China Hospitality News reader Kevin Zhao is the director of DMC at CITS International M.I.C.E. Company Shanghai Branch. He is in charge of customer development and team management.
China Hospitality News is committed to offering the most comprehensive reports on China's tourism industry with the object of providing the latest industry news to buyers both at home and abroad. What do you think of our products? Which columns interest you most and why?
The Event Section is my favorite column. The information about industrial exhibitions and hotel activities is quite useful for us. We often participate in industrial exhibitions or events; this column can help us learn about the latest activities and industry news. In addition information about hotel groups' road shows or promotional activities enables our luxury travel division to acquire the latest hotel information, which is helpful for future work.
We have launched a China MICE and hotel meetings facilities search website, 51mice.com, for meeting organizers. What do you think of this website? Do you have any suggestion to make? Would you consider using this product when choosing a meeting venue for your company?
The 51MICE website has abundant and detailed information on meeting venues; I will use this service in the future.
As a DMC, what is your perception of the Chinese MICE market in recent years?
Generally speaking, the domestic MICE market has been developing well in recent years, and the major companies are leading the way. As a professional MICE company, we can actually see the challenges along with opportunities in the industry. Through these years of experience, we have had direct knowledge of MICE suppliers. MICE guests are considered the most valuable part of the high-end tourism market due the longer stays, high level of consumption, high requirements for hotel service, business operation capability and resource integration capability, and lack of seasonality. Many hotel groups now pay a lot of attention to the MICE business, and it will be the focus of Chinese hospitality industry in the next few years.
As the organizer of an event, what do you think is important for a MICE hotel's development?
There are mainly three aspects, full supporting facilities and the capacity that matches the hotel's facilities, professional MICE talent and personalized service, and resource integration and advanced management experience.
Compared with the four MICE markets in Southeast Asia, which are Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Macau, the MICE market in mainland China is just in the initial stage of development. The hospitality industry is crucial to MICE as a necessary cog in the operation of the MICE market. The experience of MICE guests in a hotel will directly influence their choice in the future. MICE hotel sales is not only selling rooms or meeting rooms. We expect hotels to be the facilitator for MICE activities. A hotel should consider carefully its market segmentation and positioning; developing strategies that suit its development needs. Now MICE activities are becoming more and more diversified, hotels should make the best of their own advantages to conduct resource integration to provide a unique personalized service and creative planning for MICE guests. We hope that the development of MICE hotels will facilitate the development of the MICE market.
What are your criteria for choosing a suitable hotel for incentive travel or meetings?
Usually we will choose a hotel based on the requirements of clients, such as the number of participants and the company brand. Also the level of service from the hotel staff and facilities of hotel are very important factors.
What are your criteria to recommend hotels or meeting destinations to guests? Which of them is the most important?
The location of the hotel and the level of support from the hotel are our major concerns. If it is a conference with more than 1,000 participants in a convention center, then we will need to find a hotel near the convention center. Support from a hotel mainly refers to hotel sales team's support to us. First, the quotation for DMC should be the same as that for clients. Second, the hotel sales team should provide support and assistance to us for meeting arrangements. Sales should maintain good communications with other departments to ensure our activities are able to procede smoothly. Third, apart from quotation, hotel's sales team should also help us in other aspects such as early check-in and translation service.
Which domestic hotels have impressed you the most in MICE service? And why?
InterContinental Beijing Beichen, InterContinental Shanghai Puxi, InterContinental Shanghai Expo, and The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai. Generally speaking, InterContinental Hotels have better hardware facilities and also better levels of support from the hotel's sales team, offering much convenience to us.
What do you think can be called "team building activity"? What are the requirements for the venue?
Activities with collective participation and common goals that can bring on board all of the company's staff to enhance team cohesion can be considered as team building activities. I recommend outdoor venues or large meeting rooms in hotels to conduct creative activities. And an ideal teambuilding activity should make use of other resources of a hotel property such as hot springs, golf, and entertainment facilities, combining dining, accommodation, and team building activities.
Please share a team building case held in a hotel with our readers.
We once held Chrysler's family day in Le Meridien She Shan Shanghai with over 300 people attending. The hotel is near to Happy Valley. We had arranged clowns and a magic show for the family day. The company held a new product display in the hotel, enabling the staff from various departments to appreciate their work at a closer distance, and their families to get to know more about their work. We won praise from the client for this activity.
Which hotels' banquet and catering services have impressed you most? Could you please recommend several restaurants in hotels to our readers?
Tangla Beijing and Shangri-La Hotel Beijing have very good catering services. In fact all five-star hotels have a selection of delicious foods, and service is what really matters.
What problems have you encountered in using hotel products and services? What suggestions do you have for hotels?
If the hotel has just opened, it will take time for different departments to cooperate smoothly, and the hardware and software facilities also need time to coordinate. Problems sometimes will happen especially in lighting and sound systems.
There is also the problem with payment. Hotels do not give us an account period and this causes many disputes.
Sometimes we will invite celebrities to join some activities, and some hotel management will ask to take photos with these celebrities, even jeopardizing the success of the activity, which is rather disgusting.
Through which channels do you select hotels or venues?
Hotel's own promotion events, my own investigations, and recommendations from associates.
Can you please recommend some travel destinations to our readers?
New Zealand, Japan, and Britain.
What are your hobbies and which types of travel do you like?
I like reading very much, and enjoy backpacking.
Do you have any plans for travel in the coming months?
Lijiang in Guangxi, and also Spain.