Karan Kaul is an Assistant Vice President Development for the Langham Hospitality Group. He is responsible for business development efforts in Asia and growing the current portfolio of 50 properties open or under development worldwide.
With a diverse background in hotel development, sales and operations, Karan also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) in Switzerland. He has on-the-ground experience of the global hospitality sector having worked in corporate office roles and in prestigious properties in the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and Thailand.
- A brief description of your career, work scope, and company?
After graduating from hotel school I started in the food and beverage service, before moving into sales where I spent seven years with Six Senses Hotels and Kempinski. I then transitioned into hotel development. I have lived in Bangkok for over 13 years.
My focus as an Assistant VP Development at Langham Hospitality Group is to meet potential owners and investors who are keen to develop a luxury hotel in Southeast Asia, and who are looking for a company to operate their property. I am responsible for meeting, negotiating and concluding management contracts with these partners, and then managing our ongoing relationship with them.
- What do you like the most about your current profession?
I am able to meet a broad variety of business partners in several countries and each new pitch is a challenge that I enjoy – how to properly plan and present a management solution they are looking for. I also enjoy seeing trends and changes in the industry over time.
- What led you to become a VP in hospitality industry? Has it always been your dream?
No, it was never my aim. I originally planned to become a hotel General Manager, but am very much enjoying my profession as it allows me the chance to use my strengths in communication and presentation fully.
- What are some of the challenges you have faced in your line of work and how did you overcome them?
There is a lot of competition from larger and more niche hotel brands. I have always focused on highlighting our strengths and finding ways to make the brand story and services relatable in a very specific way to that partner.
- How do you keep yourself motivated in your profession?
I enjoy learning about new tourism trends and also make sure I network actively with the new generation of hospitality executives, as they always have a different point of view and are our future clients. These activities help maintain my perspective of opportunities and future growth in the industry, and where new markets and potential clients may emerge.
- What do you do when you are off the clock?
I like to spend time visiting new places in Bangkok with my wife and young son, and also going to the gym.
- Where do you see the hospitality industry moving in the coming five years?
Much more consolidation with the larger chains growing even larger. But also many more smaller and boutique brands coming up, specific to each country.
- Do you have any advice for BIS students who would like to pursue a career in the hospitality industry?
It’s very broad and you can find a wide variety of areas to work in. Where you start is never where you end up, so for the first year or two just focus on the basics in operations with an established international chain. Then either continue, or branch out into another part of the industry.
- What are some of your favourite memories from your time at BIS?
The school activities and the friends I made there.
- What was the most important lesson you learned from your time with BIS?
BIS was the foundation on which the rest of my education, and then eventually my career was built. The smaller classes and personalized attention from the teaching team helped build my confidence and communication skills to be able to cope with the larger environment I attended in Singapore during my middle and high school years (ages 12 to 18).
In the end it was the sense of community and the strong relationships I enjoyed at BIS that helped later in my education.