Year 2014 is finally in full swing in Asia, and it brings me new hope and goals. This is the year that we, the team, will open our new property.
The New Year saw the arrival of key non-operational Associates. It was nice to see the new faces and their desire to shape their future with a challenging experience in a new environment and with new colleagues for the coming months.
I most enjoyed that they, like me, are willing to take risk to achieve and be part of a common goal.
As I mentioned to them on their first day and by extension my first official morning meeting, they are the key to the successes of the new property and their responsibility is bigger than the role that they have been hired for. They need to be role models, show inspiration, create teamwork, not only for their department, but for the hotel as a whole.
When working an opening, the departmental structure is the same as an operational property, yet each role is bigger as you are setting the tone for the future of the property. Working as a team takes on a bigger meaning and each member will need to help each other in order to succeed. They will need to know more than their departmental areas so they can guide all Associates when they come on board.
My role is to ensure that they fully understand and implement this philosophy starting from their first day on board.
In China, hiring has 3 different Associate components:
This level brings on board Associates from outside China. For these, you need employment certificates, school credentials as well as an extensive medical check. In some provinces or cities a Criminal Check may be required. If all is accepted by local hiring authorities, an invitation letter will then be issued so the candidate can go to his/her respective Chinese Embassy and collect an entry visa that will then be changed into a work visa when he/she re-enters China. Such a working visa needs to be renewed each year. It should be noted that the number of expats is becoming smaller as more nationals become well trained and experienced in all sectors of activities of the hotel. Still, a good mix between expats and nationals is beneficial and provides for better internationalization of the property.
This level is for Chinese Associates who live outside the city you are hiring from. In these cases, residency and ID cards or citizenship are all they need. Much like Expats, you would select a National Expat based on skills, loyalty, stability and, in my case, pre-opening experience. Many National Expats move every year for the simple reason of higher wages as the number of opportunities are many. As a result, their loyalty is minimal and focus even less. As I have mentioned in previous writing, choosing wisely is extremely important even in desperate situations where no candidate seems available.
This is level is self explanatory. Experienced locals now have more opportunities to work in their respective cities as more hotels continue to open offering a wider choice.
I have been able to create a good mix of the above with National Expats returning to their hometown as locals, now with an increase sense of knowledge and pride in their past assignments.
As most key executives will be on board by the end of the 2nd month of 2014, we will move ahead with all operational tasks, food & beverage concepts, suppliers, heart of the house equipment, trainings, systems implementation and much more.
I will concentrate on more critical path issues and less on technical changes. Having divided the hotel into two parts, operational will be overseen by my Hotel Manager while the supporting departments will be in my hands.
Operational departments are:
Food & Beverage
In addition, the Hotel Manager will oversee Engineering.
Supporting departments are:
Finance including all the legal issues and licenses
Sales & Marketing
Security & Safety
About the author
Yoland Perras is the General Manager at the Sheraton Wuhan Hankou Hotel. His series of articles brings ehotelier readers a first-hand account of what it's like opening a hotel in China.