An exclusive interview with Steve Stearns, General Manager - APAC

What’s your professional background? How did you start your career in hospitality?

I spent many years working on the hardware side of the technology industry, first in the US Navy, then for a small technology company in the healthcare industry. I transferred to sales almost 30 years ago and never looked back. I joined Newmarket International (now Amadeus Hospitality), the makers of Delphi Group Sales & Events software in 1999 – that was my entrée into Hospitality Technology. I spent 14 years growing that business across Asia.

What are some defining or pivotal points in your career that shaped your leadership style?

I learned to never give up during a 2-year period at Newmarket when we were securing the business for one of the preeminent Asia hotel chains. During that time, we lost the deal, won the deal, lost it again, and finally secured it.  This one group catapulted our business in Asia and it proved that a consistent, measured approach is the best solution.

How has your role evolved during your time at Cendyn?

I joined as the operational leader in APAC and in 4 months, I assumed overall responsibility for the region.

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What are your main responsibilities as General Manager – APAC at Cendyn?

I’m responsible for all Sales & Operations in the Asia Pacific region. This is overall P&L responsibility, with a focus on client management and sales production.

What’s the most interesting, exciting, and enjoyable part of your job?

I enjoy doing business in the various cultures throughout Asia.  Each country has its own business customs and cultures that require the ability to adapt to be successful. It’s always a challenge.

What do you observe as some of the hottest topics that interest hospitality insiders the most?

How we can communicate most effectively with the client in the most expedient way. It’s all about getting to the customer first.

A lot of us who work in the hospitality industry are passionate about traveling. So what’s on your bucket list for travel?

I want to go on a Safari in Africa, and I want to sail to Easter Island.  I’ve been to every continent but Antarctica, but it is just too cold there for me.

Your career must have taken you to many places in the world!  Among your leisure and business trips, what’s your most memorable travel experience?

I fell off an elephant in Thailand while traveling with my family and they thought it was hilarious, as did I.  I’ve watched numerous baseball games with my son in Japan while eating bento boxes. I took my parents to see the Taj Mahal. I did an Amarone wine tour near Verona, Italy and learned all about my favorite wine. I have many memorable experiences, but most of all it’s the people I travel with I remember the most.

How do you plan and prepare for your leisure trips?

I ask people if they could travel to one place in the world, where would it be and why? I’ve gotten many ideas from that. Once I pick a location, I try to find unique, off-the-beaten-path places to stay or see.

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