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June 24, 2011

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Aiming to hit all targets

EVERY three weeks, Joseph W.Y. Chong, general manager of The Peninsula Shanghai, will go to an indoor archery range close to the No. 1 Yaohan Nextage Department Store in the Pudong New Area to shoot at least 100 arrows for exercise.

Chong, a Malaysian Chinese native and a member of Royal Perak Archers & Shooters Club, said he has detected something in common between his long-time sporting hobby and his profession in hotel management.

òI feel that the bow is the structure of the hotel management whereas the arrows are the employees as the bow drives the arrows to the target,ó said Chong, who first started his hospitality career in the front office at The Regent Kuala Lumpur in 1989.

òIn archery, it takes a lot of consistency and persistency and they are the same elements of discipline and attitude that I apply in managing a hotel as well. In many respects and to a small percentage, archery technique is part of my management technique.ó

Joining The Peninsula Shanghai as a hotel manager in January 2009 since the very early stages of its opening and taking up his latest role a few months ago, Chong, now an 11-year veteran with the chain, said the way the company has been doing its business over the past eight decades does render it a unique identity among the world?s leading hotels.

òPeninsula is a very small company with only nine hotels opening since the 1920s which speaks for itself that fast expansion of hotels has never been its target,ó he said. òAt Peninsula, it remains our priority to selectively open properties in trophy cities that we believe are a gateway for tourism.ó

To be different from most of the world?s hotel groups, Peninsula owns and manages every one of its properties around the world.

And the philosophy is just as simple: Full control of the hotel will allow the company to be always consistent with its quality, in terms of both luxurious product and personalized service.

The unique approach does pay off. In the local example, about 13 percent of the guests at The Peninsula Shanghai, a hotel with 235 rooms and suites which has been officially open for only 20 months, are returned customers. Globally, returned guests account for about 28 percent of all Peninsula customers, according to Chong.

While improving customer loyalty remains an all-time goal for Chong, keeping the momentum and morale of the hotel staff is certainly another equally challenging one, particularly in Shanghai where new luxury hotels open so frequently that it always takes huge effort to acquire well-trained and qualified staff.

Among others, a very special, family-oriented training program has received particularly warm feedback from the hotel?s more than 500 staff.

òWe are one of the only hotels in the city that opens some of our programs to family members of our staff to participate,ó Chong said. òWhat is also special about our program is that we just do not concentrate on a classroom style of training but also have a lot of skills and activities incorporated to create a balance in the entire training program.ó

On top of that is the Kids Club held on Saturdays, during which children of the staff are invited for various activities, as well as a program called Learn and Enjoy, organized once a week or once every two weeks, where a wide range of fun-provoking skills training such as floral decoration, spa therapy, pastry making or cookie decoration are selectively offered.

From a family of government servants, Chong, who once dreamed of pursuing in the same footsteps with a personal wish to become a pilot in the air force, said he does enjoy his hotelier?s job after spending more than two decades in the industry though it was never a choice by preference but one of the only options that was available to him.

òEvery day is so different and I?ve got a really big family to look after ? both my staff and the customers,ó he said. òI?ve always wanted to be in uniform and have a very consistent approach with life and the hotel is just a strict and consistent place.ó Best Deals

When reserving the Suite Shanghai from now until September 30, guests enjoy benefits including: a bottle of The Peninsula Majestic Red Wine on arrival; daily American breakfast or room service breakfast for two; round-trip airport transfers by Rolls-Royce; afternoon tea at The Lobby for two; complimentary in-room Internet access; complimentary VOIP IDD calls; free access to fitness center and swimming pool. Suite Shanghai promotional prices range from 7,200 yuan* (US$1,113) for an Executive Suite to 10,300 yuan* for a Deluxe River Suite and 16,500 yuan* for a Grand Deluxe River Suite (*All room rates subject to 15 percent surcharge per room per night). Underlooked Perks

The Peninsula Shanghai offers the best of Peninsula traditions and a range of signature services and facilities, including Shanghai?s largest guestrooms and the city?s highest staff-to-guest ratio. The Peninsula Shanghai offers 235 supremely comfortable rooms and suites blending traditional Peninsula standards of luxury and state-of-art technology with historical references in a stylish, glamorous setting, together with breathtaking views of the Bund and the gardens of the former British Consulate. Favorite Dish

As part of the world-renowned Peninsula Hotels, it is natural for The Peninsula Shanghai to offer the same beautiful ritual of the traditional British afternoon tea that is enjoyed by guests at other Peninsula hotels around the world.

2010 ~ presentGeneral manager of The Peninsula Shanghai

2009 ~ 2010Hotel manager of The Peninsula Shanghai

2007 ~ 2009Resident manager of The Peninsula Bangkok

2005 ~ 2007Executive assistant manager of rooms of The Peninsula Beijing

2000 ~ 2005Director of rooms of The Peninsula Beijing

1988 ~ 2000 Four Season Hotels


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