Editor’s note: This is the first story in a series featuring everyday heroes of Guam’s visitor industry.
When Soo Yang, a sales and marketing coordinator at the Dusit Thani Guam Resort, won the award for Håfa Adai Spirit at the 2019 Hospitality Employees aRe Outstanding (HERO) Awards, she was not expecting it.
"When my name was called, I was like, 'No way,'" she said. “I was overwhelmed.”
Yang began her career in the tourism industry working at the front desk of the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa and said her experience there helped with her transition to the Dusit Thani.
“I’m much more flexible in terms of communication with the whole team,” she said.
A graduate of Saint Paul Christian School, Yang, 27, grew up on Guam and said knowledge of the island has helped her in her career.
“Being in this position, I have the privilege to talk about Guam,” she said.
With fluent proficiency in Hangul, the official language of Korea, Yang has been assisting Korean visitors at the Dusit Thani since February 2017.
"I do everything, from coordinating their schedule to checking them in here and their events and pretty much everything," she said.
'I just jumped in'
Yang was tested this spring when she was tasked with an important and unexpected duty.
A guest at the hotel had suddenly fallen ill and was unable to breathe. Her husband rushed her to get medical treatment and Yang stepped in to care for their 2-year-old daughter.
"I just jumped in. I had no idea what was going on," she said.
Yang was able to keep the child comfortable and distracted for several hours while her parents were gone.
The mother recovered and was very grateful for Yang’s help when she was reunited with her daughter.
“The mom and dad, they were very, very thankful, and I was just glad I was able to be there,” Yang said.
Yang said her favorite part of her job is interacting with people who bring business to the island.
"For me, to be able to communicate with them and talk about Guam and really bring in ideas of what to do to make it better for the industry, that is the best part of working in this field,” she said.
While Yang received recognition for her exemplary contribution to promoting the håfa adai spirit, she said she was honored to be among so many talented employees.
“Because the hospitality field is the main industry here on Guam, and for everyone to be in the same place and to be able to congratulate one another, I feel like it’s a really good opportunity and it really does drive people to do better,” she said.