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Delivering a memorable experience

THE Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao's general manager Brice Péan envisions a bright future as the government has big plans for the Hongqiao area. He also says his most important job is to build a great team because this leads to satisfied guests, writes Xu Wei.

The Shanghai government and China's Ministry of Commerce have decided to build a new exhibition center in Hongqiao area, positioning the area as more than a transport hub and a high-level commercial area.

According to Brice Péan, general manager at Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao, the project will help Shanghai become a leading international trading center and provide new strategic opportunities for the hotel.

"I think it's a great and absolutely fantastic opportunity for both the Hongqiao area and our hotel," Péan says. "The project is still in the beginning, and I think it will take some time, probably three to four years. But it definitely will bring more interest and business to this part of the city."

Amidst the high-grade Hongqiao residential area, the Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao is surrounded by stylish shopping malls and entertainment facilities.

The hotel boasts a convenient connection with the airport and the city's downtown areas. It is only a 15-minute drive from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. There are also several Metro stations within a short walk or drive of the hotel's front door.

Since opening in 2010, the hotel has been hailed by many customers, especially business travelers.

"I don't think we just provide service," Péan adds. "We deliver an experience. To some extent, service sounds trivial. Only when it is combined with emotional factors will people talk about it and remember it. We try to offer people a wonderful and memorable experience."

Péan and his team's efforts are working. Numerous guests have left flattering comments at the hotel and on the Internet, adding that they can't wait to return. They can clearly remember the hotel's rooms, fast check-in, huge lobby with a pleasant scent and the many great restaurant and nightlife options within walking distance of the property.

"We have three towers; we're very fortunate to have a lot of space and everything is very large," says Péan. "We have the largest ballroom (1,706 square meters) in the Puxi area. We're proud to give our customers lots of space and a pleasant impression."

The hotel works hard to ensure business travelers feel pampered and refreshed during their stay, as if they are on a holiday.

After a day's hard work or for a stimulating start to the day, guests can head to 1116 Fitness & Spa. Swim a few laps in the heated pool, show your opponent who's boss on the tennis court, burn some calories on the treadmill, or vent your frustration in the boxing room. Then relax in the sauna, steam room or Jacuzzi before having a relaxing massage in the spa. Golf enthusiasts with a little more time to spare will be pleased to know there is a nine-hole golf course across the road from the hotel.

Another hotel highlight is its pioneering self-assistance software system, which works very well for international customers.

With the help of the system, conference planners can simply go online to select the type of space required, input the number of participants and any other special needs. The system then automatically generates the best seating mode and displays various options for the planner to make the most suitable booking. A team of professional conference service personnel is also ready to offer planners one-on-one service whenever required.

Later this month, Yue Xuan restaurant is expected to open. Chef Ye Wen-chian has created a superb menu of authentic Cantonese delicacies to satisfy the most discerning diners.

Péan is a hospitality industry veteran who has been with the Hilton for more than a decade and he has worked in some of the world's most exclusive hotels. Over the past 18 months, Péan has introduced the staff to a unique perspective on hotel operations.

"The hotel never stops," he says. "We must develop something new and always have creative ideas to keep things interesting and exciting. In fact we were just thinking about what we can do with the garden outside. It could be a fantastic barbecue area."

Péan also plans to add more entertainment and interactive cultural events. For instance, a Malaysian food festival is now being held in the hotel. Award-winning chefs from the Hilton Kuala Lumpur have been flown in to showcase the country's cuisine.

In his opinion there is only one way to make a hotel successful - with good people. The right people in the right place makes for a good team. Building a good team is also the most important thing a general manager can do in creating a successful hotel, he says.

To him the most satisfying thing is to see guests smile, knowing they had a great time and would come back.

Péan acknowledges that adjusting to a new place with different customs and rules and communicating with so many different people can take some time. But he says he considers this an exciting experience and not some sort of obstacle that has to be overcome.

Péan spends his leisure time with his family and playing golf. He considers Shanghai an exciting city.

"Most of my life I have lived in big cities, so I am not afraid of the big city. I enjoy big cities," he says, smiling. "I think Shanghai is a great mixture of history and modernity. I am amazed at the huge contrast between Pudong and Puxi."


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