The truth lies in the right casting.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ SHY Ventures
Wednesday, 7th June 2006
What's your brand DNA and which brand suits you? Yeoh Siew Hoon finds out from a "casting director".

The book by Rupert Holmes, "Where The Truth Lies", is a romp of a read. It's a Hollywood who-dunnit thriller spiced with lots of sex, laced with plenty of scandal, and packed with lots of twists and turns.

Its protagonist is an opportunistic, ambitious, I-will-do-anything-for-a-good-story female journalist who goes in search of dirt on one of Hollywood's most famous comedy double acts, Vince and Lanny.

The movie by Atom Egoyan though was a bit of a let-down. Sexual content notwithstanding – a girl-on-girl scene got censors sharpening their scissors and giving it a NC17 rating in the US, I believed it was let down by bad casting.

Alison Lohman (Matchstick Men), who plays the journalist Karen O'Connor, is more sweet eye-candy than opportunistic, hard-nosed journalist. ("That character should exude intelligence other than sensual vibes. Miss Lohman doesn't exude either and makes the whole premise collapse," says one reviewer.)

I also found it hard to accept Mr Nice Guy Colin Firth – Mr Darcy in Pride & Prejudice and The Nice Boyfriend in Bridget Jones' Diary – as the sleazy, sex-starved, closet homosexual, Vince.

Only Kevin Bacon was credible as the smooth-talking, charming lady's man Lanny.

It made me think of how the wrong casting can often lead to disaster, either at the box office or in business.

If you take a hotel as the theatre, its cast gets to perform a new play everyday with the general manager as director. The basic plot is there but each day the characters change depending on the guest profile and each cast member, while sticking to the basic script, must know how to improvise their lines when necessary.

For each play to turn out well, you've got to hire the right director who has to hire the right talent for the right role. The director then has to put his actors through the right paces.

A conversation I had recently with an executive search professional made me think of this parallel with the theatre.

Executive search professionals can be seen as the "casting directors" and he/she specializes in "casting" talent for upscale hotels. He/she's put thousands of people into thousands of jobs in the hospitality industry and he/she says they can pretty much pick out which person would fit which brand.

How, I asked?

Because every brand has a DNA and in casting talent, he/she looks for someone with matching DNA.

I then asked for the key words he/she looked for when casting for the right talent for the right brand.

Here's the list.
Shangri-La – family, quality, caring
InterContinental – bottomline, driven, ambitious
GHM – committed, unique, style
Hyatt – F&B focus, bottomline, diplomatic
Ritz Carlton – gentlemen/ladies, service, quality, "one style"

So which brand do you belong to?

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection".

She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460

Check out Siew Hoon's new website, www.shy-connection.com, which features a newly-launched e-zine with a difference.
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