How I Got Here: Bob Van Den Oord

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with The Langham, London managing director Bob Van Den Oord

Related tags: Hotel

Bob Van Den Oord is managing director of The Langham, London, as well as regional vice president of operations for The Langham group in Europe, the Middle East and US.

Why hotels?
I love the glamour; the travel, the people, and the variation that hospitality offers.  You have an opportunity to make a difference to guests and their experience, but also to staff and their work satisfaction, which is extremely rewarding.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
That it is a very demanding industry, and to succeed and thrive you have to make sacrifices. It’s something difficult for a teenager to comprehend, but in the long term, the negative aspects turn into benefits.

What do you do in your spare time?
What spare time?! Only kidding. I love travelling, going out, cooking and sports. I have a season ticket for Spurs, but that’s less enjoyable these days. 

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
I love counter dining; so sitting at our own counter in Landau, having a snack and glass of wine I always look forward to. Boca Di Lupo and Barrafina are top of my list. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t in hotels?
Mayor of a large city. I can think of no better job than to rebuild a city, and make other lives better, even though everyone would blame you when the subway breaks down!

What motivates you?
The joy of seeing it all coming together – happy staff; happy guests; and happy experiences.

Where was your last holiday?
Andalucía, we travelled to Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the hotel business?
A mixture of people, from my mother, to my first general manager Ben Sington, and my current CEO Stefan Leser. I have been lucky enough to have worked alongside the most inspiring people.

What keeps you up at night?
My football team, and wondering whether they will win the next game.

Worst business decision?
All I can say is watch this space!

Best business decision?
Accepting the offer to move to London to run the flagship Langham hotel.  It’s a stunning property, in a great city, with great community spirit. London is so fast paced, and I thrive in this type of environment. 

What are you reading at the moment?
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the hospitality business?
To be resilient and stay the course even when times are tough.  It is easy to give up especially when you are fresh out of hospitality school and are thrown into the deep end, working ridiculously long and unsociable hours.  A career is never a straight line; you will have many highs and lows, but there is no other industry that is as rewarding as hospitality.  Life is all about exciting experiences and thriving at what you do, seize the moment!

If you could change one thing about the hospitality industry today, what would it be?
As with any industry, we all have to move with the times.  One area that I am keen to change or evolve further is to ensure my colleagues have the opportunity to enjoy a better work-life balance. Work-life balance is such an important aspect of a healthy work environment and I am all for helping reduce stress and prevent burning out in the workplace.  Whether this is through offering flexible working hours, or the ability to work from home; change is good, and we should all embrace it.

CV to date

Born: Breda (The Netherlands), 1967

1983-1986 | Catering college in Belgium
1986-1988 | Degree in Hotel Management completed in Brussels

1988 | Management Trainee at the Excelsior Hotel, London, George V in Paris and the Londonderry Hotel, London. 
1989 | Food and Beverage Manager at The Saint Georges Hotel, London. 
1996 | Food and Beverage Manager at The Strand Palace Hotel.
1999 | Resident Manager at Le Meridien, Boston
2004 | Managing Director at Eaton Hotel, Hong Kong
2008 | Vice President Sales and Marketing at Langham Hospitality Group.
2013 | Managing Director and VP of Brands at The Langham, Hong Kong.
2015 | Managing Director at The Langham, London.
2019 | Managing Director at The Langham, London, and RVP Operations for Europe, the Middle East and US.

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