Hangzhou Develops As A Favored MICE Destination

To respond to the "MICE + Leisure" development model, Hangzhou has made sightseeing, leisure, and MICE the three pillars of the city's tourism economy. MICE is now becoming an important component of Hangzhou's hospitality industry. Wang Xinzhang, the vice director of the Hangzhou Tourism Commission, has said that MICE will be an important area for tourism in Hangzhou over the next five years.

MICE tourism provides a comprehensive service, and that is why Hangzhou government is about to integrate tourism service enterprises to build a platform offering services and guarantees for large-scale MICE events entering Hangzhou. The Hangzhou government has issued a series of documents to promote the development of the MICE industry in recent years; to create a better environment for MICE; and to encourage domestic and foreign agencies to come to Hangzhou to hold events. In 2009 the Hangzhou Tourism Commission set up a MICE Division to work on the industry and encourage travel agencies to undertake more MICE events. In 2010 Hangzhou established the Hangzhou M.I.C.E Association to promote the city, provide professional information and guide the market. In addition, Hangzhou has cooperated with the World Tourism Organization to launch research on the general situation of the international MICE market and Hangzhou's strategy, and to provide a scientific basis for the marketing and expansion of Hangzhou MICE market. The city has also launched the Conference Ambassador program to reinforce relationship marketing in the MICE industry.

Through years of efforts from the Hangzhou government and related industries, Hangzhou has introduced many MICE programs, notably a large international MICE program that has made a great impact since its inception in 2009. Statistics show that the city has introduced more than 100 MICE programs with more than 100 participants at national and international levels since 2009, among which there were several with more than 1,000 participant — such as the Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical annual meeting, the Taiwan Fubon Life Insurance incentive group, the KFC 2009 management team meeting, the Mary Kay marketing conference, the Blue Swords MICE group, Microsoft conference, and AmCham China group. What's more, the city has attracted some high-level professional international conferences such as the 56th Les Clefs d'Or Congress, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts annual report, World Airline Road Race, the 5th International Conference on Destination Management, PATA Travel Mart 2009, and the PATA Board Meeting 2009. Among all these events, the World Airline Road Race has attracted more than 4,000 people from all over the world, and the 5th International Conference on Destination Management held by the World Tourism Organization, the China National Tourism Administration, and the Hangzhou Municipal Government had about 300 participants both domestic and overseas. PATA Travel Mart is Asia-Pacific's largest and most influential professional tourism exhibition. In 2010 Hangzhou undertook the China-Japan-South Korea Trilateral Tourism Ministers' Meeting. These meetings, exhibitions and events have greatly improved Hangzhou's popularity and influence as a MICE destination. The city is becoming more and more recognized worldwide.

Hangzhou has made a lot of efforts in the construction of hotels. Currently there are about 8,000 hotels in Hangzhou, including 18 five-star properties, ranking the city in third place following Beijing and Shanghai. These hotels provide meeting venues of different sizes. Besides large-scale conference hotel clusters, there are more small-sized conference hotels, making it possible for the city to hold both large conferences and high-end private meetings. These otels have gained rich experiences in conference receptions in recent years, laying a solid foundation for Hangzhou to be a famous MICE destination.

Hyatt Regency Hangzhou
Prominently located in the lakeside pedestrian zone, within walking distance of the business, entertainment and shopping districts, Hyatt Regency Hangzhou is the city's premier venue for corporate meetings and leisure travel.

Philip Yu, the hotel general manager, isays that the hotel not only has a unique location and perfect hardware facilities, but is equipped with the most important software, that is the well-trained and experienced staff. The hotel offers authentic hospitality services to guests and tries its best to exceed the expectations of guests. Staff make every effort to meet the customers' needs and act upon feedback to improve service quality, which is the reason Hyatt hotels can continue to maintain the leading position in the industry, and also the key to the high proportion of repeat customers.

The 390 spacious guestrooms at Hyatt Regency Hangzhou, many with a panoramic view of West Lake, provide a personal haven for relaxation in total comfort. The contemporary decor features elegant furnishings in relaxing colours, accented with light wood and works of art. Besides, the hotel has a spacious meeting room, health club and spa treatments, as well as Chinese and western restaurants, lounges and live bands. The cafe serves a breakfast buffet, and offers the unique flavours of Hangzhou dim sum.

