Wuhan: On The Way To Being MICE Capital Of Central China

Wuhan is a super large economic center in central China as well as a promising headquarters base for domestic and foreign companies. The city has prominent advantages in developing the high-end business travel and exhibition economy. Though it was once considered to be an "undervalued city", it features favorable geographic location, solid industry, an abundant reserve of talent and unique tourism resources. All this has laid down a strong foundation for it to develop an upscale business travel and exhibition economy.

Wuhan is located in the east of Hubei province. It has become a key communication center and transportation hub in China with its unique location as the "thoroughfare of nine provinces", which is formed particularly because of Hankou that lies at the junction of two rivers. Wuhan stands on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and the central part of the Beijing-Guangzhou railway. It is about 1200 kilometers from each of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi'an, Guangzhou, and Kunming, and is accessible from these cities by air within two hours. Right now, there are scheduled flights between Wuhan and Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand and Japan and more non-stop international lines are coming in the next two years.

The launch of Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed rail and the construction of other high-speed railways, including the Shijiazhuang-Wuhan railway that is connected with the Wuhan-Guangzhou railway and makes the distance between Wuhan and Beijing to less than four hours; the Wuhan-Jiujiang railway that connects the Nanchang-Jiujiang railway and the Xiangtang-Putian high-speed railway and makes the distance from Wuhan to Fuzhou less than four hours; the Wuhan-Yichang railway that connects the Chengdu-Chongqing railway and makes the journey from Wuhan to Chongqing and Chengdu in less than four hours, are making Wuhan the best destination for incentive travelers. When these projects are done, it will take only about four hours to go from Wuhan to cities like Beijing, Fuzhou, Chengdu and Chongqing. Coupled with the current Wuhan-Hefei and Wuhan-Guangzhou railways, Wuhan will soon have a four-hour economic circle linking the city to the major cities in China. This is of great significance to the forming of Wuhan as an economic center and the increasing of its influence and attraction, and will provide unparalleled advantage for Wuhan's MICE development.

Industry and Economy
Wuhan is the largest industrial and commercial city in central China. It is also a key industrial city whose construction is given support by the government. Besides, Wuhan is the only city from central China that has been listed as one of top ten national cities in terms of comprehensive strength. Wuhan owns a complete industrial system including steel and iron, automobiles, photoelectronis, chemicals, metallurgy, textiles, ship building and pharmacy. Wuhan Economic and Technology Development Zone has become one of the most intensive automobile industry bases in China with a group of top automobile manufacturers such as Dongfeng Automobile Company, Dongfeng Automobile Co., Ltd., Dongfeng Honda Automobile Company, Shenlong Automobile Company setting up their headquarters here. In addition the Zone is also home to a batch of top automobile research institutions such as Dongfeng Automobile Technology Center and Cummins East Asia Research and Development Center as well as whole-car manufacturers like Shenlong Automobile, Dongfeng Honda, Dongfeng Yu'an. Wuhan East Lake New Technology Development Zone is the largest and most powerful photoelectron industry production and R&D base in China and gathers such famous companies and financial service providers as Microsoft Wuhan Innovation Center, IBM Global Service Center, EDS Global Service Center, France Telecom Software R&D Center, Credit Card Center of Bank of Communications, the operation center of China Merchants Bank. In 2009, China's State Council approved the building of the Wuhan East Lake New Technology Development Zone into a national self-innovation demonstration zone. This has provided strong technology premise for Wuhan to develop MICE service.

Exhibition Venue under Construction
Exhibition venues are vital to the MICE industry. Wuhan, as a large city in central China, has the unparalleled conditions for developing MICE. To date, Wuhan has successfully held China International Machinery and Electronic Products Exposition. The event has been listed as one of the three major international level exhibitions that the Ministry of Commerce will offer special support to. Wuhan has also made trade exhibition one of the three polar sectors of its modern service industry. However, Wuhan is still in shortage of hardware facilities for MICE development. Wuhan International Convention and Exhibition Center and Wuhan Science & Technology Convention Centre together provide a total of 80,000-square-meter indoor exhibition space, but only about 50,000 square meters of space in these two venues can be actually used. This means that Wuhan's exhibition facilities can only meet the demand of small trade exhibition or middle size light industry exhibition. In June 2009, the construction of the 460,000 square-meter Wuhan International Exposition Center was commenced. The Center is expected to be the largest of its kind in central China. The main exhibition hall of the Center is roughly circular in shape and consists of 12 serial bell-shaped halls, each of which can be connected with a movable door to form up to a 460,000-square-meter space, equaling to 64 football fields. This includes a 185,000-square-meter exhibition hall and a 270,000 square-meter elevated parking space, with 135,000 square meters of net exhibition space and 7,400 parking booths.

