Dr Bert “Bow-Thai” van Walbeek has been a Hotelier for 45 years and Marketer of Tourism for 35 years, a Motivator and a Master of Disaster since 25 years and a lecturer for 15 years.
After completing the Hotelschool in The Hague, the first part of his career was accomplished in Europe working in operational, later sales, and then marketing positions in Hilton, Inter-Continental, Canadian Pacific and Sheraton Hotels around Europe.
The second part started with his arrival in Thailand in 1985, where he spearheaded the successful marketing efforts to reposition the Royal Orchid Sheraton. He also became a member of the Marketing Committee of TICA (Thailand Incentive & Convention Association), and was the Founder and first President of the Thailand Chapter of SITE (Society of Incentive Travel Executives).
By the end of 1988 he was appointed as Sheraton’s Vice President Marketing for the Middle East, an area that covered 5 time zones and 26 hotels. During this tenure he had to face the marketing opportunities of the Gulf Crisis and developed the “Back to Normal” concepts for both the Sheraton Hotels in the area and for the Egyptian General Authority for the Promotion of Tourism. These recovery programs were launched 2 weeks after the Gulf Crisis was resolved.
In 1991 he returned to Thailand and joined Siam Express as Executive Vice President in charge of the International Leisure & MICE Division and in 1992 he was again elected as SITE Chapter President. He was awarded the EIBTM/ITME Incentive Travel Personality Award for the Asian region and became once more a Board Member of TICA and Chairman of TICA’s Marketing Committee.
In May 1992 he had to face the opportunities of another major crisis and, as Chairman of the TAT Marketing Working Group for the 1992 Recovery Committee, developed the “The World, Our Guest”- campaign.
Insistent requests by hotel managements to tap into his vast experience led to a decision to begin working on The Winning Edge concept in 1993 and, after several trial runs with diverse hotel groups and travel products, he is now Managing Director of The Winning Edge, a boutique consulting company, offering the following services to mainly the tourism industries, but also to car, pharmaceutical and optical organizations.
The Winning Edge is offering training, coaching and consulting for:
- Risk & Crisis Management: being prepared and expecting the unexpected
- Marketing and Sales: sell, not tell towards winning solutions
- Destination Marketing: creating winning MICE destination products and branding
- MICE Marketing: designing and delivering winning MICE marketing plans
- Business and Leisure Events: developing, planning and managing win-win MICE events
- Human Resources: selecting and developing employees and executives
His expertise is well-known in the Asian MICE Industry. He has trained hundreds of participants together with the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), Society of Incentive Travel Executives ( SITE ) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association ( ATA).
Through individually developed courses on all marketing, sales and negotiation issues, on selling destinations and on conference and incentive handling in Asia he has always been, and still is, deeply involved in Asia’s Business & Leisure Events Industry.
From 1998 to 2000 he returned to the hotel industry as General Manager of the 500-room Siam City Hotel in Bangkok and was able to deepen his understanding for the overall managerial, service and owner-relation challenges.
He is also recognized as a speaker at many industrial and academic conferences and seminars, where his motivational and humorous manner of presentations were an inspiration for executives of companies like International Herald Tribune, Amadeus, Essilor and Schott Zwiesel and associations like APEC, ICCA, PATA, UNWTO and WTTC.
In 2003 in cooperation with PATA, he wrote an information brochure on Risk & Crisis Management: “Expect the unexpected“. Based on this publication he has conducted many seminars on Crisis Prevention and Management in all of Asia for organizations like APETIT, China Outbound Forum, ICCA, IT&CMA, HotecAsia, UNESCAP and Tourism Malaysia, ASEAN Hotel Association and HICAP in Hong Kong.
As a taskforce member he cooperated on the Tourism Crisis Recovery Communication Plan for Bali, as well as for Chengdu, to help the Tourism Industries in that area back on their feet as soon as humanly possible. Recently he coordinated the PATA Nepal Tourism Rapid Recovery Task Force, bringing volunteer resources together to produce the campaign “Nepal, back on top of the world” with 78 short term revival recommendations.
During 8 years he was consulting the Macau Government Tourism Office towards setting up a separate government entity called Tourism Crisis Management Office as its Official Advisor !
He was Chairman of the PATA Thailand Chapter, Co-Chair of the Education & Training Committee, Chairman of the PATA Rapid Recovery Taskforce and presently member of the Hospitality Committee.
For the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association he is training on regular basis subjects like Writing Winning Proposals, Selling WOW Destination and Modern MICE Marketing. He develops additional MICE capacities through Train the Trainer program for TICA senior members as well as academic lecturers. For similar activities in Taiwan and a book based on his bi-monthly column in the Event Platform magazine he was honored with title Dr. MICE !
In addition to those consulting and training activities, he is lecturing the “next generation”, through Master Program courses on Tourism, Hospitality and Business and Leisure Events.
He was recently conferred the lifetime award of an Honorary Doctor of Letters ( Hon DLitt ) by the University of West London. He also has been an Adjunct Professor at various Thailand’s Universities and a Honorary Professor at Shanghai Normal University. He is a renowned guest lecturer at Universities in China, Germany, Macau, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
He is the author of a MICE case study book “Dr. MICE” and the co-author of a Crisis management guideline called “Bounce Back”
The Winning Edge is presently involved in projects in Bali, China (PRC), Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Bahrain, Taiwan and, of course, Thailand.