Takuya Kishi: Hotel Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi

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Bio: Takuya Kishi is Hotel Manager of Four Seasons Hotel, Tokyo. Kishi has over 20 years career in the industry, including the past 18 years with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, having first joined the company as Assistant Front Office Manager at The Pierre in New York (formerly a Four Seasons hotel) in 1998.

How did you get into the industry?

One week in Seattle, Washington, in summer gave a life changing experience to an average Japanese high school student.  Since then, he studied English much harder and learned more about other cultures in the world than before.  This student was me.  During my college days, I spent one year in the States teaching Japanese and language to American students.  I backpacked Asia, North and South Americas.  While traveling, a hotel in each location I visited always gave me a place to relax, recharge, eat local foods and meet many people from all over the world.  I was very much fascinated by this special place, a hotel, and decided to become an hotelier to extend people a place to relax.             

Any emerging industry trends?

Smartphone has become one of the most indispensable tools in our industry, including mobile app, email, and social network.  This is true to our guests as well as us as hotel service providers.  With our FS Mobile App, you can place a wake-up call and order breakfast.  On the other hand, tourists want more hands on “experience” of local culture and tradition.  These “experiences” include sushi making, tea ceremony, kimono wearing, etc.  This high-tech and low-tech combination is particularly true in place like Tokyo, with high tech and traditions.           

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

If I may, I would like to talk only about Tokyo and Japan.  Since the day when Tokyo was chosen as the host city of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, new hotel developments in Japan have become very active.  The Japanese government is working very hard getting more in-bound travelers, targeting to reach 40,000,000 people in 2020.  I strongly believe the hotel industry in Tokyo and Japan continues to grow without any issues due to these factors.  We, Four Seasons as an internationally well-known branded hotel, have a big advantage and certainly we will benefit from these activities.  The industry as a whole has high potential in experiencing challenges, including over building and capacity, after the Olympics and Paralympics.     

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We, as a single branded luxury hotel company, will continue to be recognized as one of the most prestigious international luxury hotel groups in the world.  With two additional properties in Japan, one in Kyoto in 2016 and the second one in Tokyo in 2020, FS brand will be more visible in the Japan hotel market.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

I encounter difficult situations every day.  Some are guest issues and others are staff issues.  As long as I have control over it, I am confident that I can resolve any issues.  The most difficult situations I have encountered before were things I did not have any control over, i.e. lockout/strike in San Francisco in 2004, heavy rain lasting several days in resort in Malaysia.  What I learned from my experience – I must take care of the person right in front of me.  

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Ideal experience for a customer/client is highly personalized service, including consistent name usage, knowing guest preference and personal relationship/connection, where our guests do not need to say much.

How do you motivate others?

I do not think that I can make staff do things, but I strongly think that I can create an environment where they can do things.  The environment I want to create is where staff can think, come up with a solution and make decisions without being told and afraid of making mistakes.  If the decision was good, we celebrate.  If not, we learn from the mistake.  I think this is motivational environment where staff is motivated.  

Career advice to those in your industry?

You must be approachable and a great listener.  We are surrounded by people – guests and staff.