Playing to the crowds

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am


As mainland visitors have become a more important customer source, hotel chains are coming up with personalised programmes to make them feel at home.

Starwood Hotels has seen double- and triple-digit growth by mainland travellers, year-on-year, in its properties in major cities around the world.

'As Chinese begin to travel beyond their borders en masse, they will gravitate to hotel brands they know, and this gives us a great advantage,' says Frits van Paasschen, president and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Underscoring its commitment to the mainland market, the company has relocated its entire senior leadership team to the mainland. The chain has also initiated Starwood Personalized Travel at 19 of its hotels in international gateway cities to offer a variety of simple, yet meaningful touches that matter most to Chinese guests.

These range from in-room amenities to Chinese restaurant menus and food items, an on-site translation service and Chinese-language shopping, sightseeing and hotel information.

Another major hotel brand, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, is also rolling out a special welcome mat for Chinese visitors.

Hilton Huanying, which takes its name from the Chinese phrase for 'welcome', opened in San Francisco earlier this month and is being launched at 50 popular destinations worldwide. The programme aims to provide familiar comforts for Chinese travellers on arrival, in their guest room and at breakfast. They will be greeted by a front desk staff member fluent in Putonghua; rooms will be equipped with kettles, slippers, a welcome message in Chinese with a selection of teas on request; and there is also a dedicated TV channel showing Chinese programmes.

Hilton hopes the move will help it become the leading hotel choice for travellers of Chinese origin from around the world.

'We continue to lead and give guests compelling reasons to choose us,' says Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts.