New General Manager of Hilton Manila Reveals His Winning Strategy

Voted as one of the top 3 best places to work in, Hilton Manila’s new General Manager John Lucas shares his plans on how to continue the hotel’s winning streak.

After the standstill from the pandemic, the hospitality industry has been slowly but surely recovering. However, the competition to stand out is just as fierce, given that many players—both local and international—have entered the playing field.

In order to excel amid the competition, a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is essential. Defined as the “one feature or the perceived benefit of a good which makes it unique from the rest of the competing brands in the market,” it acts as the brand’s trump card in order to strengthen its presence in the industry.

Alternatively, it is what motivates a customer to avail of a product or service (with some even making a repeat purchase), even though it might be costlier than other products. And for Hilton Hotel, its new General Manager (GM) John Lucas shares how the hotel’s USP has helped them not only remain relevant but even win the prestigious Overall Championship Awards (Professional Division) in the Philippine Culinary Cup and multiple awards from Haute Grandeur Awards just this year alone!

Meet the New General Manager

A 30-year hospitality veteran in his own right, John Lucas is Hilton Manila joined Hilton Manila as its newly appointed General Manager last March 2022. Having hailed from Australia, he brings with him extensive experience within the Hilton group, as he has led teams from different countries across multiple venues, including commercial and operational divisions.

For him, getting to know his team was his top priority. Once they communicated their expectations and needs, Lucas could lay down flexible efficiency systems. This translated to a happy, productive working environment, which will ultimately lead to satisfied repeat guests.

Next on his agenda? Getting acquainted with the stakeholders in the local market, key business leaders, and the hotel ownership community.

John Lucas Hilton Manila General Manager
People Person—Hilton Manila’s General Manager John Lucas believes that building connections is important, not just with customers, but also with the hotel’s employees and staff.

By the People, For the People

Barely 8 months on the job as of today, and already, John Lucas has managed to create a people-centered organization that has been successful in retaining the best and acquiring new talent into the fold. “It’s all about the people,” Lucas shares. “Being in the hotel industry, our goal is to give excellent service to our guests. This can only be achieved if we, as an organization, give the best care to our own (employees).

“Our work culture is what sets us apart. We value each person in the Hilton Manila group—from the attentive doorman, housekeeping personnel, and cheerful front desk to our multi-tasking executives,” he enthuses.

John considers empathy, leadership by example, and sharp business acumen as attributes that an astute GM must possess. “Ultimately, we are here to ensure that our key stakeholders achieve the financial outcomes they expect. Business is on the uptrend and I am optimistic that we will continue to do better in 2023 once we see the influx of more tourists in the country. We will continue to innovate and offer unique experiences to all,” says Lucas.

What to Expect From Hilton Manila

In the hospitality industry, good service is the key to success. And for Hilton Manila, this all goes back to offering the best amenities for its guests. How? By creating an unforgettable experience with innovative amenities. These include:

Accessibility, Inclusivity, and Proximity

Nestled within Newport World Resorts—the country’s first integrated entertainment and tourism destination—Hilton Manila is conveniently located across the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 and is accessible via the  “Runway Manila” sky bridge.

Its proximity to the Manila Bayside tourist hub and the Makati Central Business District makes it an attractive choice for both leisure and business travelers alike.

Proudly pet-friendly, the hotel also boasts 356 well-appointed guest rooms and suites furnished with luxurious amenities (like the famed Serenity beds), modern fixtures, and the innovative Digital Key “direct room technology”—a perk exclusive to Hilton Honors members which allows them to use their smartphones as their room key for seamless access.

Moreover, incomparable in-house dining options, ballrooms and event places for celebrations, and the hip and happening Vega pool continue to entice guests to make Hilton their home away from home.

Hilton Manila Hotel
Service is king and Hilton Manila strives to provide an experience that makes its patrons want to go back.

A Safe Space Amidst The Pandemic

The positive “almost familial” work structure made everyone rise to the challenge of operating during the pandemic. Employees took on new and unfamiliar duties—sales personnel working as housekeeping and food and beverage restaurant attendants working as kitchen stewards.

In the early months, when Hilton Manila housed guests under quarantine conditions, the staff had to also provide a completely different type of guest service. Safety protocols were put in place to assist people from their arrival to their departure. No contact servicing of rooms and restricted dining services were also observed.

Today, in spite of the easing of restrictions, the hotel maintains a very strict safety procedure. It uses a green cleaning solution as a disinfectant and implements double sanitizing of the 10 top touch points in all its rooms (lights, door knobs, phones, hair dryer, etc). Masking up and social distancing are still encouraged within the premises.

Award Winning Dining Options

On top of receiving multiple awards from Haute Grandeur Awards 2022 as Best City Hotel, Best Leisure Hotel, Best Lifestyle Hotel, and Best Business Hotel in the Philippines, Hilton Manila’s chefs have also bagged top prizes in the 2022 Philippine Culinary Cup. This only solidifies the hotel’s reputation as a culinary powerhouse with its innovative dining offerings and restaurants and bars.

What’s more, the property’s dining outlets include a variety of cuisines and choices in order to cater to a wide range of cravings and preferences. These include a lounge and bar for meetings at Madison Lounge & Bar, as well as restaurants like Hua Yuan-Brasserie Chinoise for Shanghaines food and Kusina for Filipino dishes.

As for those who prefer a more secure and safer dining experience, Hilton Manila pioneered its very own Vubble—a dining experience with fully-airconditioned and sanitized pods, which are located around the Vega pool. There, guests can savor dishes prepared ala minute under the stars.

“I’m happy to join the Manila team on a banner year. There have been challenges, for sure, but those have been greatly outweighed by our achievements as a group,” ends Lucas. “The recognition we have received this year is truly outstanding. But being voted as the Top 3 Best Places to work in [the Philippines]—that speaks a lot to what we have to offer here in Hilton.”

John Lucas Hilton Manila General Manager
Behind a great team is a capable boss. Under Lucas’ leadership, Hilton Manila was voted as the Top 3 Best Places to work in the Philippines.

Photos from Hilton Manila