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March 18, 2019

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Future management in a changing market

THE general managers of three of domestic finest hotels explain how their establishments are adapting to changes
in China’s MICE market. With companies increasingly tightening budgets they have to think proactively about how
to retain customers and attract new business in what has become a lucrative market. The latest technology and
increased use of social media are all valuable tools to add to the existing advantages of the finest venues and facilities.

1 How would you assess China’s MICE market? What about the performance of your property?

Nikolaos Chatzipetros: There are many opportunities in the Chinese market. A vast variety of exhibitions, incentive tours and meetings of multinational enterprises have promoted the development of MICE. However, as far as economic trends are concerned, the overall picture is not optimistic, and many enterprises have reduced their budgets in this regard.

Our hotel has very good MICE facilities. It features 190 luxury guestrooms including 13 uniquely designed suites, ranging from 45 to 288 square meters, with stunning views of the Bund, Huangpu River, the Pudong skyline and the ancient Yuyuan Garden. Wanda Reign on the Bund provides the quintessential luxury location of choice to impress. With an unobstructed 180-degree view of the Pudong skyline and the Huangpu River, the 720-square-meter pillar-free Grand Ballroom is equipped with an 82-square-meter LED screen and state-of-the-art audio system. With an 8-meter-high ceiling, the Grand Ballroom can be divided into two banquet halls to accommodate functions of any size.

David Tseo: I believe China’s MICE market will continue to grow. As companies fine tune their services, I foresee companies focusing on training and development in the coming years. We have had a lot of luxury retail and consulting firms confirming MICE events geared toward staff development and customer service training. Chinese consumers are becoming more educated and firms are preparing those individuals during these training sessions. The hotel has confirmed a healthy number of leads for the past six months. However, group rates are lower than those in the past because companies have been resilient as they are tightening their budgets.

Henry Li: Regarding China’s MICE market, there are three points from my personal opinion:

A) From developing to maturity, and simplification to high-technology. Along with reform and opening-up, China has more and more venues, experienced MICE planners and high-technology support for different kinds of event, not only domestic ones, but they can also hold many international events.

B) With a one-stop-service, with high-technology, suppliers can display all their products and ideas or designs easily through different online channels, such as WeChat, VR or other online booking systems, and it’s also convenient for clients to find their expected venue anywhere and at anytime on the Internet.

C) Regarding our property, even though Hyatt Place is not the brand in the Hyatt group to target MICE or any big events, with our super location (in Sanya, Hainan Province), a unique meeting room with an all-city view and an ocean view, as the highest meeting space in the downtown, we are targeting more mini and small events such as office meetings, medium new products launches and training etc. There’s also the only rooftop bar and pool venue as an event place which is the highest function space in the city’s downtown area. We can hold many kinds of activities, such as a private party for any birthday, engagement, or any celebration, even some small wedding ceremonies, also some pool parties on our top floor with a city, mountain, river and sea view. Currently, we already hold many meetings and new product launch events. Since the hotel just opened during low season in Sanya, we will get more in the coming high season. Due to the location and young and modern brand of Hyatt, we believe we will have more MICE business.

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

Nikolaos Chatzipetros: Wanda Hotels and Resorts strives to be recognized as one of the world’s most valuable asset management companies with a core competency in the hotel business. This vision is translated in terms of integrated business resources driven by the preamble “people first,” caring for associates and a commitment to both customers and stakeholders.

For many large hotel chains, many of the experiences are fairly static, and seem to be the same no matter where you live. For us, we are a very independent luxury hotel. Whether it is the art of the hotel, the city view, or the high-tech technology in the guestrooms, we can meet the needs of guests and give them a refreshing feeling.

David Tseo: Andaz Xintiandi, Shanghai is the first of the Andaz brand to be launched in Asia. We have locations in Singapore, Delhi and Tokyo. We are planning to open more Andaz properties in China’s mainland. We offer a new concept in hospitality by its marvelous hotel services.

The Andaz name — “personal style” in Urdu — is driven by a philosophy that celebrates, respects and caters to a guest’s personal style and preferences in an atmosphere that fully embraces its locale. Andaz Xintiandi, Shanghai wants guests to be welcome at their “best friend’s home” in Shanghai.

Henry Li: A modern and fashion brand, meetings with a city, mountain, river and sea view, meetings in the sky in our rooftop bar, celebrations at the only venue on top of Sanya, and exclusive use of a pool party in the sky are our strengths. Plus the power of the Hyatt brand, we have sister support from the local Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt for any special events.

3 Someone said the next hospitality revolution is in the digital age. What do you think the Internet Plus economy will bring to the hospitality industry? Do you use social media to approach your guests?

Nikolaos Chatzipetros: First, we must understand what the market needs and expects, be it a young or mature segment. No matter what is online or offline, we must be very sensitive to the market, especially in Shanghai, a city that is trendy, international and fast moving. We need to pace ourselves to the needs of our guests and customers in this fast changing environment in order to meet their demands. Only by evolving with them can we provide satisfying and enriching experiences. We utilize social media tools to spread hotel happenings wider and faster.

David Tseo: The Internet Plus economy will produce an environment for the general public to make innovations in the digital age. Smartphones will continue to be an essential part to better engage consumers with the hospitality industry. This will be a dominant factor. Moving forward, the hospitality industry needs to exert more advances to cultivate different customer touch points in today’s digital world.

Social media plays an important part in the hospitality business in promoting business as it increases awareness, improves and maintains a high level of customer service, while communicating directly with guests. We use several platforms — WeChat, Weibo and TikTok — to extend our arms to our targeted audience with our messages.

Henry Li: Higher gross operating cost due to lower labor costs with multi-functional auto equipment or robots instead, making it more convenient for all meeting participants who can easily see and have a trial for any new products launch without flying to different places on business trips. Meanwhile, we do use a lot of social media definitely.

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

Nikolaos Chatzipetros: My experience is predominantly dealing with people of all cultures, races, colors and creeds. I serve people, work with people, and manage people. It is necessary to have the DNA of meeting and exceeding people’s expectations and satisfaction in a culturally diverse environment. What drove me to become a hotel general manager is the motivation to live life successfully and to position myself as a leader in the hospitality circuit, particularly representing China’s leading homegrown hotel brand, Wanda Hotels and Resorts. Motivation is the key to success whether at work or in personal life. I consider myself constantly motivated in all my dealings, which contributed to my becoming a hotel general manager.

David Tseo: I have always included passion in my leadership and management skills. It allows me to focus on relationships and collaboration with my colleagues and guests. Passion has been ingrained in my work ethic as I handle the day to day hotel operation. It also allows me exert my energy to establish team experiences to learn by working well together so we can all strive to provide better guest satisfaction.

I have so many stories that I could write a book about my experiences and I cannot pinpoint one. Overall, I enjoy coaching my employees and guiding them during difficult times so that they can eventually grow into a bigger role within the organization and in life.

Henry Li: In my personal opinion:

1. Caring for both internal or external guests who are our staff and real guests, plus the owners.

2. Giving clear directions to all team members, so they know where they should be going and what they should be doing.

3. Coaching in a positive and encouraging way. No one is perfect, so coaching people to learn and grow from their mistakes, while not criticizing or ignoring them.

4. Patience, be patient and kind to all your team members and customers. They are your family members and friends.

5. Responsibility, think about your responsibility to team members, customers and owners before making any decisions.

Most stressful is how to work as a good “bridge” between owners and management, such as when owners stresses some project which is not the standard of the management company. As GM, I try to have long conversations to find out the owners’ real needs, find the best solution and finally solve the issue from the owners’ side.


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