A not-so-quick Q&A with the UK and Nordic roadshow moderator, Erik Munoz.
Q: What does a day at work consist of for you?
A: A day at work for me is usually away from the office, so my concept of a “day at work” is quite different to most office-based people. Whenever I am awake, I’m in “work mode”, at least during Monday to Friday. I really try to “switch off” on weekends. But, as a “morning person”, and I like to exercise, so I usually wake up at 5.30 am, so that means I can start to follow up on email with our head office in Sydney, Australia, before the end of their business day. During the day I divide my time between our European hotel clients and partners, then at about 2 pm or 3 pm in the European afternoon, our US office and clients start to “wake up”, so that usually extends my “working day” to about 7 pm or 8 pm.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: The people. We have a great team, but I also strongly believe in the value of building trusted relationships and being connected to the hotel market. You can’t really stay connected to the hotel industry if you never spend time with hoteliers in their local market and understand the local market conditions and challenges. Being based in London is a great hub to connect to almost anywhere in the Nordic region within 2–3 hours travel time, so I really enjoy the ability to meet with European hoteliers across the region.
Q: Do you have anyone you’ve looked up to?
A: Yes, I am inspired by Richard Dawkins for his great writing talent and ability to share the wonder of science to a non-scientific audience. For the same reasons, I greatly admire Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is also a astrophysicist, author and science presenter. He is currently the TV presenter for an amazing show on the National Geographic channel called Cosmos. Both Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson have a passion to share their knowledge and open up a new world of awareness and understanding for their readers and audience – a bit like HSMAI and their mission to drive the hospitality sales, marketing and revenue management profession forward!
Q: Do you have any nice traditions at your office?
A: Our head office is in Australia, so we observe some traditional Australian business culture in our London office, but perhaps this is a Nordic tradition as well, that is, at 4 pm on a Friday we share drinks and unwind from a busy working week, with food, beer or wine. On a monthly basis we also combine this social element with a review of our monthly performance. We also enjoy a Christmas party together in London, although we need to find a bigger venue each year. We are now more than 100 people in the London office. Last Christmas we were about 55 people and the year before just 22 people. So we have been very busy and growing quickly, but we enjoy mixing a hard work ethic with a strong social culture in the company. We like to laugh (even at ourselves), so we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Work hard, play hard is our philosophy.
Q: How long have you been a member of HSMAI?
A: I joined HSMAI in the Asia-Pacific region back in 2009, and was part of the supporting team to establish the first chapter for HSMAI in Sydney, Australia.
Q: What do you think is the best thing about HSMAI?
A: HSMAI is a critically important association for the career development and training for today’s hospitality sales, marketing and revenue management professionals. With so many changes in our hotel market and rapid innovation that today’s hotelier is challenged with on a daily basis, it’s difficult for universities to keep pace, so HSMAI provides that critical “real world” industry training and knowledge-sharing to ensure tomorrow’s hotel leaders are well equipped to drive their respective businesses forward sustainably and profitably.
Q: Are there any activities or projects you think HSMAI should start up?
A: Yes a great many. I believe in the power of video for education and communication sharing, so I believe we can all leverage online video platforms to reach more people, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day.
Q: Describe your perfect weekend.
A: Time with my family (my wife Ashley, my 6 year-old daughter Maya and my 4-year old son Bodhi). The kids do gymnastics classes Saturday mornings, then the rest of our weekends usually involves walks or hiking in the great green areas around Manchester, and we love our traditional “Sunday roast lunch” either at home or at a great local pub. I’m quite lucky, my family usually lets me have an afternoon nap, usually around 2 pm for just 45 mins or an hour on both days of the weekend. People say you can’t “catch up on sleep”, well I disagree ! I love my weekend afternoon nap.
Q: If you were the prime minister of Norway, what issues would you focus on?
A: Wow, what a question. Since having children, I have a much stronger focus on education. My education was in Sydney, Australia, including hotel school and management training with Hilton. But in terms of formal school education, I believe there is a better way to educate our children, not just in Norway, but in every country. A lot of my studies in school were not really optimal for life outside school. I do believe in a very broad and practical education, but with a balance across on the arts, sciences and technology. So my short answer to your question is: I would support research into how to better educate and prepare our children for an increasingly digital world.
Q: What is the title of the book about your life?
A: Ha! Well that would be a long story. I have a lot of stories and my friends laugh when I try to make “a long story short”. The very first chapter in a book about my life story would begin in Denmark, where my mother met my father. Then the story would quickly move to Peru where I was born in 1969, and still in the very first chapter, the story would move to Australia, which is where I grew up from the age of just 5 months old. How about … A Travelling Mind?
Q: What is your next travel-destination?
A: Spain. We will take a family holiday and fly into the south of Spain and then take a relaxing two weeks in the sunshine and also driving inland with a final destination of Madrid.
Q: Do you have any special hobbies?
A: Yes a lot. I compete in a sport called Crossfit (it’s quite addictive) and Outrigger Canoe Racing (Hawaiian style ocean canoe). I also enjoy music and used to play percussion in a Brazilian samba group (bateria) called SambaFrog in Sydney. And I’m also very much into food and try to follow a healthy lifestyle. The best way to describe my lifestyle is “Primal” and I follow a great blogger called Mark Sisson. His blog is awesome, you should check it out: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/
Q: Thank you for your time. Do you have any personal comments?
A: Our UK and Nordic roadshow has provided great insights into local challenges in each market we visited. We enjoyed great discussion and debate around how to best address these challenges as opportunities, based on learnings from the greater HSMAI community. Ultimately, we see these unique face-to-face meetings as the beginning of a discussion, to be followed up and explored in partnership with HSMAI.
This article was written when Erik Munoz worked for SiteMinder.