Seventeen years young. Born in Singapore. 86 properties across 44 key gateway cities worldwide. More than 15,000 serviced residences. Frasers Hospitality.

Fifty-three years and going strong. Graduated with distinction from Cornell University in New York. Over 30 years in the hospitality business. CEO of Frasers Hospitality. Choe Peng Sum.

To talk about Frasers Hospitality is to talk about Choe Peng Sum, the man who has been at the helm of one of the world’s leading serviced residences since its inception in 1996.

Indeed, Frasers is a young company, one which started with just two properties in Singapore before heading out into the global market to nowhere other than Seoul in 2002.

Eleven years later, Frasers has the privilege of claiming to be the fastest growing company in the hospitality industry, with the opening of its third operation ― Fraser Place Namdaemun ― in Seoul earlier this June.

And it is here in Namdaemun in the heart of downtown Seoul that Choe and more than 70 senior managers of Frasers have congregated for the 11th annual GM (general manager) forum.

“Each year, we hold it usually in cities where we have a new property, so this year, with the recent opening of Fraser Place Namdaemun Seoul in June, this city was the obvious choice,” Choe said in between a string of meetings and presentations throughout this week.Fraser Place Namdaemun Seoul

“This annual event is a great opportunity for GMs to meet and get to know each other. This is important as we need to be able to operate collectively in order to consistently deliver the brand promise,” he added.

Asked about the main theme of this year’s forum, the hotelier said, “Building the brand. It may sound rhetorical, but with evolving customer needs and a more competitive landscape, consistent brand building from all aspects is required.”

As he relishes his return to the Korean capital city, Choe reminisces, “Back in 2002 when we were still at a relatively early stage of growth with only two Singapore properties under our belt, we decided to open Fraser Suites Insadong as part of our vision of becoming a global player.

“As Asia’s fourth-largest economy, the prospects for the Korean serviced residence market are very bright indeed, especially with the influx of visitors expected to meet Korea’s goal of attracting 20 million international visitors by 2020.”

The fact that Frasers has been able to find such a strong footing in Seoul, which is seen by many as a tough challenge in the hospitality industry is very commendable.

“We have built a very strong base of residents here and Korea will continue to be a key growth market for Frasers in line with its global strategy to strengthen its footprint across North Asia,” Choe said, beaming with confidence. In this regard, he said his company is keen on expansion in Korea and beyond by introducing diversified brands, namely Modena, to serve as a second-tier serviced residences targeting “road warriors.” More recently, Capri was created with e-generation travelers mind.

On the whole, he said, there will continue to be a surge in corporate relocation activity, which will be from two areas: regional, generated from companies within Asia who are eager to capitalize on the economic growth in Asia, as well as international, reflecting a shift in strategy by MNCs (multi-national corporations) to send their employees to the Asia-Pacific region to capitalize on this growth, either through expansion, or acquisition.

“Our immediate plans are to stay focused on our growth strategy in strengthening our global footprint in markets where we have an established presence, as well as capitalize on first-mover advantage to venture into second- and third-tier cities where we see great growth potentials,” Choe said.