Opening a Hotel in China: Are the Holidays here? - Insights

Opening a Hotel in China: Are the Holidays here?

By Feature Writer Yoland Perras


HOE and IT Budgets are now on the way for final approval in the upper echelon of my Owning Company which, as you can imagine, a big relief and a major step forward. But not yet approved for final release.

POB is the only remaining one which needs more input and adjustments. More explanations on "What is maintenance? Why transportation costs? What is the salary scale in the city? How about this trial period cost?"and more.  

My Owning Company is learning what it means to open a "Hotel". As such I often have to clearly explain and argue the intricacies of our business. I am clearly just at the beginning of doing this exercise.

When opening a new property, tasks are quickly ramping up. Month number 6 starts the excitement and the nervousness. Month 5 see you pushing for quick approval as lead times are in sight. Month 4 will see mass recruitment completed and hiring dates confirmed. Now your blood pressure is slowly increasing. When I finally get to these points, I will share more insight.

As it happens you need to decide and implement at a faster pace. There is a need in Hospitality to quickly react while making sound decision. There is no place in our work for a "wait and see" approach. It is crucial that I help my Owning Company understand fully the working habits of our business.

I need to speed up the process of approval and understanding if not I will have many unwanted and unnecessary challenges once the team joins the process.

I have so far used patience and diplomacy. I now add to these ingredients some firmness by giving specific deadlines.

XCOM Arrival

I am now preparing for the arrival of my first Executive Committee Members. Office, computer, internet lines, Company info, apartments, welcome information kit about their new city, subway information, some basic necessities and more.

Are the Holidays here?

Being that I am in pre-opening, the Holiday feelings and preparation are lacking. China is not like in many places around the world where you decorate offices and homes. In many cities outside China, most have decorations along the routes, in shopping malls while families have selected or are in the process of, their precious Christmas tree. In China, little Holiday decoration can be seen other than Shopping Centers and 5 star Hotels. In well known cities such as Shanghai and Beijing you will have a better feeling however in secondary cities such as Wuhan, it is much less.

One thing is certain, I need to prepare THE Holidays and select gifts for my kids and family. My 6 year old son does know about that tradition and the Santa coming from the north. And he is reminding me.

Most of you have finalized your Holiday program. December 24th in most countries will be spent with your children and family. If you remember, last year I wrote that this is China biggest Western holiday night. People flock to restaurants and ballrooms to be entertained, well fed but most importantly to win a "Lucky Draw". These can range from the newest iPad or iPhone, the coolest perfume, ladies handbag, meals, hotels stay, flight tickets and in some cases the biggest "Lucky Draw" being a Car.

Guests will stroll along elaborate buffet where seafood, barbecue, fresh noodles, chocolate, sweets and lots more are creatively showcased. Guests will also be treated to Magic show, dance display, acrobats, and famous yet often retired singers.

No matter what happen, whether you win or not, you will get a bag full of goodies such as bottle of wine, cakes, chocolates, hand cream and more. The rules are to have a bountiful food selection, an energetic non-stop entertainment program and most of all no one leaving empty handed.

Prices per person can vary from low US $300 to high US $500. The final pricing is conditional of the quality of your Lucky Draw items and level of entertainment.

I remember the Christmas I organized in Benin Africa where's "Santa" was a local paramilitary parachutist Captain who took great pride in coming down from his helicopter to entertain the kids from all nations. I also remember dressing up one of my Chinese Associates in Santa Claus and do a tour of the city with an open-top 7 seater in the cold of winter. Kids along the route were so happy to get candies and treats. 

This year I do not have to prepare, organize, follow-up, get nervous, be uptight, getting tense, entertain, and sell. This Christmas season will be spent with family and mentally preparing for the next step of my journey to open my new property.

Yoland Perras
General Manager
Sheraton Wuhan Hankou Hotel

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