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July 8, 2011

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Passionate German, global citizen

NOT many teenagers have a clear idea about what kind of job they may want to do when they grow up, but Florian Heiner, general manager of Regal Plaza Hotel & Residence, is surely one of the lucky guys who had the answer even before he was supposed to start thinking seriously about it.

Heiner, an international travel enthusiast since high school, made up his mind after a trip during his teenage years that a global hotelier's job was perhaps what he would like to pursue as a career.

"I had the customer experience while staying with various hotel brands for the first time and had my eyes wide opened," recalls Heiner, who has now spent more than 18 years in the global hotel industry with experience across three continents. "It suddenly made an impact on me that the hotel career could be a perfect one for me as it allowed me to travel, to live abroad, to engage different cultures, to get inspired in exotic and emerging countries and to meet interesting talent from everywhere in the world."

Starting his professional training at Steigenberger Hotel Berlin and St Regis New York, Heiner has always been a "hands on" team player right from the start of his career and consistently drives a "can do" approach. He sees the essential needs as a senior executive of getting the entire picture and to simplify complexity in a work place for rational and responsible decision-making in fast paced competitive business environments.

In April, Heiner opened the upscale Regal Plaza Hotel & Residence which is located in the center of the country's largest free trade zone - Waigaoqiao in Pudong. Some added-value offers including complimentary transportation for long-term corporate accounts as well as complimentary minibars and Wi-Fi access have received very enthusiastic feedback from business travelers.

"These kinds of services actually don't cost us much but it really differentiates us from other competitors by offering a more home-like feel and easy-to-do business," says Heiner. "Every hotel needs to find its individual niche and competitive advantage to survive in cities like Shanghai where supply is abundant and competition is fierce. For us, the niche is the specific location with the relevant business segmentations as corporate MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) contributes about 75 percent of our business."

Located in the trade zone, shipping port and supply chain center of Shanghai, the hotel has a strategic location in the heart of Waigaoqiao surrounded by multinational and top Fortune enterprises.

The Regal Plaza Hotel & Residence offers extraordinary spacious guestrooms and suite-style apartments with an average size exceeding 60 square meters. Focusing on long-term corporate clients, 171 out of its total inventory of 282 guestrooms are large apartment-style suites including full kitchens, DVD players with large LCD TVs and iPod stations.

Heiner thinks the most challenging task as a hotel general manager is in basically two key respects. "In hotel operations, it is interesting and challenging to deal with people with all types of characters and different cultural and educational backgrounds because in most cases, you need to be able to engage and communicate well with different mindsets at the same time in order to get things done properly."

As a hotel general manager, Heiner also says "it is very essential to understand and to be highly effective in communication and to be successful in negotiations between owners in principle needs for short-term ROI (return on investment) output and hotel management group interests to gain market share, brand integrity, perception and long-term business success, development and expansion."

A challenge-taker with ambition, Heiner loves what he is doing.

"I do enjoy leading people and influencing them positively as encouraging and empowering them to make things happen," he says. "I also enjoy the feedback that our employees give to me after I have built them an excellent development platform and to help them exceed to the next level of their career."

Passionate and energetic, Heiner likes to balance his busy hotel life by spending weekends discovering new fine dining spots and restaurants in Shanghai with his wife and playing golf and tennis, fantastic sports which offers him a perfect escape from daily work pressures to find balance and relaxation in order to recharge.


2010 ~ present: Regal International Hotel Group General manager of Regal Plaza Hotel & Residence; group director of projects of Regal International Hotel Management

2010:International Executive MBAgraduate from Rutgers, State University of New Jersey in Shanghai

2006 ~ 2010: Wyndham Hotels GroupGeneral manager of Ramada Plaza Pudong Shanghai; general manager of Howard Johnson Hotel Zhangjiang, Shanghai; resident manager of Howard Johnson Plaza Shanghai

2003 ~ 2006: BangkokDirector of Rooms Division of Dusit Thani Bangkok, Dusit International Hotels & Resorts

1999~2003: SingaporeFront office manager and corporate sales manager of Orchard Hotel Singapore, Millennium & Copthorne International Limited

1995~1999: New York City Assistant front office manager of Lexington Radisson East Side New York, Carlson Hotels Worldwide; assistant manager and guest relations manager of Hotel Plaza Athenee New York, Rocco Forte Hotels


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