (now Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur). I climbed the ladder in the same discipline with Hyatt Regency Saujana, Subang, and then on to become a part of the pre-opening team for the Pan Pacific Hotel KLIA, where excitement was about starting the hotel from scratch – even while I was heavy with my first son! This was when I realised my potential and the love for PR and Marketing role. I would brave distances, travelling daily for 5 hours between work and home and still being passionate about it.
My foray into the world of theme parks followed after 10 years in the hotel industry, with Sunway Lagoon Theme Park which proved to be an even more challenging but exciting learning experience for me. Armed with that experience, I joined LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort as its Director of Sales & Marketing in 2012.
What inspired you to enter the hotel industry?
I was inspired by my mother, who belonged to the earlier generation of hoteliers. At that time, women were the minority and she was made of very strong ‘stuff’, with an independent streak that stood her place among men.
You can say I grew up in the hotels with her, and she inspired me so much that I once told her that I would “work in your Hotel and become your Manager”. I used to observe the environment, the people working in the hotel and you can say it was a dream come true when I landed my first job with the hotel straight after school, and I have not looked back since.
What are your strengths?
Although it was a tough start, I had good mentors where I learnt attention to detail, organising skills and at the same time, honed the most difficult skill in our industry i.e. being people-oriented. In our line, being in touch with people means being effective in communication and building long-term and even life-long relationships with them.
I also learnt leadership and with it, developing people and letting them grow as I had been when I was a novice in the industry.
What made you feel that being a hotelier is the right job for you?
There is no one specific incident but the whole journey made me think that I wouldn’t have progressed as much if I were in some other line. Till today I’m not bored with my job and there is always something new to look forward to on a daily basis.
Being a marketer, the task is not monotonous. We are in control and everyday it is about making our jobs more interesting and exciting, and in different creative ways. Equally important is to be alert and to be quick in adapting to the changing trends, keeping ourselves up to date at all times.
What do you see as the future for a career in hospitality, and what can you do to ensure there is a way forward for those wanting to venture into the industry?
Definitely very bright as new tourist spots, theme parks and shopping malls are on the rise in Malaysia and particularly in the Iskandar Region. Both government and private tourist/leisure organisations are doing much more to attract more domestic and international tourist arrivals into the country and therefore, accommodation will be in high demand.
Further, the trend of overnight stay is moving from simply a place to sleep to offering overall memorable experience that complement and enhance travel adventures.
Lots of talents are required to deliver these memorable moments and people are at the heart of hospitality. Therefore, being with LEGOLAND which is in the business of creating memorable and fun experience for families with kids is the way forward for us where we need a combination of both fresh and experienced talents coming together to join forces to make the theme park even more successful than what it already is. Being an international brand, we have a ready and structured training and on-boarding programmes in the form of on-the-job as well as classroom sessions.
Those wanting to join us need to have an open mind, with the right positive mind set; eagerness and passion especially in making our VIP customers (the kids) happy.
What are the opportunities open to them within your own hotel?
There are many opportunities available in both Administration and Operation roles within the Theme Park, Water Park and our fully themed Hotel. We are also constantly adding new attractions and rides to keep the park always evolving, so new dynamic talents are always welcome.
LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort is the first such international brand and themed hotel in this region and it acts as a catalyst to give families a reason to venture into this area. Thus, only the right talents will ensure its continuous growth and the sustainability of the Iskandar region.
What are your personal words of encouragement for new entrants into the industry?
Don’t be afraid to do more and don’t just look at dollars and cents. Be open and try to learn as much as possible especially when you are making a fresh entry. If you are lucky to be landed with the right mentor at the start of your journey, then it is a bonus. If not, it is up to you to be strong and persevere.
Learning from scratch may be difficult but it will be rewarding at the end.
Particularly for ladies (and citing my mother’s example); build a career for yourselves, learn to be independent and do not give up easily in the face of challenges. Many of us have succeeded and you can too.
At LEGOLAND, we can assure you that it is the ONLY place where your work is flavoured with fun!