Bonnie Poon calls herself an accidental hotelier. Having studied Sociology at the University of British Columbia, she had her own business at the age 20 in property management, dealing with long term and short term rentals. It was then that she was approached to start a new venture with the owner of the historic boutique Queens Hotel. Since then, as the Director of Operations, she has been driving the hotel business.
In conversation with Bonnie:
As a child, what did you want to grow up to be? Did you see yourself in the hospitality industry?
As a child, I wanted to be in many positions such as a teacher, astronaut, nurse, or dentist. When I was studying Sociology at the University of British Columbia, I figured I wanted to deal with properties. That’s how I ended up in property management. To my surprise, I totally did not expect to end up in hospitality.
How did you start your journey in the hospitality industry?
I had just finished my studies at the University of British Columbia. During my studies,had started my business in property management, doing both long term and short term rentals. The Owner of the Hotel approached me to start a new venture with him and that is how Queens Hotel came to be.
What is the biggest challenge you faced in your journey?
A hotel is like a cake with different layers and to create the best cake you need to figure out what you need and adjust accordingly. Coming from a non-digital background, one of the biggest challenges I faced was creating an optimized website for our hotel. Questions that we had to tackle: How would I drive traffic to the website? How would I decrease the bounce rate? How to convert traffic to direct bookings?
What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from my family, mentors, and my faith. From them I was instilled a sense of responsibility. How I conduct my affairs are based on two things: doing the best I can and with compassion.
Bonnie, volunteering at the Union Gospel Mission
Bonnie, with the Owner of Queens Hotel raised C$10,000 for homeless kids by volunteering for the Sleep Out Movement by Convenant House, Vancouver.
Is there a woman who has played a role in mentoring you?
My mom was an important figure in my career. As a young child, she taught me to never be afraid of hard work. To succeed, you need to work hard. The success of our business is based on that principle.
What can we find you doing when you are not operating your hotel?
Sipping a mojito on the beaches of Mexico.
If not a hotelier, what would you have been?
Most likely, I would have been a property manager.
What is your advice to budding hoteliers and hospitality professionals?
CANI: Constant & Never Ending Improvement.
The hotel industry is not static and constantly changes. To be competitive and to be a leader, you always need to tweak and improve.