Natural and Culture Landscapes
Wuhan is rich in tourism resource. It is attractive to incentive travelers. There are the Yellow Crane Tower, the East Lake, the Guiyuan Buddhist Temple, Hubei History Museum and Jiangtan in the downtown area of Wuhan. Besides, there are Wudang Mountain, the relics of the Three Kingdoms and the Shenlongjia scenic spots in Hubei. Wuhan is a national historic and culture city and an excellent tourist city in China. It has 339 places of historical interest, 103 revolutionary sites, 13 national key cultural relic protection sites and 156 provincial level relic protection sites. Most of these sites lie in the downtown area and only a few of them are in the suburbs. The most famous spots include the Yellow Crane Tower which has been renowned as the first tower on earth, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge which is known as the first bridge on the Yangtze River, the East Lake which is known as the largest downtown lake, the Guiyuan Temple, a Buddhist holy land in Wuhan, the Red Building, the democratic door of Asia and Jianghan Road, a century-old street in the city.

Hotel Facilities
Currently, there are 11 five-star hotels in Wuhan. And six to eight more five-star hotels are also under preparation. This will provide more meeting and accommodation options to incentive travelers. Compared with other cities in China, Wuhan is more favorable to MICE organizers in accommodation, transportation, meeting room leasing and consumption.

Wuhan Marco Polo Hotel
Millie Tsui, resident manager of Wuhan Marco Polo Hotel, said the special service that the hotel offers to guests lies in its comprehensive and advanced facilities. According to Tsui, each room of the hotel is furnished with ergonomic chairs for business travellers to relax and relieve the back strain, which makes it the only hotel in Wuhan to have this facility. The hotel is also in pursuit of details of satisfaction and care for guests in every aspect. It has a pillow menu specially designed according to guests' sleeping habits and preference, which makes them feel at home even they are at the hotel. The pillows on offer include: Silent Night, Jade Pillow, Lavender Pillow, Chrysanthemum Pillow, Foam Pillow, etc. Tsui stated that Wuhan Marco Polo Hotel is the first five-star hotel in Wuhan to provide free broadband Internet access in rooms and free WiFi Internet access in all the public areas inside the hotel.

The hotel has a 10-meter high ballroom, which provides the highest ceiling in Wuhan. The unique round-shaped ballroom of the hotel can accommodate all kinds of banquet and weddings. In addition, the hotel has nine function rooms that can hold various conferences and activities of up to 20-180 people. The hotel has also a function room specially set up as boardroom, which can accommodate 20 people, and is equipped with flat screen color TV, projector, WIFI, etc.

Tsui commented that with Wuhan being positioned as the transport hub in China, a great many world Top 500 corporations have set up branches and agencies in the city one after another, which indicates the business market in Wuhan is more mature and increasing. In December 2009, the high-speed railway from Wuhan to Guangzhou was opened and made a new road for the travel market in Wuhan. Tsui said that they are happy to see more superior travel groups attracted to Wuhan compared with the normal groups to Three Gorges. She said that indeed, it takes time for the travel resources in Wuhan to improve its hardware, but they still have confidence in the new market. What's more, Tsui believed that Wuhan will become the best MICE city in central China when the project of Wuhan Exhibition Centre completes its construction.

New World Hotel Wuhan
New World Hotel Wuhan forms a part of the newly integrated business complex in Hankou and is surrounded by many a Global Fortune 500 Companies. The 27-story hotel features 327 guest rooms and suites with stylish decor. All rooms are superbly equipped with a high quality LCD TV, comfortable bedding, individually controlled air-conditioning, broadband Internet access, two phone lines and an elegant bathroom. The Executive Floors are located from the 25th to 27th floors, offering exclusive benefits and privileges for those discerning Business travelers. The Executive Lounge, on the 26th floor, is exclusively for Executive Floors guests. Overlooking a spectacular view of Wuhan, the lounge provides guests with a complimentary breakfast, evening snacks and cocktails, as well as wireless Internet access. It's a great place for meeting or entertaining business clients. The unique poolside garden on the sixth floor is a perfect venue for relaxing. The hotel, along with the New World Department Store, 5A-rated offices, and also Hotel-style-managed deluxe residential apartments, offers supreme convenience and comfort for business travelers.

David Wicker, the general manager of New World Hotel Wuhan, commented that the hotel also features over 1000 sqm of multi-purpose functional space, including a ballroom and five well equipped conference centers. The ballroom for instance can hold as many as 500 people, which could be suitable for a range of different sized meetings, cocktail parties or dinners, press conferences and many more.

The five conference centers range in size from 49sqm to 118sqm. These are ideal venues for board meetings or any group discussion. There is also natural light in all five conference centers which make it a more comfortable atmosphere for guests who are using them. The rooms all feature comprehensive audio visual equipment for that special board meeting or presentation.

The hotel also offers a new and unique, yet classic approach to dining, specializing in catering and banquet arrangements. It uses traditional banquet menus as well as some superlative new cuisine selections which can be prepared in the venue itself. This helps bring the fusion together and also creates interaction between the kitchen team and guests.
After two years of operation, the hotel has successfully handled some grand activities such as a U.S. embassy Dinner Banquet, a Hong Kong Style Show Luncheon Banquet and the Central China Expo Banquet. These all won high praise from all the guests. As a side note, the hotel also offers a series of other services to the MICE clients including tea breaks, secretarial services, and many more.

David Wicker believed that Wuhan is a large industrial and commercial city with a wide variety of different industries established here, ranging from developed steel manufacturing, automobile production, photoelectronics, chemicals, metallurgical products, textile manufacturing, shipping, pharmaceuticals and others. Wicker said these industries play an important role in the development of the region's economy and there is a still a lot of potential in the Wuhan MICE industry.

Novotel Xinhua Hotel Wuhan
Gilbert Mennetret, the general manager of Novotel Xinhua Hotel Wuhan, said that the hotel is ideally located in the economic financial centre with large parking space both underground and on ground. It has also meeting rooms, food and beverage outlets and entertainment facilities all in the complex building as well as state-of-the-art meeting facilities. The advanced audio-visual meeting equipment is also available. Mennetret said that the hotel provides one stop service and has designated events and meeting service personnel to follow up and coordinate MICE guests. In addition, the hotel can make suggestions for events, team building and other services according to customer's requests.

Regarding the special experience Novotel Xinhua Hotel Wuhan brings to business travellers, Mennetret said that the hotel is in pursuit of a comfortable, effective, natural living. The hotel just launched the Lady's room recently which is tailor -made for female business travellers and provides a perfume burner, Yoga mat, special bed linen, cosmetic tools etc and lots of female amenities. The decoration of the room is also different from other guest rooms. Mennetret said that they hope to provide a warm, cosy, relaxed and personalized space to female business travellers who have just experienced a tiring trip.

Gilbert Mennetret thought the business travel market and MICE industry in Wuhan will continuously grow as the economy and communications improve. As a key city in the middle part of China, Wuhan will have more investment opportunities and chances for economic development. Besides, the improvement of the high-speed railway and the expansion of Tianhe Airport, the further development of tourism resource and the update of city infrastructure will highlight the strength of Wuhan as a hot MICE city.

Howard Johnson Pearl Plaza Wuhan
Liu Bing, the general manager of Howard Johnson Pearl Plaza Wuhan, said that the hotel has established a Guest Relations Department. The department is controlled by the General Manager directly and is in charge of collecting the suggestions and complaints from guests, to build a flowing communication channel between guests and Hotel General Manager. As guests' satisfaction is the hotel's unremitting pursuit, the hotel offers greeting, consulting, private butler service and so on to VIP guests. To meet guests' individual needs and to better serve them, the hotel takes a record of long stay guests' preferences and regularly updates it.

The hotel has the largest river view ballroom in Wuhan with complete hi-tech meeting facilities and experienced service. The hotel has established a reputation in the industry for "Convenient, Express, Professional and Sincere Service".

Wu believed that as the central city of central China, Wuhan has the favorable location of "thoroughfare of nine provinces". Travel and business activities are frequently seen here. The high speed train between Guangdong and Wuhan further develops the southern market of China and attracts more and more business travelers. With the construction of the "two types of society" (energy saving society and environmentally-friendly society), the East Lake High-Tech Development Zone and the Economic and Technological Development Zone attract a large number of foreign business investment. As hotel and large venue numbers increase in the city, Wuhan will be one of the largest meeting distribution centers in China.

Ramada Plaza Optics Valley Hotel Wuhan
Liu Yuejin, general manager of Ramada Plaza Optics Valley Hotel Wuhan, said acording to the industry statistics, more than 4,000 meetings are held in China every year, growing by 20% annually. It can be estimated that more than 200 large scale international meetings will be held in Wuhan n 2010 alone. The hotel industry of Wuhan, which is a rising city in China, is facing much more opportunities and challenge with the nice development of business travel market and MICE industry.

Liu said that Ramada Plaza Optics Valley Hotel Wuhan enjoys a unique location and rich tourist resources compared with other high-star hotels in Wuhan. The hotel is located in the CBD of Optics Valley of China and East Lake Hi-Tech Development Zone—National Self-directed Innovation Demonstration Zone, being surrounded by hi-tech and world top 500 companies. It takes only 10 minutes to drive to the East Lake scenic area, where you can enjoy the romance of winter sweet, cherry blossom and various kinds of flowers in four seasons. With the opening of Wuhan-Guangzhou high speed railways, the demand for high-end hotel increases fast. Staying in Ramada Plaza Optics Valley Hotel Wuhan becomes the best and convenient choice to head for East Lake, Yellow Crane Tower, Hubei Provincial Museum and other famous attractions in Wuhan.

Liu commented that Ramada Plaza Optics Valley Hotel Wuhan owns the largest pillarless ballroom in Wuchang area, the 700-square-meter East Lake Ballroom that can accommodate various company meetings, exhibitions and parties. Besides, the hotel has six function rooms of various sizes which can be adjusted flexibly to meet different demands. The meeting areas are equipped with high-tech meeting facilities, wireless Internet access, simultaneous interpretation, large size LCD screen as well as professional service offered by experienced meeting service team.

The hotel provides professional arrangements and comprehensive tracking, a one-stop MICE service. Meeting planners only need to communicate with a designated hotel co-operator before they can choose facilities and rooms offered by more than 20 Ramada hotels. The meeting planner and organizer can enjoy one-stop MICE service among more than 20 Ramada hotels with the facilities and rooms that they need.

