News is not so good this week. Fact is my “Critical Opening date” is less “Critical.” It has been moved giving me more time ahead of me to competition shop, experience some “Spas,” discover specialty restaurants in the city to compete with… well, I have more time.
Luckily, the front end of the “Critical Path” is loaded with only the GM, DGM and EA to both of us.
It also gives me more time to carefully walk some areas of Service with which I have concern and find creative solutions on operational issues. And I do have some areas to be concerned with.
As I have mentioned in previous writing, unpleasant as it is, “Postponing” from the beginning is easy. It has little effect on the process and lessens the financial impact on the Owning Company by having minimal Associates on board. You move all dates by the corresponding time and that’s it. Well, actually it’s not that easy.
In the past weeks, I have interviewed many key candidates. In doing so, I have been able to identify a good number of them with the hope that they could start within the next month or so. Now the tricky part is to keep them “hooked” until they can join and become the nucleus of the property.
My focus now shifts from “proactive” to “protective.” For some who are from outside the company, I will send them on training to learn about the company’s culture and systems. For others who are from within, we will delay their entry level and prolong their handover from current properties between the arriving and the departing managers. Actually not a negative in either case.
Obviously, once these “Critical” steps have been taken and confirmed, “Postponement” can be an option for the Owner but it becomes increasingly more difficult from the operational perspective. We can limit the financial damage at this early point only. Later it becomes more challenging and costly.
Just last week, a colleague and good friend decided to move on after more than 2 years of a still undefined pre-opening date and with more than 300 employees on board. As he rightly said, there is only so much training and retraining you can do. At one point it has an adverse effect, not to mention the constant loss of key managers and associates.
My Project – Our Mega Project
Last week, I went around “my Project” comprised of Apartments, Offices, Shopping mall, manmade lake, park, kindergarten, possibly jogging trail and more. I have already asked to have the design of the alleys in the park. I may need an electrical cart to take guests around. I also found some good places around “my Project” to do elegant Outside Catering.
Nothing is small in China. Projects are Mega-Projects. They are often viewed as new city centres. In a not so distant future, on your way from Wuhan International Airport you will come across “my new district” with skyscrapers and buildings which will prompt you to think that you have now reached the city center of Wuhan. However you are still 4 kilometers away from the current one. These Mega-Projects create new High Tech, Optical, Automobile or Industrial Development Zones.
In China, I am always reminded by the supersize of the projects they have. When in the small city of Suzhou recently, I could not help but notice the undergoing massive project of the “Gate of the Orient” also known as “Suzhou’s Big Pants” because of its unorthodox shape resembling a pair of comfortable jeans. It is also billed as China’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe. Eighty eight floors comprised of Underground parking, Shopping, Offices, Apartments and a five star hotel on the top floors.
Last week, I also visited in Wuhan another Mega-Project underway. Its Exhibition and Convention Center is a gigantic undertaking by the city to attract international and local fair which will then energize the Tourism and Hospitality sector once completed. A Ballroom seating 4,000, 66 meeting rooms, 12 large Exhibition pavilions, underground parking, 2 hotels, offices and more.
Now you noted that I said “Small city” of Suzhou. Actually Suzhou has a population of 4M in its core district expanding to 10M when including the suburbs or administrative area as they call it in China.
Wuhan is 10M in its core district easily doubling when including the suburbs. As an example, my hometown, Montreal is only 1.6M expanding to 3.8 with the Metropolitan area. That would be considered a village in China.
When working in China, size and quantity matters. You are reminded of this daily in every sense and wherever you go. Some Chinese avoid the subway at peak times for the fear of being pushed over. Not so different from home you will say, multiply what you experience or know by 100 and then let your imagination flow…
Yoland Perras General Manager Sheraton Wuhan Hankou Hotel