HK-based firm dat­ing back to 1865 has 10 prop­er­ties in de­vel­op­ment pipe­line for the main­land

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HOSPITALITY - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com .cn

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.

CULI­NARY DE­LIGHT

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.

LAUNCH

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.

SUM­MER CAMP

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

PRO­MO­TION

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.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Cordis Shang­hai Hongqiao is part of Lang­ham Hos­pi­tal­ity Group. Si­mon Manning, vice-pres­i­dent of Lang­ham Hos­pi­tal­ity Group’s sales and mar­ket­ing of Lang­ham

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