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Opening a Hotel in China: Opportunities
By feature writer Yoland Perras
I report that progress on the “Critical Path” and the “Critical Opening date” has been slow. Much the same onsite. It is a little concerning however not yet “Critical”.
Regardless, I continue to follow-up with review of Floor plans, identification of room category, Suites, Accessible Rooms, Connecting rooms, elevators access for guests and Associates, Laundry, Engineering, Back of the House (BOH) Offices and most importantly “Interview” for the right candidates.
I strongly believe that knowing your product to better assist Guests and Associates is an important part of the pre-opening process. When you operate, you “visit” the BOH. When you do an opening, you mark the areas in your mind and travel like an Associate or Guest. You recognize the steps taken by Room Service to the Service Elevators, you stand by the empty counter of the uniform room and analyze the storage space of the Banquet facilities. Just love to do that.
According to the renderings that I just reviewed this week, we will have great BOH probably the best one I have had in years. Looks exciting and inviting but then I have to wait some months before seeing the final product and get the Associates to move in. I have located my Office, not too big but OK, with big windows overlooking the Hotel Entrance, close to the action.
I have not seen the daylight for the past 5 years plus. So it is a welcome sight.
Opportunities Then & Now
So much has changed since I came to China. Some 8 years ago, China had limited amount of hotels much less international branded one, meaning fewer choices for skilled Associates. Then, I was shocked in learning that families were being separated by distance due to the lack of opportunities. Father in one city, Mother in another one, while grandparents were raising and taking care of their grand kid, as in China, the one kid policy still apply. Divided by kilometers, they would see each other during National day week long holiday or Chinese New Year also known as Spring festival. Inconceivable to say the least yet they seem resigned to that fact and resilient in making it for the family. Moving out of their Home city also meant better salary and benefits.
Today, as more opportunities present themselves in their “Hometown” many families are reunited improving quality of family life for the kid, parents and grandparents. It is nice to see that many can now seek employment in their “Home”city and sometimes even in their own district. Many have sacrificed much during their time away yet they have gained added skills while working outside.
On my first International assignment leaving Montreal, Quebec going to Africa, it was clear that my family would follow me 3 months after I arrived, which they did. I could not conceive any other way.
What “we” take for granted is often not the same for everyone.
The Right Candidate
Seeking and Hiring the “Right Candidate” is one of the key elements to successfully open your property and lay a strong foundation for a long time.
As I am doing quite many interviews these past few weeks for key positions, I take notice that skills of the Chinese people have improved much over the years. When I say “Key Executives” it means managers who will oversee major pillars of the Hotel such as Finance, Rooms, Revenue Management, Food & Beverage, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, Engineering and today Information Technology (IT). They will do so with efficiency and relish the responsibilities given to them. Many “Key” managers have grown to be self-driven and ambitious for their career and achievements.
Whereas years ago you had a few Chinese GM and mostly in Local hotels, more and more are becoming today and in International properties. And that goes for all key positions. Many have been trained with well known and upscale companies benefiting the Market.
The plus side is that you have more skilled managers who want to return to their hometown and work for International Companies. However as China is experiencing tremendous growth in the Hospitality Industry, you are often face to interview good potential individual who are not yet ready to be a Director, but believe they can. Many will move rather quickly as opportunities are plenty just to grow and have the “title”.
This is where you need to use all tools at your disposal. Carefully read the resume, have multiple reference check including out of company one. Have a telephone and face to face interview. Have a colleague perform a telephone interview.
In today’s China, hiring for the “Right Candidate” is no different than in developed countries however with the many opportunities presented to each candidate, if you did not check his/her past year’s track record, your Candidate may be on the way out sooner than you think and often just for a few dollar more.
One more thing, should you find the “Right Candidate” be quick if not you lose.
China is growing quickly in all aspect of life. They are embracing the “New” and moving away from the “Old” in them.
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