John Burger, the general manager of Doubletree by Hilton Huaqiao Kunshan, is a 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry. He has spent the last seven years working within the Hilton family of brands across Asia, holding management positions in South Korea, Vietnam, and Chongqing in China.
How does Doubletree by Hilton Huaqiao Kunshan differentiate itself through its location?
Kunshan Huaqiao International Service Business Park is an ideal location for Doubletree hotel. Our hotel is the only international hotel in this area. First, the park enjoys convenient transportation. Our hotel is located between the Shanghai-Nanjing Highway and 312 State Highway, beside Shanghai International Automobile City. It is approximately nine kilometers from Shanghai International Circuit, 18 kilometers from downtown Kunshan downtown, and only 25 kilometers from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway will go through Huaqiao International Service Business Park and the railway station is just beside our hotel. Second, it's a quick growing area and we have the good fortune of being in the center of the business hub of Shanghai. And there's plenty to do in the area. Around the hotel there are a lot of pleasure sites including Qiandeng Town, Shanghai Silport Golf Club, and Yangcheng Lake. So we are the best choice for business and leisure travel guests.
What do you expect the percentage composition of your guests will be?
We expect that 45% of our guests are from corporate travel, 35% from MICE and 10% from leisure travel.
What previous working experiences in Asia will you bring to this Chinese hotel?
The first city in China I worked in was Chongqing. After that I worked in a number of different countries in Asia where I was in charge of business development, operations, and the opening of Doubletree by Hilton Huaqiao Kunshan. I was part of the pre opening team at Hilton Chongqing, which is a wonderful city and I felt sad when I had to leave there. Opening a hotel is always a memorable event. The one that comes to mind is Hilton Chongqing. When we opened this hotel, it was for an international conference called AAPP, and we had over 30 heads of states attending the conference. It was not only a great experience but also an amazing marketing opportunity for the hotel. Obviously working in different countries one has many happy memories that range from meeting famous people staying with you to events you have attended, and the services you have afforded to your guests. I believe these experiences will help me a great deal in managing Doubletree by Hilton Huaqiao Kunshan.
How do you and your team face the post-Olympic environment in 2009 and the difficulties that result from the international financial crisis?
We only opened in January 2009 and we are quite a distance from Beijing so the post-Olympic environment has no impact on our hotel. Obviously in the USA, things have been badly influenced for the international financial crisis. Even in China we can feel the effects, as we rely a lot on international travel. However, for the hotel here in Kunshan, I don't think the impact will be so great as in Shanghai or other cities because Kunshan is a developing city and we are more driven by the domestic market than the international market. From the information we received so far, it will not affect the business so badly. The local government has obviously made lots of efforts to boost the market. Besides, the Shanghai Automobile City next door and the Shanghai world Expo next year, are also going to bring some opportunities for us. We are the nearest international brand hotel to the F1 circuit. That also brings us opportunities. What's more, we are also very close to famous scenic spots, such as Qiandeng Town and Yangcheng Lake.
How is corporate social responsibility reflected in your daily operations?
All Hilton family brands take social Responsibility seriously and focus their efforts in different ways. The Doubletree approach is part of our CARE culture. CARE, which stands for Caring, Attentive, Responsive, and Empowered, is Doubletree's commitment to total service quality that makes up our brand personality. The CARE concept grew out of the belief that if you treat guests and team members with CARE they'll stay with you. In the US the CARE culture has led us being involved in a number of commitments. We are now extending those programs to China. For example, we are now planning to work with the World Wildlife Foundation to protect endangered species. We are also planning to organize some children from the local schools to join our "Teaching Kids to Care" program, which teaches the children to learn and care more about our environment and wild animals. Doubletree by Hilton also focuses on raising the awareness of environmental protection and sustainability in our working environment. For example, we encourage all our team members to stop using disposable dishware and implement a paperless program in our offices. In order to help encourage all of our team members to become ambassadors of sustainable practices, we have provided progressive training as part of each employee's orientation program.
Many large hotels are now focusing on the business development of the MICE sector. What special plans do you have for expanding the MICE market?
We will focus on the auto industry for new car launches and racing events as we are located just beside Shanghai International Automobile City and only nine kilometers from the Shanghai International Circuit. We will work closely with DMCs to be accredited as preferred hotel thus to get more exposure. And the Hilton network will bring us great opportunities to reach MICE groups outside of Kunshan City.
At the same time, companies who have a series of training programs, or MICE organizers who have team building or sightseeing program needs are also our targets.
How do you make use of internet and email marketing to attract business and MICE clients?
Firstly, we have created our hotel's Chinese page and we also plan to create a special page for our Taiwan guests. And we plan to deliver e-news letters through our Hilton group, China Eastern Airlines, HMC for business and MICE clients. Our hotel's ads will also be put on websites such as Ctrip, Elong and Qunar. You can also see our hotel's information on the search engines such as Google and Baidu.