China hotels serve up demand
As hotel guests look for a less "commoditised" experience, while still expecting facilities and a design style that is both welcoming and refreshing, hotel operators are seeking for ways to connect with guests as traditional tastes evolve.
"You have to listen to your guests and provide them with a more relationship-driven experience which is personalised for them," says Symon Bridle, chief operating officer at New World Hospitality.
He says it is also important to note the way technology is being used to research brands. "Having your product correctly positioned in the digital space, with valid and easily searchable content, is extremely important," he says.
New World Hotels, one of New World Hospitality's hotel brands, places particular emphasis on China's secondary and tertiary cities. It has also announced projects in Beijing, Foshan, Langfang, Shenyang, Qingyuan, Guiyang, Haikou and Zhengzhou.
Ooi Lay Peng, vice-president of human resources at New World Hospitality, says that with eight projects in the pipeline, and more to be announced soon, the hotel group plans to hire up to 4,000 staff in the next few years.
Positions will cover a range of areas, including F&B, sales and marketing, rooms and operations, engineering, human resources, and finance. "We welcome anyone who is passionate about the hospitality industry to talk to us," she says.
Markland Blaiklock, senior vice-president of Sofitel Asia-Pacific, says the company has gone through a repositioning exercise as it focuses on growth in Asia, and in particular in China. "We are not focused on growth for the sake of growth, but rather for a more strategic approach."
Blaiklock adds that Sofitel has a strong presence in China, with 18 existing properties in key cities and an additional 10 hotels in the pipeline, mostly located in prime locations in provincial capitals.
Dirk-Jan Pieter Rijks, vice-president of human resources at Sofitel Asia-Pacific, says that to develop a pipeline of future talent, all Sofitel hotels in Asia have programmes in place to welcome trainees. Employees with the right attitude and passion to excel generally progress quickly in their career.
"Sofitel hotels have a lot of young middle managers and there is a strong focus on having a better balance between male and female general managers," he says.