Global Newsmaker: Charles Yap

The Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts global comms director tells PRWeek Global why the iPad could revolutionise hotel comms.

Yap: Intercontinental comms director
Yap: Intercontinental comms director

Singaporean Charles Yap arrived in the UK in 2008 when he was promoted to the role of global brand comms director for Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts.

What's the biggest difference between your current role and your previous regional one in Singapore?

Moving from a regional role to a global role. It might sound like the best job in the world, but it is really about rallying the troops. You can't be doing everything yourself - you need to be very clear about what you want your regions to do. And trusting them to do it in the way they think is best. It's not always easy but it's something we continue to learn.

What are you doing to better engage your audiences?

We wanted to see if the iPad could be used to improve the concierges' engagement with hotel guests. There's a lack of understanding of what the concierge can and can't do and so we wanted to use the iPad to get our concierges closer to younger travellers. As a brand we already have a lot of concierge content on our website. We loaded all this info onto the iPad, shipped them to the concierge team, then gave them some brief training. They were able to give out really useful information - it actually helps us a lot. We wanted to make sure it's not a static piece of tech but we wanted it to bring out the best in our human concierges.

How has the frontline media relations aspect of your job changed?

I still do direct engagement with a select group of the media. What they are looking for hasn't changed in terms of the basic principles. The whole tradition of selling exclusives to a big publication hasn't changed. But what we are seeing is PR beyond the traditional platforms - engaging with bloggers to get stories out in a different way. Once you engage in social media, it almost feels like a 24-hour job - you can't really switch off, which is not a bad thing if you have the resources to run it.

London vs Singapore. Which city wins?

The funny thing is I'm heading back to Singapore on Tuesday. I always ask myself - could I move back? I guess I could, but I really like the lifestyle and the city here. I still like working in London. And the timezone helps - you can hold a decent conversation with your colleagues in most parts of the world.

What are your media must-haves?

I'm reading Groundswell by Charlene Li. It's the first social media book I actually decided to buy but this seems to have a timeless element to it. I find myself going further away from print in terms of my personal choice of media. All the travel websites and blogs - my commute to work takes about an hour so I go through my Blackberry and Twitter. I do read the FT, Times and the Independent. I try to mix and match. And of course Metro. 




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