Biz Buzz: Doubling down on security
After a two week disruption of its business, Resorts World Manila reopened its door a few days ago with no fanfare.
Biz Buzz learned that the casino-slash-resort-slash-shopping mall-slash-entertainment center-slash-hotel resumed services quietly on June 15 to the relief of the many owners and employees of the establishments in the Newport City facility across the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The casino remains closed, of course, because regulators like Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. are still probing the incident earlier this month that resulted in 38 fatalities and injuries to many. But for now, the food and shopping services have resumed. Foot traffic is markedly lighter, of course, due to the absence of the casino, but that is expected to pick up once word of mouth about the reopened restaurants does its work.
Meanwhile, Biz Buzz learned that the company—controlled by tycoon Andrew Tan—is continuing its mission to address whatever concerns authorities and the broader public have about security in its facilities.
Specifically, Resorts World has hired the services of a foreign security firm called “Black Panda” (we’re not kidding) which, its website says, is composed of former US Special Forces personnel.
On the local side, Mr. Tan has beefed up his security brains and brawn, hiring as security consultant the Presidential Security Group commander of former President Aquino, Brigadier General Ramon Mateo Dizon.
Mr. Tan also hired as security consultant retired Philippine National Police Director Leocadio Santiago, former head of the PNP Special Action Force and the capable (but somewhat unfortunate) former director of the National Capital Region Police Office when the Luneta tourist hostage-taking incident happened in 2010. —Daxim L. Lucas
Enderun ‘end run’
Petroleum trading and logistics magnate Dennis Uy is expected to seal his acquisition of Enderun Colleges Inc. very soon, perhaps in the next couple of weeks.
According to a reliable source, the businessman is now only completing the documentation needed to execute his takeover of this educational institution. And he’s buying it lock, stock and barrel.
How did this opportunity to acquire 100 percent of Enderun come about? From what we hear, the school was put on the auction block. Uy’s group went through the bidding process and emerged the winner.
We heard the Philippine Competition Commission—the body mandated to review merger and acquisition deals that exceed P1 billion in value to ensure they won’t prejudice the interest of consumers—had no qualms about this transaction. It is the first time that the Davao-based businessman is investing in the education space.
Established in 2005 by a group of business leaders, including senior executives from Hyatt Corp. in the US, Enderun offers a full range of bachelor’s degree and non-degree courses in hospitality management, culinary arts and business. This is a school that caters to a premium market but we won’t be surprised to see it, under Uy’s leadership, to open satellite campuses in selective locations outside Metro Manila.
Enderun has a student population of around 1,200 full-time college and certificate students, based on a regulatory filing by A. Soriano Corp. (Anscor), the biggest stockholder of this school with a 20 percent stake. Another key stockholder is the Lao family which also controls D&L Industries, with a 10 percent stake. The JKTC Group of John Tiu Ka Cho is likewise among the 25 shareholders of Enderun. —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Social media lessons learned
Recently, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) encountered an error in its internal system that caused alarm among many of its customers who, upon checking their accounts online or via ATMs, were either angry or surprised to find that their balances plummeted to negative values or —for the lucky ones—more than doubled.
Though the issue has long been resolved, and clients’ account balances are now reflected correctly over electronic channels, there are lessons to be learned for the bank, many of them from the fury that unfolded on social media.
When crisis hits, people are more likely to respond negatively first with raw sentiments driven by emotion. These can come in droves and potentially even cause hysteria. Posts expressing anger spread the fastest among close connections and beyond immediate social media friends, compared to messages expressing joyful sentiments.
On June 7, negative comments on social media spiked as people posted in anger and frustration over the error, with some cursing the bank and asking for their money back. While the bank reassured clients that no hacking was involved and everyone’s money remained intact, the negative reactions continued to pour in.
“On social media, negative comments are blown out of proportion,” explained Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines CEO Donald Lim. “Social media has become a venue where people can rant and say nasty things, and when negative messages spread, it could cause a false sense of paranoia, or worse, form a mob mentality.”
He said that, given the nature of the banking business that requires utmost precision, social media could be a harsh and negative space for financial institutions.
“The public expects banks to do no wrong, so if a bank commits even the slightest error, it’s immediately bashed on social media,” Lim said.
Amid the rancor are (a few) positive posts that stand out like gems. While the error was still being resolved and BPI had to temporarily deactivate its electronic channels, the bank remained responsive, continuously assuring clients on social media of the security of their funds, giving updates on progress near resolution, and announced the extension of banking hours to accommodate transactions in branches going into the long holiday weekend.
“BPI did very well in communicating to clients,” Lim said. “They responded neither too late nor too quickly, followed the standard protocol in communicating to clients during an issue, and assured them that the error would be fixed soon.”
The positive posts, which also received their fair number of reactions and shares, appeared to have been composed with more care and thought, and showed genuine empathy and connection for the bank tellers and branch personnel who worked hard beyond the call of duty to compensate for the system error. On the other hand, the negative ones spread with higher velocity and further fueled the anger, which quickly spilled out onto the real world.
This incident is further illustration that kindness has become a lacking currency on social media, thus, the greater need for positive contagion. That may be wishful thinking though, but who knows? — Daxim L. Lucas
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