“Does anyone want coffee?” Offers Loui Lim graciously, who only returned to our shores the previous evening having spent weeks overseas due to his “packed” work schedule. “I flew in yesterday from meetings in Las Vegas for this interview. Then I fly to Seoul to meet with potential suppliers, back to Hong Kong for more meetings and then back to Las Vegas again,” he says candidly, revealing that he visits their German dockyard regularly where their mega cruise ship is currently being built.
Wearing multiple hats, Loui is Genting Malaysia’s senior vice president of leisure and hospitality development, Dream Cruises’ vice president of brand strategy, marketing and communications, brand strategy and management, among others. Thus, entailing him to be at all corners of the globe, spending only one week in a month back home in Kuala Lumpur. His job scope attests to the extent in which Genting Group has grown from a single hill resort to a modern-day conglomerate whose portfolio spans leisure and hospitality, plantations, property development, energy, and life sciences and biotechnology. But it is here at Resorts World Genting where the latest phase in the group’s metamorphosis takes place and offers a glimpse of what the future holds. Or as Loui puts it, to transform his grandfather’s (the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong) legacy for the next 50 years for an audience that is ever more sophisticated, demanding and competitive.
“Genting has always focused on millennials. When my grandfather founded the company and the resort, it was revolutionary and trend-setting. His audience then were the millennials of their days – the Baby Boomers and Generation X. They fell in love with the Genting brand and they remain a loyal audience to this day,” Loui replies when queried on the group’s pursuit of the younger generation.
Stepping into Crockfords Hotel, the first hotel in Malaysia to be awarded five stars by Forbes Travel Guide, is evocative of being transposed into a kaleidoscope. Apart from luxury that permeates every layer from attentive butlers and pots of fresh roses to splendid marble bathroom fixtures, there is a distinct focus placed on visuals the moment you waltz in. Take the commissioned artwork by Rebecca Louise Law composing of thousands of dried flowers of every shade encased within a quartet of glass boxes denoting each changing season, for example, which just begs to be pictured with and will absolutely resonate with millennials with a thirst for the next Instagrammable spot for #ootd.
“One could discern that Resorts World Genting has become a playground for millennials. We are curious, worldly and constantly exploring and seeking out new things,” Loui says when asked about how being a millennial himself aligned with Resorts World Genting’s transformation. “While this may also be true for the generations that have come before us, I think that as millennials, we are also driven by the desire to demonstrate and to display what we have seen and learnt to everyone.”
The decision to think big, go further, try harder and set trends, according to Loui, is because the business- as-usual approach doesn’t work with the millennial audience who have grown up in the digital information age and are exposed to various exploits. A glance at Loui’s Instagram page is bound to strike a chord with the social media generation who love to be pictured living the life on Instagram. The citizen of the world who was born in Malaysia, educated in the UK and now living in Hong Kong counts himself fortunate to have travelled to many places, which in turn, inspire him to nail down the fundamentals during the curatorial stage. One of which that have made their way to Resorts World Genting is Burger & Lobster.
“Burger & Lobster is a brand that sparked a culinary craze in London – and let me tell you that sparking a trend in London is no easy feat. It was an even more challenging feat to bring such a brand over to Malaysia, but 2016 marked the launch of the very first Burger & Lobster in Asia and it was at Resorts World Genting,” he says, adding that despite the team were slightly apprehensive at first, they have since set their sight on bigger things, having been galvanised by Burger & Lobster’s popularity among gourmands, where it is presently the largest revenue contributor among the resort’s chain of restaurants.
Loui believes the “diversity of our offerings” is their strength and will stand them in good stead. Besides Zouk Live, from the end of October 2019 to early January, Resorts World Genting will be showcasing Train to Busan in the first-of-its-kind VR experience, upon realising “that our audience are great fans of Korean movies and VR experiences”. No expenses are spared as he admits millions of dollars have been set aside specifically to create an immersive experience such as the re-creation of the bustling streets of Busan, which will include actual Korean F&B outlets as well as a realistic train station movie set.
Forthcoming about the challenges they have faced so far in the process, Loui cites getting the delicate balance between brand and experience mix right as one such complication.
“It has to be authentic. A name is just a name. The substance is what matters. When we make a decision to franchise a brand, we have to be certain that we can replicate the original atmosphere, ambience and quality several thousand miles away,” he elaborates.
“While we want to have a slate of exciting and amazing experiences to appeal to the millennial audience, we also do not want to exclude other aspects of our audience. We have to consider geography. Our business is not just about Malaysia. We have to think bigger, go further. To do that we need to have the right people and the correct talents in our team.”
Loui is quick to deflect personal credit for the group’s transformation, adding that it is a collective achievement by “many brilliant and talented people” in the company where each of them plays “a significant role in transforming and evolving our company” led by his father, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, the group’s chairman. As a creative person, he enjoys injecting his inputs as part of a wider conversation that often explores an “entire web of possibilities” and turning “those ideas into something tangible,” he explains, eloquently likening teamwork to art and is proud to be part of team. “Michelangelo did not paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel alone. He had a team of assistants helping him. Similarly, my father has an incredible team to support him and execute his vision.”
It is the kinship that has kept him grounded, reflected through Loui’s pleasant personality and humility. He finds simple joys in having a meal at home with his family whenever he can, affording him the rare private moment to sit down with his parents as a son, not an employee, and his brother. He has learnt with time of the importance to allocate time for quality family time.
“A last name can only take you so far. I am an employee of the company and I have responsibilities expected of me. Certainly, there is scrutiny, mostly from my father! I hope my grandfather would be proud of my accomplishments,” Loui opens up on expectation and scrutiny as a member of one of the most preeminent families in Asia.
“My father and grandfather are some of the best role models I can think of. They are both very determined and hard-working individuals. I saw that first-hand when I was growing up. The drive they have displayed is the drive that propels me. I am fortunate their hard work has benefited me, but I have also been trained to work hard since I was young. My grandfather always reminded us that there are no shortcuts to success, just hard work, and my father is further proof of that. I am incredibly awed by everything that they have accomplished and I am determined to follow in their footsteps.
“My mother is also my shining light who has brought balance to my life. From her, I have learnt to be humble, considerate and compassionate. At the end of the day, we are all humans and it is important that we should show love, kindness and respect to each other.”
Photographer Vincent Paul Yong @VPYP
Stylist Nigel Lee
Styling assistance Andrew Loh
Make-up and hair artist Joey Yap
This story was first published in Prestige Malaysia October 2019 issue