With a globetrotting hospitality career heading diverse properties in
Paris, New York, Moscow, Shanghai, and Bangkok, William Haandrikman
knows more than a thing or two about iconic hotels.
As the former general manager of Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, he
led the hotel to achieve Forbes Travel Guide's Five-Star rating for
three years and was honoured as "General Manager of the Year" at the
Stelliers Asia and South Asia 2019 awards.
And now the Accor senior executive has recently moved from Vietnam to
Singapore to take up the reins as managing director at Fairmont
Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford Singapore, which means it’s not
one, but three iconic properties, including the Raffles City Convention
Centre, that now come under his charge.
three have different identities, but we need to manage them as one
complex,” he said. “So how do we put the complex on the radar as the
place for MICE, the place for leisure, and the place for business?”
The integrated complex is home to Fairmont Singapore, Swissotel The Stamford, Raffles City Convention Centre (RCCC), plus 12 restaurants and bars.
Speaking to Travel Weekly Asia in the initial weeks of his new role,
Haandrikman admitted his brain was already in overdrive as he explored
every nook and cranny of the 70-storey building in Singapore’s city
centre. [Editor’s note: Swissotel The Stamford remains the tallest hotel
As he transitions into his new role, Haandrikman is prioritising
service excellence and enhancing guest experience. He is also leading an
integrated business strategy to establish the appropriate branding
identity for each hospitality entity within the Raffles City complex,
including Fairmont Singapore, Swissotel The Stamford, Raffles City
Convention Centre (RCCC), plus 12 restaurants and bars.
Remaking a destination hotel icon
With three decades of international hospitality experience, the
seasoned hotelier has witnessed first-hand how hotels have changed amid
ever-evolving traveller preferences. Marketing a hotel is no longer a
“Thirty years ago, we were selling beds, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Now we sell experiences,” he noted. “The challenge today is to create a
hotel as a destination that keeps guests within while still exploring
the city. That’s a big difference.”
Despite the challenges posed by increasing competition, hotels also
have the potential to innovate and rise above. Haandrikman recognises
that Marina Bay Sands (MBS) has established itself as Singapore's
meetings icon. However, in his new leadership position, he is determined
to offer stiff competition and position the integrated complex as a
The Raffles City Convention Centre offers more than 10,000 sqm of flexible function space, including 34 meeting rooms and three ballrooms.
“I always say ‘Guys, people come to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. We
have the best view of the Eiffel Tower; we have the best view of MBS’,”
he said, stating his reasons on why guests should consider a stay at
Swissotel The Stamford or Fairmont Singapore.
In response to the confusion that the market may have over Accor
brands, Haandrikman states that Fairmont sits squarely in the luxury
tier while Swissotel the mid-market segment. Together, having both
brands in a single location “complement each other” as an accommodation
option and elevates the allure for corporate groups hosting their
meetings at RCCC.
Meanwhile, the complex’s focus on sports groups has yielded positive
results as more tournaments, from rugby and table tennis to esports,
take place in Singapore. Not only has the complex hosted The
International (Dota 2), one of the biggest esports tournaments, Fairmont
Singapore also partnered Razer to launch luxury gamer-centric suites
that come decked out with special gaming chairs and consoles. “Singapore
is highly connected with high-speed internet; we need to capitalise on
is yet another core competency at the complex that Haandrikman will
continue to drive. There’s already a rooftop aquaponics farm, which
supplies vegetables, herbs and fish to the on-site restaurants, while
special taps with water filters have been installed in the rooms to omit
use of single-use plastics and a food waste management system installed
to curb food waste.
Fairmont Signature King Salon Suite.
Cultivating loyalty and building a fan base
There are some tenets that the 30-year hospitality veteran holds
dear. He believes that employee experience is inextricably connected to
guest experience. Providing exceptional experiences for both guests and
employees will turn them into fans of Accor and its properties.
The importance of cultivating fans – and loyalty – couldn’t be
understated. “Loyal guests and fans spend 2.6 times more than a
non-fan,” remarked Haandrikman, who finds delight that Singapore Tourism
Board’s vision of offering exceptional destination experience to
attract new and repeat visitors aligns with his long-standing
a small island and everybody needs each other. When we have big
conferences or events in town, how can we work together to offer an
experience that creates a fan base and makes people come back? What I
like about Singapore is really that everybody is working for the same