Owen Zhang, the general manager of Sheraton Hohhot Hotel, first joined the Starwood group at the Great Wall Sheraton hotel in 1983, when it was one of the first generation of five-star international hotels in Beijing. He has had extensive working experience as a sales director, and in food and beverage as well as hotel operations management and hotel marketing strategy.
You have served in Starwood Hotels and Resorts group for over 25 years, what makes you so loyal to this group?
Well, why I am so loyal to Starwood is because I can feel strongly that I belong there. When I began my career so many years ago, I was a fresh graduate with no ideas about the hospitality industry, because at that time there were no international five-star hotels in China.
Luckily, I entered the Great Wall Sheraton hotel, which was the first five-star hotel in China. I learned so much from there. In the following years, I joined some other Sheraton hotels in China. The knowledge I’ve got from them really help me a lot in my career life.
The march of Starwood has never stopped, in the first 10 years of the new century, Starwood has enlarged its business in mainland China a lot. I can say that, Starwood is a group with long history but full of passion.
Right now, I have served in Starwood for over 25 years. I strongly believe that I still have a lot of things need to learn from it, which will enlarge my life.
You have managed many different departments, what experience have you accumulated from this work?
I like the sense that different kinds of people in my hotel are willing to share their story with others. There is an old Chinese idiom that says, "Gold is never pure, the person is never perfect." The sense of sharing will help people to enlarge their life. Just as Sheraton says, "Life is better when shared."
Meanwhile, I study the relationship of the service and profit. That is the service-profit chain: associate satisfaction–guest satisfaction–revenue growth.
What are your thoughts of the development of your hotel in the future?
Sheraton Hohhot Hotel opened on May 8, 2010. It is the 1,003rd property in the Starwood Hotels Group, is also the 58th hotel to open in the China region. We have an excellent management team and excellent associates. I believe that with our good service and excellent facilities Sheraton Hohhot Hotel will become a bright star in the Hohot hotel industry.
What are the distinguishing features of the hotel’s MICE facilities? And what are your plans to increase your share of the MICE market?
Transportation is convenient, from Baita International Airport to the hotel is only a 20-minute shopping malls. Shopping centers, banks, and business facilities are all available. The hotel has 350 rooms, with areas ranging from 40 to 296 square meters, and a variety of different room types to meet the needs of customers at different levels. The hotel has a number of unique restaurants, guests can enjoy rich traditional dishes and modern cuisine. In addition, the hotel also has a large parking lot, solving the parking problem for guests and participants in events.
The hotel meeting facilities include conference rooms, exhibition halls, and banquet rooms with a total area of 1,918 square meters, an 880-square-meter ballroom which can accommodate 780 people, a function room, and four meeting rooms to meet the requirements of different sizes of event. All the rooms are equipped with a comprehensive international sound system and we have an experienced professional team to provide quality conference services. Meanwhile Sheraton Hohhot has the largest LED display, 60 square meters, in Inner Mongolia. With the continuous development of tourism between China and Russia, Hohhot has become a major tourist destination. Our hotel plans to use this advantage for religious and cultural events, trade shows, and exhibitions organization went to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia tour. At the same time taking advantage of Hohhot's position in the Northeast Economic Rim and the North China economic circle by offering guests the advantage of more favorable hotel booking services and attracting more visitors to Hohhot.
What Inner-Mongolian features are there in your hotel?
The characteristics of our Inner Mongolia meals. In the reception we use the traditional Mongolian hospitality etiquette, can you feel the atmosphere of Mongolian culture and we use typical Mongolian decorative patterns in the hotel.
What is the percentage breakdown of your guests? What are the individual differences in services resulting from this percentage composition?
The hotel's guests can be generally divided into: government receptions, company meetings, tourist groups, individual tourists etc., the percentage breakdown varies seasonally.
As a senior manager and a professional in the hospitality industry what is your management philosophy? And how will you train your staff?
In modern hotel management, human management has been gradually increasing in importance in the mainstream management philosophy. Modern hotel management reflects human nature. On one hand there is customer satisfaction, the emphasis is customer-centric; on the other hand, employee satisfaction in an important consideration that emphasizes that the hotel should be employees based. If the the staff are not satisfied, there is no customer satisfaction. I suggest applying this human management concept to the management of staff, to achieve employee satisfaction, improve hotel service quality, and thus having more satisfied customers, a satisfied owner, and faster development for the hotel. Establish new partnerships and strengthen communication with staff. Empower employees. with the appropriate incentive system. This is the Starwood concept used in staff training. I should say that the hospitality industry has given me so many assets and I have learned so much from it. That is why I love the hospitality industry so much.
The most important things I gained are sharing, communication and the sense of new development of hospitality industry. Starwood is such an excellent stage for all the staff to show their proficiency and it provides huge opportunities for them to learn.