The hotel's MICE service gains advantage from the expert MICE team. The team is comprised of qualified meeting experts, wedding planner and banquet co-operator. The hotel also provides a series of professional assistance with electronic tools, technical support, video conference, hi-speed Internet access, large scale LED screen and computer equipment rental and so on.

Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel
Darwin Du, DOSM of Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel, said that The Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel is a five-star deluxe hotel, surrounded by three lakes in the most picturesque area of the city. The hotel offers an ideal location at the heart of Wuhan's Central Business district. It is only a 30 minutes drive to Tianhe International Airport and five minutes to Wuhan International Expo Centre, making it an ideal choice for both business and leisure travelers. As a flagship hotel of Jin Jiang Hotels Group, The hotel aims to satisfy every guest, for example by recording their likes during the stay, and offering an effective service upon their next visit. The hotel's turn-down service with complimentary gift and panoramic lake view outside window gives guests a memorable stay.

According to Du, Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel has a grand ballroom that is majestic with 496 square meters in area and has a six-meter ceiling. As one of the most striking ballrooms in Wuhan, it combines magnificent design with a very refined atmosphere and modern equipment. It accommodates up to 400 people, and can be divided into two sections for smaller functions. The hotel's meeting and banquet facilities can match the most specialized needs. Its professional catering staff will help every guest achieve the objectives and make a guest's event a great success.

As far as Du is concerned, Wuhan has been officially appointed as one of the Center Cities in China, which will attract many national and oversea companies to set up their office in Wuhan and develop their projects there. In addition, a lot of business travelers will conduct on-the-spot investigations here. With the establishment of the Central Business District, many companies are actively investing in programs here and more business people are coming in. This has brought a positive influence on Wuhan's MICE. Traditional exhibitions such as China International Medical Equipment Fair, China International Machinery & Electronic Products Exhibition and Conference on Overseas Chinese Pioneering and Developing in China have chosen Wuhan as the regular venue for their events. More and more new events are coming in, on a large scales. Many touring exhibitions, such as medicines, automobiles, food and home appliance have also chosen Wuhan as one of their stops. This has accumulated much experience for Wuhan's MICE industry. In addition, the government has invested in an exposition center in Hanyang New Zone that will attract more international events for Wuhan upon its completion.

Renaissance Wuhan Hotel
Minnie Xu, the general manager of Renaissance Wuhan Hotel, believed that the premise for a successful meeting is the facilities. Xu said that Renaissance Wuhan Hotel is offering a list of distinguished facilities to meet the demands for different meetings, banquets and parties. The hotel has four meeting rooms and two executive board rooms with a total area of 577 square meters. The pillarless ballroom can be divided into three to four rooms. The clients can enjoy their coffee or tea breaks and catering service right beside their meeting facility. All the hotel's meeting facilities are equipped with high speed Internet access and up to date audio-video equipment as well as professional meeting teams. Xu stressed that the hotel's expertise and experienced meeting team are key to meet meeting planners' goals and targets for a meeting and provide excellent service beyond their expectations.

Xu said that Renaissance Wuhan Hotel has a team of experts as event planners taking care of all tiny details to ensure the achievement of client's goals, friendly and energetic service team of bilingual language to execute in a way to ensure guest ultimate satisfaction. Theses great facilities are supported by a huge car parking space, private entrance, private elevators and a business center/ticket office which provides all needed service for successful event. The hotel's culinary team is another story of success. Their art production, presentation, display and menu design are one of the key services clients had experience and highly appreciated all the time. The hotel has upgrade its Cantonese restaurant with 11 high profile private dinning rooms and its best hotel buffet restaurant (by Hubei media) are providing great selection to the VIP MICE clients in term of upgrade/private catering space.

Xu believed that Renaissance guests are a unique group of travelers. They are intellectually curious. They are always looking for something new, digging for something different. They are discoverers. Simply speaking, they aren't looking for just a place to stay. They want to "stay interestingly". So, the hotel helps these guests to "take it all". Every point in the hotel is communicating and appeal to their natural curiosity! The hotel's up-to-date hard and soft products, the interior design, unique accessories, subject of interest such as the games, and stylish publications in club lounge are arranged to keep guests engaged and excited. Xu gave one example about unique experience the hotel offered to guests. Xu said that they provided guests with "navigator" collateral to guide them to the most indigenous places they can discover in Wuhan to eat, shop, sip, and see. At night time, the internal music style, candles, accessories turns the entire atmosphere to cosy, energetic residential style.

Xu believed that without any doubt the business travel market in Wuhan will continue to show a strong positive trend to complement the strong and healthy growth of Hubei/Wuhan economy. The huge investments by the Chinese government to continue upgrading the infrastructure, telecommunication, transportation, entertainment and investment regulations are all paving the right environment to attract more and longer term business to the market which will definitely increase the volume and frequency of business travels to Wuhan market.

