Managing Location To Gain Market Share In Beijing

Kurt O. Wehinger, general manager of the Grand Millennium Beijing has extensive hotel management experience in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the United States, South East Asia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia.

How do you differentiate the Grand Millennium Beijing from your competitors?
a) A strategic location in the newer part of CBD with various new commercial centers opening e.g. World Financial Center, CCTV, and Phase 3 Fortune Plaza Office Towers.
b) We are immediately adjacent to Line 10 MTR Station which provides quick easy access to other business/leisure locations and to the airport.
c) We interconnect through fully enclosed pedestrian bridges with the office and apartment buildings giving direct access to the hotel and service apartments.
d) One of the largest room sizes of Beijing's five-star hotels (45square meters) and we are the only hotel in Beijing with the unique and modern spacious 'extended bathrooms' featuring floor to ceiling glass panels.
e) Provision of a serious workspace area with an 'oversize' work desk and fast broadband access in all room types and suites.
f) Luxurious spa and personal wellness centre, health club and gymnasium facilities with 25 meter indoor lap pool, plus a plunge pool, and oversized whirlpool.
g) Our Havana Bar, offering authentic tapas, finest cigars, a cigar room, and sizzling live entertainment with the city's largest choice of fine rums and a variety of exotic cocktails.
h) The aesthetics of the hotel created by the design and quality of the public areas and guest rooms as well as the choice of elegant furnishings and creative art collection leads to an ambience for image conscious leaders of industry and business as well as International and local travelers to conduct their business in comfort and style right in the heart of Beijing's CBD.

How has the global economic crisis impacted your business?
While China is less affected by the global financial crisis than the US or Europe, we nevertheless are feeling the pinch and I fear the worst is yet to come for our region. With the present precarious business climate and the oversupply of hotel rooms in Beijing, we are facing a buyers' market that will have an impact on RevPar on all hotels and it will be quite challenging, particularly for new hotels like the Grand Millennium, to gain and maintain rates and market share.

Please could you forecast the developing trends for the hotel industry in the next two years?
With China playing an ever more central role in the world economy and with the continued projection of strong growth in both tourist and business arrivals, it is expected that market will provide adequate opportunities for the hotel industry for the coming years. Additional support for this view is evidenced by the airline industries willingness to expand their services into the city.

Beijing does represent one of the most desirable destinations for meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions, particularly in view of its competitive pricing for both the region and internationally. Beijing also rightfully enjoys a reputation for being a most exciting and interesting destination to visit with varied options for both pre-and post-itineraries for convention or incentive delegates.

What source markets does the Grand Millennium focus on?
With a strong network of over 120 hotels in the Asian, European and US markets, Grand Millennium Beijing will attract the corporate, FIT, MICE, and high-end leisure market segments predominantly from the lucrative Asian market, the European market, and affluent Chinese domestic travelers.

As a new deluxe business hotel, how do you attract potential clients for GMB?
a. Strong local sales team, which understands both domestic and overseas feeder markets, supported by our Millennium & Copthorne Global Sales Offices and global customer programs.
b. Marketing programs with major local and international brand partners such as credit card companies and mileage programs with airlines in frequent flyer rewards.
c. Participation and enrollment in the M&C group's frequent guest reward program, offering unique value-add, recognition, and incentives to our guests.
d. Efficient use of E-Commerce to promote the new hotel.
e. Editorials and advertising in major publications in key markets to create brand awareness.
f. Bookers' Reward program for local booking offices and influencers for choosing our hotel.

If meeting planners are looking at a venue for their next conference in Beijing CBD, why should they choose your hotel?
Grand Millennium Beijing has designed its rooms and facilities in accordance with its target clientele's needs. For the MICE market we have extensive meeting and conference facilities. For example, our hotel offers a 1,000 square meter pillar-less grand ballroom and 11 other function rooms fully equipped with the latest technologies. Combined with Grand Millennium Beijing's variety of food and beverage outlets and recreational facilities, we can ensure the absolute comfort and convenience of our MICE clientele.

What Internet and e-marketing channels does the Grand Millennium use?
We use quite a few and we are featured in most of the global distribution systems and work with all major third party websites.

What do you like most about living and working in Beijing?
I have loved to work and live in Beijing since I arrived in 1990, because of its uniqueness, vibrancy and the 'new frontier” feeling I got whenever I ventured out of the city with my wife and three year old son.

This time around I feel extremely fortunate to be able to see in my own lifetime one of the truly economic miracles of our time, the opening of the Olympic Games, the vibrancy of a truly international metropolitan city and to see my little boy from the 90's as a student of traditional Chinese medicine in the University of Beijing, speaking and writing excellent Chinese and enjoying the enormous social and cultural scene in this great capital city.

If you had just thirty seconds in an elevator to attract someone to stay in your new hotel, what would you say?
One of our hotel's strengths is its location; the hotel is set face to face with the CCTV Building, a landmark in Beijing. Another strength is the friendly professionalism and the desire of our associates to exceed guest expectations. We could say Grand Millennium Beijing boasts excellent service, good timing, geographical convenience, and is an outstanding product in all respects.