Currently BTG-Jianguo owns more than 60 hotels across China. It aims to increase this to 80 hotels in 2009 and set up a brand alliance with "Jianguo Hotel" as the alliance name. With such rapid expansion, how can BTG-Jianguo keep its brand building synchronized and how can it achieve a consistency of service for all its hotels? With these questions in mind, we interviewed Fu Tianzhu, the chief executive officer of BTG-Jianguo Hotels & Resorts Management Company.
BTG-Jianguo was a pioneer in opening international joint venture hotels in China. How has this influenced your management philosophy?
BTG-Jianguo has always acted on the guiding principle of "Providing national hospitality with international standards". We gained advanced international management ideas from the foreigner investors, and most of our management staff have gained intensive experience from international hotel groups, which allowed us to use the international standards and management ideas for reference in operating "Jianguo Hotel", which has become the most well known domestic brand in hospitality industry of China.
We are quite well aware that compared with foreigners, domestic hoteliers are still lacking in professionalism. We have a set of training systems that include theory training professional skill training and orientation to improve the qualification of management staff. Furthermore, all the management team can study in working as they are asked to strictly observe the brand standards and working procedures of BTG-Jianguo.
How does BTG-Jianguo view the balance between quality and ranking?
The corporate 300 ranking is only a measure of scale. It is because of the support from BTG that BTG-Jianguo can be ahead of other domestic hotel groups (some member hotels within the BTG-Jianguo chain are BTG owned). But we don't think this ranking is so important. Comparing with project quantity and scale, we concentrate more on the quality of hotel projects.
How do you view the expansion of domestic hotel brands?
Domestic hotel groups have expanded rapidly in the past few years. But it is important to keep a balance between quantity and quality. Competitive power can improve only when both scale and operational quality progress. We concentrate more on quality and would rather give up some hotel projects if they can't meet our standards.
How do you position BTG-Jianguo against your competitors, particularly the international brands?
Our advantage is a deep understanding of Chinese culture, the Chinese market, and the requirements of our domestic guests. We are quite clear about these and these advantages help us a lot in communicating with hotel owners, in sales and marketing and personalizing services. Furthermore, lower costs make us more attractive during a financial crisis. So we are quite confident facing the challenges from international hotel groups.
What are your plans for developing the MICE market?
We consider the demands of the MICE market not only in scheduling and make sure hotels are well equipped for meetings, but also in management, service, and marketing development. For example, most of our hotels attended the government purchase public bidding and take part in the tender process.
How would you sum up the BTG-Jianguo management philosophy of brand recognition and return on investment?
The aim of BTG-Jianguo is "Serving our guests and repaying our owners". We believe in being operational results oriented and will try the best to repay the owner with best operational results. This is the foundation of the hotel project. If we are doing well, we will have extensive brand recognition. So it can be said that the brand recognition and return on investment are complementary to each other.