Best Western C-Bank Hotel Wuhan
Wan Huiyin, the deputy general manager of Best Western C-Bank Hotel Wuhan, said that the hotel is located in the core business area of Hankou Financial Street in Wuhan with a complete set of facilities such as large size supermarkets, hospitals, and universities. Besides, the hotel is neighboring to more than 20 banks, Wuhan municipal library, real estate trade center and the TV station. The hotel is about 10 minutes drive to Hankou Railway Station and the No. 2 Yangtze River Bridge and about 30 minutes drive to Tianhe International Airport. The hotel provides 140 suites, each of which is equipped with an independent kitchen, a dining area, a work area and a comfortable bedroom. Besides, each room has an independent central air-conditioner system, free broadband access, international satellite TV programs, safe, and Mini bar. In addition, the Martini Bar on the Fifth Floor of the hotel is suitable for various business banquets and featured events.

Bookers'Views on Wuhan
Memorable Experience in Wuhan
Ye Ting, the regional sales director from Bayer HealthCare, told China Hospitality News that Bayer HealthCare has held internal events such as training and sales conclusion meetings and external events like academic exchange and various medical meetings in Wuhan. These events are usually attended by 20-300 people.

While choosing a meeting venue, Ye said they will consider the transportation, the facility and the hotel service as well as whether the hotel can highlight or prominent the company's brand culture. Ye said they have cooperated with New World Hotel Wuhan, Shangri-La Hotel, Wuhan, Wuhan Marco Polo Hotel, Asia Hotel Wuhan and New Beacon International Hotel Wuhan. Of these hotels, New World Hotel Wuhan has impressed Ye a lot with its meeting service. The advantage of the hotel is that it prepares many pre-meeting materials. It will accept goods and keeps them properly in advance for clients. The hotel's service staff is kind. Though there are only a few staff, they work effectively and efficiently. They respect guest's demand and try their best to meet guest's demand. Since the company has chosen the hotel for several times. It has established solid relationship with the hotel.

Ye also recommended several good travel destinations. She said the premier beauty of Wuhan should be the "Experience of Water", the beauty of lake and the Chu culture. She claimed that rowing a boat on the East Lake or appreciating the Bianzhong performance at Moshan will make people relaxed and happy. Ye believed that it's better to travel in Wuhan between March and May or in September or October, as the Spring and Autumn are the two most beautiful seasons in the city. She said that March to April is the time to see various flowers including cherry blossom, peach blossom, pear blossom and winter jasmine. In this time of the year, Wuhan has been turned into a world of flowers. Travelers should also not miss the snacks of Wuhan. They should walk to the lanes to taste various snacks, including beef and mock turtle noodle, oil braised shrimp, barbecue, and fried dumplings. All these will bring an unforgettable experience to their trip.

Hotel Becomes Impressive With Personal Service
The Wuhan branch of a foreign-funded bank has held a 150-person annual meeting and a 40-people symposium in Wuhan. Xu Peng, an executive of the Branch, said that they will mainly consider transportation, hotel brand (whether it matches the company's brand), meeting facilities and service when they choose a hotel. Xu said that they have cooperated New World Hotel Wuhan, Shangri-la Hotel Wuhan, and Novotel Xin Hua Wuhan. New World Hotel Wuhan has left the deepest impressions on him among all these hotels. Xu remarked that the hotel's banquet sales person is very warm-hearted and capable of delivering personalized service. For example, her dress was once stained by tea on an annual meeting because of her carelessness. When this happened, it was just one hour before the meeting began. She was worried about how to do with the dirty dress when the staff of the banquet department came and offered an immediate help by delivering her dress to the laundry for emergency service. As a result, she had a clean dress on at the meeting. In addition, Xu said that the hotel's tea breaks are appealing. The hotel adopts freshly ground coffee instead of instant coffee to ensure the good taste of coffee. It also offers delicate dim sums and fresh fruit to guests.

Xu is very familiar with Wuhan. She listed such wonderful natural scenery as the East Lake, the Yellow Crane Tower and the Qintai when speaking of Wuhan. She said that Wuhan is a city of generousity, with numerous food and snacks at various places. Xu said that eating breakfast in Wuhan is a pleasant thing to do, since there are delicious hot dry noodles, the tender skin of bean curd, the soup dumpling, the glutinous chicken, shiu mai and a wide range of other foods that will not be available elsewhere. In addition, the chicken soup of Xiao Tao Yuan, the rib and lotus root soup, the new style Hubei dish all make the mouth water.

Hotel Needs To Improve Software Service
Zhu Ling, a sales assistant of Medtronic Medical Appliance Technology and Service (Shanghai), said that they hold events in the form of salons in Wuhan and these events are usually attended by 50 people or so. In choosing a meeting venue, Zhu said that they will consider the location, the size, the shape of the venue as well as the reputation and service of the hotel. Zhu said that Marco Polo Wuhan is a newly opened hotel with nice location and hardware facilities. But the hotel needs to improve on software service. In addition, she has chosen Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel, Ramada Plaza Optics Valley Hotel Wuhan, New World Hotel Wuhan, Shangri-la Hotel Wuhan and Howard Johnson Pearl Plaza Hotel Wuhan for their events. For those who pay a first time visit to Wuhan, Zhu recommend them to go to the Jianghan Road Pedestrian Street, Jiangtan, the Yellow Crane Towner and the East Lake to experience the city's present and past.

