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September 23, 2019

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Digital marketing emerges as a key player

The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry is growing apace with China’s economy. Here, two hotel general managers reveal the challenges and rewards posed by this and other trends.

1 How would you assess China’s MICE market? How is your property performing?

Paul Rene Lee: China’s MICE market has been growing and developing very well over the years. As businesses in China mature, and trade within China and with the world grows, MICE businesses grow in tandem. Raffles Hainan is perfectly poised to take advantage of this trend as we have extensive MICE facilities, rooms and recreation facilities to meet every need. As people and the market become more sophisticated and more worldly, they see the true value in a MICE resort such as Raffles Hainan and all it has to offer.

Dexter Cheng: Suzhou is an economic, industrial and commercial, foreign trade and logistics center in Jiangsu Province. It is also a famous historic and cultural city. As an important scenic tourist destination in China, the city receives about 70 million domestic tourists each year. Moreover, Jinji Lake commercial circle where Shangri-La Hotel Suzhou, Yuanqu is located represents the most emerging commercial hub in Suzhou.

Being part of an integrated commercial complex, Shangri-La Hotel, Suzhou Yuanqu offers comprehensive meeting and banquet facilities, including two pillar-less dividable ballrooms of around 1,000 square meters and 384 square meters in size, respectively, seven multi-function spaces and one boardroom, all of which are equipped with state-of-the-art lighting, audio and video systems.

2 More and more hotels are trying to provide exceptional services and create memorable brand experiences to pamper their guests and distinguish themselves from the competition. What’s the strength of your brand and how do you differentiate yourself from other counterparts?

Paul Rene Lee: Raffles Hainan, like every Raffles hotel, is known for its legendary service. The butler service and overall guest-focused attention stand out very strongly over and above the competition. Also at Raffles Hainan, the creativity of the team and the exceeding of guest expectations combined make stays consistently memorable. Each guest is treated as an individual with unique needs and desires, and our goal every time is to exceed these expectations for each and every one of them.

Dexter Cheng: We are honored to launch our new Shangri-La hotel in the vibrant Suzhou Industrial Park. We will create an oasis for guests to rest by, combining traditional local culture with modern colorful styles, fully reflecting SIP’s integration features to create a new charming landmark. Our brilliant staff members are all committed to bringing the excellent Shangri-La service to all our guests.

3 What do you think the Internet-plus economy will bring to the hospitality industry? Do you use any social media to approach your guests?

Paul Rene Lee: The digital age to me signifies free information flow and ease of transactions. Therefore hotels have to gain from having the end users book their rooms so easily and seamlessly. Social media also plays a strong role in swaying potential guests’ preference and expectations of a hotel. We do have our social media strategies and actions and are very active on this front. For example our TripAdvisor score is amongst the top in our category!

Dexter Cheng: Digital marketing for hotels is becoming increasingly complex. Hotel managers not only need to provide services to guests and manage rooms, but are now also expected to compete for guests in new channels and digital communities that emerge every day. Hence, our hotel is very active in digital marketing. From digital ads to one-off influencer marketing campaigns, we use multiple tactics within a strategy for engaging our current and potential customers. More and more guests use one or more social networking platforms during their search, shop and purchase process, so it is critical for us to manage TripAdvisor ratings, have a professional-looking presence on websites and apps, and allow guests to engage on WeChat.

4 General manager is the person
who is in charge of providing strategic direction for the hotel and overseeing daily operations. What do you think is the most important trait or skill of a successful general manger? Could you give us an example of the most cheerful or stressful situation you have ever experienced?

Paul Rene Lee: I do think there are a few traits that are very important for a hotel general manager. He has to know the business well and be well informed of trends and market conditions and be a decisive leader, both in market decisions and creativity in guest offerings. He must also hire the right leaders for the right roles and not only lead them but also be with them in the thick of each situation. Being both strategic and detail oriented and hands-on is vital.

The industry and the job are one of the toughest that one can encounter. It’s a 24/7 operation and there are a lot of dynamics in running a hotel. Our ultimate goal is to run a profitable business by firstly taking care of our guests and exceeding their expectations daily. One of the most cheerful experience I had was when one guest’s daughter took more than four hours to draw a caricature of me and told me that Raffles Hainan is her favorite resort and that I was her favorite GM! That made my job and effort so worth it! Its moments like these are, you know, that you are doing what it takes to bring a sparkle and a memorable experience to your guests’ stay at your hotel. That is what it is all about.

Dexter Cheng: Besides having a good business sense, I believe that the modern-day general manager must have good eyes for talent. In our current industry we are at a constant search for good talent. As you may know a great hotel is made up of a great team therefore a general manager needs to assemble a talent pool that can deliver the right guest experience consistently. I am a keen believer of working along with the team and spending more time around the hotel during busy period to really understand our guests and this is a great opportunity to engage with them, also to observe how our team works. By doing these you will understand and spot potential talent that we can groom as future leaders for our hotel and our group.


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