The four star International on the Water Hotel was created by established hoteliers with a boutique perspective in mind. It’s only been open on the Perth riverbanks for a short time following its soft opening in late 2014. Nevertheless, those responsible for running the hotel have been working tirelessly to build a unique identity for it. Much of the managerial legwork has been completed by General Manager Helen Hong, who has worked at the hotel intermittently since 2014. She must be doing something right – the Hotel has already been nominated for awards for its hospitality, and business is on the up and up.
“We set a goal that we wanted to be the most popular choice for people coming to Perth to have events,” explains Helen. Indeed the hotel accommodates this goal with scenic views, large events areas and all the mods and cons for its guests. The hotel nestles contentedly on Perth’s wonderfully winding Swan River. There are many facilities including a gym and a pool. The huge restaurant caters for around 350 people while the riverfront alfresco area can happily accommodate 250 as can, crucially, the carpark.
“Parking is actually more important than you realise,” exclaims Helen, “People love it when they find out we have this much parking here, it provides them with a huge relief as it is one less problem for them to handle during their stressful event planning.”
The hotel’s main building comes with a long history, with elements of it dating as far back as even the 1800s, when it was known as the Belmont Hotel. The ten room variations within the Hotel brim with character and individuality. In fact, throughout the hotel guests are struck with a careful balance of modern décor on a historical site giving visitors that crisp, stylish Ascot welcome.
Down to business
With one of the hotel’s main customer bases being business customers, Helen candidly describes what they have done to attract this crowd and to keep them coming back. She explains that being a corporate style hotel in every sense, they do get a lot of corporate professionals there. Interestingly enough, Helen has found that the most important thing for visiting professionals is fast and reliable wi-fi.
“We make sure that we are always aware of guests needs and ensure that we are able to cater for them. One of these ways is free wi-fi throughout the entire establishment. They expect coverage to be perfect, that’s the mind of the market.
“Guests’ needs has become increasingly more modernised and demanding. Everything is becoming more and more technology based. We do not have guest forms in rooms, instead they fill them out on their mobile devices. We have movies on demand and electronic welcoming systems. It is these types of things that make the hotel more convenient and user friendly. Of course, there is a cost to the hotel, but it is these little touches that keep people coming back.”
The hotel is located a touch past the main inner city and only eight minutes away from the International Airport, yet close enough for visitors to use as a base. It is fast gaining a sort of idyllic yet convenient reputation. Close enough to the concrete jungle yet far enough removed to feel like a different world away. The views are abundant, as is the tranquillity.
Facilities and feedback
In the tight ship that Helen maintains, she mentions three values she seems to pride in above all else; cleanliness, customers, and constant development.
“We try our best to make the place spotless, that is what customer want. When they dine in the restaurant, we want that price to be reasonable for them. We want them to stay here and be able to enjoy a nice meal without feeling like they are racking up five star prices.”
Every three months or so, the hotel gives out customer feedback forms and acts on the responses immediately. This is where the concept of constant development is most strong:
“For me, as a general manager, I believe that standards are never good enough and that there is always room for improvement. We always carry out staff training that is focused on customer service. These training sessions remind our staff how to interact and assist customers to make them feel comfortable,” says Helen.
She invests a lot of time and training in her staff, and says that they always do the best that they can. “Sometimes you can not avoid public comments. We address these problems as quickly and tactfully as possible,” also adding that “our staff always do all that they can to ensure that customers have a delightful experience.”
“When it comes to the team I work with, people are open, and we all drive towards to same goal and that is to give our best service. We all have the same ambition in our work, the same goals and everyone’s happy to be working in this environment.”
The riverside operations
Helen overlooks 50 staff, the facilities and the commercial end of the operations. In terms of marketing, while the hotel does follow the classic advertising campaign trail – newspapers, offers, street advertising – what Helen believes will be the real driver for growth is through return travellers and through trusted word-of-mouth. “We strongly believe that people will stay here, have a good experience and come back again, and even recommend us to others.”
Where her 50 staff are concerned, Helen maintains a training program for each new employee, and nurtures development throughout their working life at the hotel through training and vocational programmes. In terms of the wider community, because the hotel is located in Perth, getting Australian products is easy for the hotel; it continuously tries to introduce more local businesses into the Hotel.
A rounded experience
“We noticed it is not just the hotel rooms that need to meet a certain criteria, but the service and facilities too,” Helen asserts, “Overall people come here if they feel valued throughout the International on the Water experience. From the prices and the vast room space, to the food they eat. We make sure that the high quality of their stay is reverberated throughout the hotel.”
With such ambitious thinking, the revered award nominations and the stunning riverside setting, the future of the hotel looks nothing but positive. As Helen and her staff continue in their forward thinking, proactive momentum, we predict a burgeoning future for the International on the Water Hotel.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: International on the Water Hotel
WHAT: A contemporary four star hotel resting on the banks of Perth’s Swan River
WHERE: 1 Epsom Ave, Ascot WA 6104, Australia