Five-star Hotels In Wuhan Distinguish Themselves With One Another
Gao Yun, assistant to the manager of the Power Distribution Division of Schneider Electric (China) Investment Company, said that the company holds various meetings each year, ranging from a promotion meeting for up to one hundred people to large scale meetings with over one thousand attendees. Gao said that four-star and five-star hotels are their premier choice as the facility and service of these hotels can ensure the smooth holding of the meetings. Second, they will consider the transportation and the surrounding environment. For example, whether there are any scenic spots or featured service around the hotel. Gao said that they have cooperated with many four-star and five-star hotels in Wuhan, and the most frequent partners are Novotel Xin Hua Wuhan, Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel, Shangri-al Hotel Wuhan, Ramada Plaza Tianlu Hotel Wuhan, Marco Polo Hotel Wuhan, Howard Johnson Pearl Plaza Hotel Wuhan. Gao said that they have less cooperation with hotels in Wuchang, but Wuhan East Lake Hotel has impressed him with its beautiful scenery.

Gao said each of the five-star hotels in Wuhan has its own characteristics. But for the sake of convenient transportation, they have cooperated the most with Novotel Xinhua Wuhan. Gao stated that the hotel is a unique French-style hotel. Its meeting rooms are sophisticated but useful. It offers very detailed conference services which ensure the success of all their meetings.

For first time visitor to Wuhan, Gao recommend them to visit the Yellow Crane Tower, the East Lake and the Ancient Qintai, which are the three symoblic scenic spots in Wuhan. Gao said there are numerous snacks in Wuhan. Travelers can try the Hubu Lane or the Minsheng Sweet Food Restaurant on Tianjin Road. There are also a lot of featured restaurants such as the Gu Ji Xian (whose featured dish is turtle braised in the traditional way), Chu Lao Song (whose recommended dish is Pao Ni Hao) and Shui Yifang (whose signature dish is La Ti Dun Qian Zhang).

Details Need To Be Reviewed For Meetings
The events Alstom (Wuhan) Engineering & Technology Company often holds in Wuhan include their annual summary meeting, Wuhan branch strategy development meeting, various themed training sessions, and business meetings. The number of attendees ranges from a dozen to about five hundred.

Xiao Yuanyuan, outsourcing engineer of Alstom (Wuhan) Engineering & Technology Company, said they will consider a hotel's environment and facilities before choosing the hotel as their meeting venue. Xiao said they will conduct an on-site inspection on the transportation situation between the hotel and the airport and between the hotel and the company before making a decision. They will also make an inspection on the hotel's meeting rooms, review its size, the accommodation capacity, the audio-video equipment and the soundproof effect. They will consider whether the hotel has an efficient team to deliver service. They will see whether there is enough parking space in the hotel and how efficient the transport is to the hotel and the detailed fees involved.

Second, they will consider the room situation of the hotels. Room service is also very important, especially for large size meeting or events that last for days. For this kind of events, they will consider more details: 1. Whether the room supply is guaranteed during the meeting; whether it can meet the demands of various level of clients; whether it has VIP floor service. 2. They will check about the room reservation service, the check-in and checkout service as well as how the deposit will be returned. 3. The use of the rooms. E.g. how the hotel will treat attendees who arrive earlier or leave later than scheduled. What kind of payment is acceptable and what kind of credit cards do they accept.

Third, they will inspect on the hotel's food service, including the fruit, the quantity, price, service time and place position of the fruit for tea breaks; whether there is enough staff to meet the demand during the peak time at dinner; whether the service is fast and efficient, the menu, the price, the layout of the tablecloths etc.

Alstom (Wuhan) has chosen Renaissance Wuhan Hotel, Howard Johnson Pearl Plaza Hotel Wuhan, Marco Polo Hotel Wuhan, Novotel Xin Hua Hotel Wuhan and Logosun Hotel Wuhan. Xiao said that she was impressed by the meeting service of Renaissance Wuhan Hotel. The hotel can form a special team based on the meeting size and communicate carefully with the clients on details before the meeting and discuss on how to deal with emergencies. During the meeting, they work closely with the company, follow up the meeting procedures and solve unexpected happenings in a proper and timely manner. Their professional service has guaranteed the success of the meetings. So they are complaint-free. Second, the hotel's food environment is good, it offers a big variety of food which blends local food with western food, and it changes the menu according to seasons. The hotel's bar is very unique. It is an excellent option for taking a rest after the meeting. Third, the hotel features an elegant and fashionable design. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. The bathroom is separated from the toilet. The service is considerate to make every guest feel at home.

For those who stay in Wuhan for one to two days, Xiao recommend them to go to the East Lake and choose the Renaissance Hotel Wuhan, as it just takes about five to six minutes drive from the hotel to the destination and costs just the basic price of the taxi. There are also the beautiful Hankou Jiangtan Square and Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, Guishan TV Tower. All these interact with each other and offer a spectacular view, especially when seen from the boat in the night. Those who love history or want to experience the Chu culture can consider going to the Chu City or Hubei Provincial History Museum. If they want to experience the vogue and trend, then they should not miss the Xin Min Zong Paradise on the Zhongshan Avenue. If they are here in March, they can go to the Wuhan University to see the cherry blossom.

