Welcome, China

Hil­ton World­wide’s Rob Palleschi, Global Head, full ser­vice brands and

Business Traveler (USA) - - UPFRONT -

Hil­ton is ac­tively tar­get­ing the Chi­nese in­bound travel mar­ket with its Huanying pro­gram, al­ready avail­able at 113 ho­tels in 32 coun­tries. Tell us more about that.

PALLESCHI: The word Huanying is de­rived from the Chi­nese word for welcome. In the past few years, many Chi­nese trav­el­ers – more than 50 per­cent – are book­ing a ho­tel with­out a tour guide. This means trav­el­ers are on the road in­de­pen­dently, and Hil­ton wants to meet the needs of the world’s cur­rent largest out­bound travel group.

BT: What can a Chi­nese guest ex­pect in a Huanying pro­gram ho­tel?

SCOFIELD: At check-in Chi­nese trav­el­ers re­ceive a welcome note in sim­pli­fied Chi­nese. They’re pro­vided ac­cess to a 24-hour Man­darin in­ter­pre­ta­tion ser­vice, and many prop­er­ties have Man­darin-speak­ing team mem­bers as well. In the room, they will find tea ket­tles with jas­mine tea, slip­pers and a ded­i­cated Man­darin tele­vi­sion chan­nel. A Chi­nese break­fast buf­fet in the res­tau­rant in­cludes two va­ri­eties of con­gee with condi­ments, fried rice or noo­dles, a se­lec­tion of dim sum, soy milk, and ap­pro­pri­ate ser­vice items.

BT: What ho­tels are par­tic­i­pat­ing?

PALLESCHI: In our global

port­fo­lio, ho­tels that are part of the pro­gram in­clude Hil­ton Ho­tels & Re­sorts, Dou­bleTree by Hil­ton, Con­rad Ho­tels & Re­sorts, and Wal­dorf As­to­ria Ho­tels & Re­sorts in ma­jor cities like San Fran­cisco, Lon­don, Tokyo, Seoul, and NewYork, plus a num­ber of air­port prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing the Hil­tons at Chicago O’Hare, Lon­don Gatwick, Heathrow, and Van­cou­ver air­ports.

BT: How are ho­tels cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate?

PALLESCHI: It is im­por­tant that we look at ho­tels that are com­mer­cially vi­able for the pro­gram, mean­ing where Chi­nese trav­el­ers are al­ready vis­it­ing. Other ho­tels are choos­ing to opt in as well. There is a small cost in­volved for the ho­tel to in­sure that they can pro­vide the in-room ameni­ties, but the Chi­nese trav­el­ers does not pay any­thing more to par­tic­i­pate.

BT: Is Huanying at­tract­ing more Chi­nese trav­el­ers?

PALLESCHI: Yes. The San Fran­cisco mar­ket alone has seen a 22 per­cent in­crease in in­bound Chi­nese trav­el­ers vis­it­ing Hil­ton prop­er­ties thanks to new non­stop flights from Chengdu and Guangzhou. Among all Huanying-par­tic­i­pat­ing ho­tels, the Hil­ton World­wide brand has seen a 15.3 per­cent year over year growth in Chi­nese visi­tors.

BT: How does the ho­tel know a trav­eler fits the pro­file for the Huanying ex­pe­ri­ence?

SCOFIELD: It is based

on their home ad­dress reg­is­tered with the book­ing. While a guest can re­quest Huanying ser­vices, the goal is to au­to­mat­i­cally rec­og­nize Chi­nese trav­el­ers that would ap­pre­ci­ate the ameni­ties.

BT: How do Hil­ton prop­er­ties pre­pare to in­tro­duce the Huanying pro­gram?

SCOFIELD: We have in­ter­nal ed­u­ca­tion plat­forms in­clud­ing Hil­ton World­wide Univer­sity. Each depart­ment has their own spe­cific train­ing cour­ses. For ex­am­ple, the front desk is ed­u­cated about spe­cific sen­si­tiv­i­ties such as the num­ber four hav­ing a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion. We try to avoid plac­ing Chi­nese guests on the fourth floor or in any room with a four in it.

BT: Be­sides the large num­ber of trav­el­ers, why is Hil­ton putting such an em­pha­sis on at­tract­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket?

SCOFIELD: Ac­cord­ing to re­cent sur­veys, Chi­nese trav­el­ers have named Hil­ton the most as­pi­ra­tional ho­tel brand in the mar­ket. In ad­di­tion, re­cent changes to the visa pol­icy for in­bound Chi­nese trav­el­ers com­ing to the US will change the land­scape for the do­mes­tic ho­tel mar­ket. Hil­ton World­wide also has the largest pipeline of ho­tels in the Chi­nese mar­ket, which is what adds to the Chi­nese trav­eler’s fa­mil­iar­ity with our brand.

Rob Palleschi

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