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Gentle Persuasion

• Executive Director of Regional Premium Account Management, Marina Bay Sands

Elaine Ho is a diplomat and a detective, a strategist and a psychologist, a counselor and occasionally a confessor.

Ho is executive director of regional premium account management-Asia at Marina Bay Sands—in other words, a bill collector.

In most cases, Ho uses tact and finesse to get past-due high-value clients to pay up.

“My boss taught me that people need to feel good about paying you,” says Ho, who’s based in Singapore and also oversees collections in Macau.

“I didn’t understand it at first, but it’s so true. This may be a returning customer who’s having a down time. He may want you to understand and listen to his problems.

Six months down the road, when he’s happy, he remembers you. He remembers that even though he owed you money, you didn’t treat him like a criminal.”

Born in Malaysia and educated in the U.K., Ho is a former barrister who joined MBS as part of the legal team.

Five years later, at the urging of Christopher Melton, senior VP of global collections for the Las Vegas Sands Corp., she took “a giant leap of faith” to cross over to the casino side.

She’s become an expert at the sensitive, cross-cultural relationship-building that’s critical to her job.

“Different patrons of different nationalities in different jurisdictions require different approaches.

Chinese patrons, for example, will talk to you about the balance they owe, but it can be very difficult when it comes to funds transfers (from China).

Gentle Persuasion Elaine Ho Then we have Japanese patrons.

I learned you have to go to dinner with those patrons and not talk about the debt. And they will somehow pay some of the balance.”

She recalls one customer in financial straits who described himself to her as “a wounded dragon,” but promised he would make good when he was able.

With tact and understanding, Ho was able to retain that patron’s long-term loyalty.

Gentle Persuasion Elaine Ho “He thanked me for my patience,” she says. Legal action is a last resort.

“Many of these patrons are high-caliber,” says Ho. “Some are rich and famous.

If you sue, the casino doesn’t look good. Most of the time if you call them, you find they overlooked the balance, or were unhappy about something—a misunderstanding with a host or a bad F&B experience.”

Ho calls the MBS legal department her university, and its executives her mentors.

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