Speaking of the food of Wuhan, the abundant variety of breakfasts can not be neglected. Tourists can go to the Hubu Lane to have a taste of all, including the dry skin of bean curd, Mianwo, Rice Wine, Dry Hot Noodle, Shiu Mai and the steamed dumplings. All these are cheap but special. In addition, Wuhan Jingwu Duck Neck and Zhouhei Duck are also a must to taste. But certainly don't ever think of buying them from the supermarket. Instead you should go to the specialist store to purchase those freshly made but packaged in vacuum packages. In addition, the rib and lotus root soup is a popular local snack in Wuhan. It can be found in almost all restaurants here.

Wuhan Will Turn from Tourist Source Region to Tourism Destination
Zhou Qi, manager of the Inbound Department of Wuhan Datang International Travel Service Co., Ltd, said that the main clients of their company are MICE clients or business inspection groups. The company ever provided service to a meeting of over 1000 attendants from 500 Chinese companies. Zhou has accumulated much experience from serving business inspection teams and large size meetings. Meanwhile she has gained unique insight into Wuhan's MICE.

Zhou said that Wuhan has a distinctive location being the center of Central China. It is about 1000 kilometers from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou. After the launching of the Wuhan-Guangzhou High Speed Railway, it takes just about three hours from Wuhan to Guangzhou, hence this has attracted a lot of tourists from Guangdong and Hong Kong to visit Wuhan. The express train also makes Wuhan accessible to Shanghai tourists in five hours. In a word, Wuhan features convenient transportation for MICE and business travelers.

Wuhan is an important industry base in China with a group of well known companies including Wuhan Steel Company and Wuhan Ship Manufacturing Company. Wuhan China Optics Valley is the largest cable and optic electrical parts manufacturing base in China and the largest R&D base for optic communications technology as well as the largest laser industry base. Wuhan China Optics Valley has become a landmark brand in China's optics industry. In addition, Wuhan has built up an optics biological city, which is the second national industry base following the East Lake High-tech Zone. Zhou said this has laid strong foundation for Wuhan's MICE development.

Zhou said that Wuhan has rich tourism resources. For MICE clients, the travel arrangement can first focus on Wuhan and then gradually extend to the Wudang Mountain, Shennongjia adventure exploration and the Three Gorges. Zhou gave a special introduction to the newly launched Wuhan-Enshi line that goes through Yichang. She said that Enshi Tu and Miao Ethnic Minority Autonomous Prefecture is home to 27 nationalities including Tujia, Miao, Han and Tong. The prefecture is surrounded by lofty and precipitous peaks which has made the beautiful scenery and unique folk customs here well reserved. Zhou said that they will plan a trip according to client's time. If the clients have one to two days, the company will arrange for them to visit the Yellow Crane Tower, Wudang Mountain, and the Three Gorges Dam. In addition, there is a large variety of food in Wuhan, which can cater to the demands of both business travelers and ordinary tourists.

Zhou said that Wuhan has built several five-star hotels in recent years, including the New World Hotel Wuhan, Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel, The Renaissance Hotel Wuhan, Wuhan Marco Polo Hotel. This has brought the reception of Wuhan to a higher level. Generally speaking, Wuhan hotels can meet the demand of high end clients. It also has international brand hotels recognized by foreign tourists. Zhou has recommended several hotels based on clients'needs. She suggested those who like shopping to choose a hotel in the business area; those who want to appreciate the riverside scenery can go to the Howard Johnson Pearl Plaza Hotel Wuhan, as the hotel is located in the old concession and is facing the Yangtze River. If dining at the hotels' swirling restaurant, the river view is in the eyes along with Wuhan's unique appeal. For MICE clients, she said that New World Hotel Wuhan is a good choice because of its location. The hotel is 500 meters away from the exhibition venue and this greatly facilitates the guests business. For the overall reception service of Wuhan hotels, Zhou believed that since the launch of the Wuhan-Guangzhou High Speed Railway, the hotel can not meet the demand for rooms due to the limited number of beds available. In addition the hotels need to improve on personalized service and featured service.

Speaking of the MICE business in Wuhan, Zhou said that with the economic development and the launch of the high speed railway, Wuhan will gradually turn from a tourist resource region to a tourist destination. Not long ago, the construction of the third terminal building of Tianhe Airport commenced. This will make Wuhan the third city in China to have three terminal buildings following Beijing and Shanghai and it will have the largest hub airport in central China. This will also call an end to the scarcity of international flights in the city. In 2008, more than 70 companies from the World Fortune 500 invested in Wuhan and the number is still on the increase. Zhou said that with the increase in the number of tourists, Wuhan travel agencies will face a shortage of tour guides, especially tour guides who can speak less popular foreign languages and Cantonese. In addition, the tour guides need to improve their interpretation skills and try to provide one-stop interpretation for all spots in Hubei province, instead of having a different tour guide at each scenic spot.

Splendid Prospects for Wuhan's High-end Business Travel and MICE
Wuhan Jiuzhou Travel Agency Company is an independent and professional tourism service provider approved by China National Tourism Administration. The company offers a whole range of services such as tourism, business and meetings. Shen Dongfeng, the general manager of WJTAC, stated that the company has a team of professional tourism and meeting talents and it has many different types of partners including hotels and bus companies. Shen said that their hotel partners range from five-star properties to budget hotels, while other partners include not only professional tour bus providers and cruise companies, but also luxury restaurants and featured dining spots.

