HK-based firm dating back to 1865 has 10 properties in development pipeline for the mainland
Our industry is becoming homogenized, while luxury is all about services. It’s gonna show who are the true players left.”
In an industry where acquisitions and mergers are happening more frequently than ever, with the approach being adopted by some of the biggest players, Langham Hospitality Group, with a history dating back to 1865, believes in the power of being small.
Not that being “small” is keeping it from an aggressive expansion on the Chinese mainland, the world’s potentially largest market for luxury travel.
The Hong Kong-headquartered group has 10 properties in the development pipeline for the mainland in the next two to three years, almost doubling its presence in the market. Currently, it operates a total of 21 properties with more than 8,600 guestrooms worldwide, according to the company.
The 2015 merger of Marriott and Starwood, still one of the biggest events in the hospitality industry, actually “makes (the situation) easier for us,” said Simon Manning, vicepresident of the company’s sales and marketing of Langham.
“Our industr y is becoming homogenized, while luxury is all about services. It’s gonna show who are the true players left,” Manning said during an interview in Shanghai on Monday for the group’s annual general managers’ conference.
“I think true players can only be small players, purely due to economy and scale.”
Chinese consumers, in particular, care as greatly about services, and want one-of-a-kind experiences, as their Western counterparts, if not more.
Manning noted that the biggest change in China’s luxury travel market is that 10 years ago, travelers bought just about everything, and now, they have started to look at particular interests, such as wine tours in Napa Valley, or going to polar ice caps.
“Ten years ago, when a Chinese consumer said ‘I have been to Paris or London’, they got a wow. And now their friends might follow to ask where you stayed and why, and how the experience was before uttering a wow,” he said.
To take advantage of such changes, hospitality brands should grow well on the mainland so that Chinese travelers can pick them when they are away from home, he noted.
In early July, Dalian Wanda, China’s homegrown property and hospitality conglomerate, sold 76 of its hotels to Sunac, a Tianjin-based property developer, for 63.18 billion yuan ($9.29 billion).
Manning noted that the different approach adopted by Langham, running both as an ownership and management group, is also a winning edge for the company.
Nearly two-thirds of the company’s hotels worldwide are both owned and managed by the group, which has a portfolio of four brands — Langham, Langham Place, Cordis and Eaton.
“We are ver y for tunate that behind our company we have a very strong real estate business from the Great Eagle Group that supports our growth,” Manning said.
It not only helps the company to maintain all of its brands on a consistent level and standards, but also go to destinations such as Paris where there is little chance of picking up management contracts, as nothing has been built there, whereas the group gets to “build its own location”.
Manning saw the biggest challenge to stay ahead of the competition in China as “staffing”, since the company wants every one of its Chinese property to have a Chinese general manager.
“Our goal is to take our talents within our hotels now and grow them up by putting them through our programs so that they are ready to be our generation of leaders and we can go into tier two and three cities.” Daniel Ding has been appointed executive assistant manager of Wanda Reign Wuhan in Hubei province in Central China. Hotel Jen Shenyang by Shangri-La, together with Shangri-La Hotel Shenyang, is holding a warm-up event on Saturday for their respective anniversary celebrations. The event will start with a fully equipped cycling journey, leading participants to re-discover the capital of Northeast China’s Liaoning province. On the day, which has also been designated Hotel Jen Shenyang’s Community Day, guests will be treated to a series of anniversary experiences and enjoy dining and overnight stay privileges at the hotel.
Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts launched a culinary-themed event to refresh the memories of the TV documentary series hit, A bite of China, in Kunming, Yunnan province, in mid-May. The latest leg moved to Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, last week. The documentary’s director, Chen Xiaoqing, and food critics shared their insights into Chinese cuisines. The next leg will be in Xiamen, Fujian province.
The Four Seasons Hotel Beijing will launch its new social lounge Equis on Sunday to target premier guests, including businesspeople, celebrities and socialites. The 3,600-squaremeter area will comprise a bar counter, KTV rooms and outdoor squares, open from 5 pm to midnight every day. Four themed package rooms will be open to registered members, including one furnished with traditional red lamps and desks, and another decorated with bamboos and stone walls.
The Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay and The Shanhaitian Resort Sanya, Autograph Collection have organized their Kids Summer Camp that will last through Aug 30. Young participants can get involved in making handicrafts, drawing, cooking and field survival training. Another part of the program is a swimming camp, with professional coaching and an array of facilities. 0898-8821-1688
Fairmont Nanjing held a private gala dinner on Friday to share the secrets of its high standards on service. The hotel in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, which served as capital of several dynasties in ancient China, features a delicate balance of a historical touch and contemporary design.
Cordis Shanghai Hongqiao is part of Langham Hospitality Group. Simon Manning, vice-president of Langham Hospitality Group’s sales and marketing of Langham