Shen said that WJTAC has held many big events. For example, it provided a reception service to more than 200 Shanxi officials who come to Wuhan for meeting and tourism inspections. It was designated by Wuhan municipal government and Wuhan Tourism Bureau as a reception unit for the 6th City Sports Meeting. Shen said other clients of WJTAC include Merck & Co. Inc. Coca-Cola, Xi'an Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, and Bayer, all of which are the World Top 500 Companies.

When talking about Wuhan's advantage as a business travel and MICE destination, Shen said that as the largest city and a central city in central China, Wuhan is also a super-big city on the middle and lower ranges of the Yangtze River as well as an important industrial, educational base and comprehensive transportation hub in China. Wuhan features rich tourism resource. As a high-end tourist destination, Wuhan's advantages remain in the four aspects: First, the transportation. Since the ancient times, Hubei province has been reputed as "the thoroughfare leading to nine provinces". As the capital city of Hubei province, Wuhan possesses unparalleled transportation advantage. Wuhan is also one of the four major railway hubs in China. The state's newly invested Beijing-Guangzhou express railway and Shanghai-Chengdu express railway intersect in Wuhan and forms a transportation network with Beijing Guangzhou railway, Beijing-Kowloon line, Wuhan-Daye line and Hanxi-Danjiangkou line, which makes Wuhan in an irreplaceable position in China's railway network. Wuhan airport is one of the six major regional hub airports in China. The airport hosts ten airline companies and 29 aircraft providing about 120 daily flights to 158 domestic and overseas lines, connecting 60 major cities both home and abroad. Wuhan is a major internal river harbor on the middle range of the Yangtze River and is a hub for the water transportation on the Yangtze River. Wuhan harbor connects with Chongqing, a major city for China's western development in the west and Shanghai, the dragonhead city in the east of China. There are 35 mid-size and large harbors in the downtown areas of Wuhan, providing 397 berths and forming a natural water transportation network with the Yangtze River, the Hanjiang River and many other small branches. Currently, there are totally 8827 kilometers of roads in the six suburb areas (about 76.33 square kilometers in area) of Wuhan. The road density in the city is 115.64 kilometers/per square kilometer. Besides, it has express way of 265.622 kilometers, and first class road of 330.495 kilometers and second class roads of 812.064 kilometers. All the national and provincial roads here reach the second class standard. In conclusion, Wuhan features a unique location that connects rivers and seas, the east and the west, the north and the south.

Second, the talent advantage. There are 82 institutions of higher learning in Wuhan, which ranks the city the second in China in terms of the number of universities. Among these universities, 18 focus on training masters candidates and 16 on PhD degree holders. Wuhan has the largest number of college students and the number reaches 1.04 million. This eprovides an undoubted talent advantage for Wuhan. These schools also provide a large quantity of tourism talents and travel professionals.

Third, the diversified tourism resources. As a historical and excellent tourism city in China, Wuhan has 339 places of historical interest, 103 revolutionary spots and 13 national key relic protection units as well as 156 provincial key relic protection units. Most of the scenic spots lie in the urban area. The most famous ones are the Yellow Crane Tower, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, the East Lake which is the largest city lake in China, the Guiyuan Temple (a sacred Buddha place), The Red Mansion (the door of Asia's democracy), and the century old Jiangan Road.

Fourth, the complete tourism facilities. Wuhan provides comprehensive tourism facilities, including hotels, transportation, tourism professionals and service quality to meet the demand of tourists.

Shen said Wuhan has rich tourism resource for themed events and many scenic spots can be incorporated into the event to bring unexpected experiences to the clients. For example, the history of the Xinhai Revolution (The Revolution of 1911) Museum, the culture of the Yellow Crane Tower and the snacks of the Hubu Lane can all be used as part of a themed event.

Shen Dongfeng said they have cooperated with many hotels, including Wuhan Jinjiang International Hotel, Ramada Plaza Tianhu Hotel Wuhan and Gezhouba Hotel Wuhan. In recent years, Wuhan has been seeing a rapidly increasing hospitality business with international hotel groups, tradition hotels, budget hotels and themed hotels emerging in the city. But compared with first tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, Shen believed Wuhan's hospitality industry still has a long way to go on service.

Shen believed that there is splendid perspective for Wuhan's high-end business travel and MICE. He is quite optimistic of the future of MICE in Wuhan. The main reasons are: 1. MICE in Wuhan is receiving government support. Wuhan is one of the major cities listed on the central government's middle area development strategy and therefore it has been given a lot of attention from the state. Besides, Wuhan municipal government attaches great importance to business travel and MICE development in the city and offers much supportive policies. 2. Wuhan enjoys a favorable position in China as the capital city of Hubei province which is reputed as "the thoroughfare leading to nine provinces". Therefore, not only tourism, but also all industries in Wuhan, show promise. Shen was confirmed that Wuhan will certainly be a star city in China in the future. 3. Wuhan has complete facilities and talents to meet the demands of business travel and MICE development.