With 3,300 square meters of conference and banquet space, advanced technology and a dedicated convention service team, Hyatt Regency Hangzhou is the ideal venue for corporate meetings and special occasions. The marvellous 1,200 square meters ballroom, featuring a high ceiling, excellent sound system and luxurious decor, is one of the largest hotel ballrooms in the city. Six Regency Rooms provide organisers with a flexible space for press briefings, smaller group meetings and intimate events. Two drawing rooms adjacent to the Ballroom, offer a cosy living room environment, and provide flexibility for breakout sessions and smaller events. The Residence is an exclusive, uniquely stylish banquet and meeting venue with floor-to-ceiling windows. Together with its exclusive private bar and lounge, The Residence sets the stage for unique and creative events. Overlooking the picturesque West Lake, the West Lake Room can accommodate up to 120 guests in a round-table style. The view astounds both during daytime meetings and private dining in the evenings. Five Salon Rooms in a private dining set-up – the largest having a capacity of 20 guests — are recommended for lunches and dinner parties. Three boardrooms are equipped with 10 to 14 seats, conference tables, and top-level audiovisual facilities, making them an ideal venue for smaller group meetings.

Hangzhou has always been famous for its beautiful scenery. With the mountains and glittering waves, the quiet serenity of the natural environment is ideal for all types of offsite catering activities. Hotel can change the style and type of party depending on the season, the number of participants, or any other specifications you have. The hotel can also help you select appropriate routes to places far or near. For example Qian Wang Temple, Yong Jin Lou, Yang Gong causeway, Taiziwan Park, Xihu Tiandi, The former residence of Hu Xueyan and West Lake cruise.

BNP hold their meeting at Hyatt Regency Hangzhou, with more than 400 attendees in four days. BNP hired all the banquet rooms, including the 1,200-square-meter ballroom and 20 multi-function rooms. The hotel offers advanced multimedia facilities, individually controlled lighting and audiovisual flexibility, high performance video-conferencing and high-speed internet access. The hotel also organized large scale outside catering for BNP at Qian Wang Temple, serving Chinese and Western cuisine, and presenting high quality food, beverage and catering services to guests.

Along with Hangzhou's business and tourism growing, domestic and Asia Pacific business, tourism companies and individuals are paying attention to Hangzhou. The 2010 Shanghai World Expo — leading Yangtze River Delta regional tourism and business activities, and contributing to the Hangzhou hotel industry — makes sure the Hangzhou hotel industry is based on long-term and increasingly international basis. The Hangzhou hotel industry is bound to accelerate the process of introducing international hotel standards, service and management philosophy in the hotel, and improving the skills of hotel training professionals. Yu believes Hangzhou's business travel and MICE market will grow in 2011. Hangzhou has become the ideal venue for MICE due to its beautiful environment, good infrastructure and full equipment and professional services. It has received many International conferences, bringing considerable income, but also increased the fame of Hangzhou. Guests can enjoy magnificent scenery and experience a colourful culture when having meetings in Hangzhou. In recent years, Hangzhou has improved its infrastructure, especially with the Shanghai to Hangzhou high speed rail. Hangzhou has a large number of four and five-star hotels, and conference centers have been put into operation with various-sized meeting facilities to meet the requirements of incentive travel.

For recreation and leisure in Hangzhou, Yu recommends following places. Hefang street, Huqingyu Tang, WangXingji Fans, Wushan night market, and Chinese silk market for shopping; West Lake, Six Harmonies Pagoda, Lingyin Temple, Yuefei Temple, Longjing Village, Southern Song Imperial Street, Xixi National Wetland Park and China Tea Museum, China Silk Museum and West Lake Museum for sightseeing, Impression West Lake, Xihu Tiandi for night out, and Zhi Wei Guan, Xihu Yihao, Kuiyuan Guan, Grandma, and WeiZhuang for dining.

InterContinental Hangzhou
Ideally located in the central business district of Hangzhou, InterContinental Hangzhou is very close to the Civic Center, Wave Culture City, and Hangzhou Grand Theater. It is only a two-hour drive from Shanghai. The West Lake, the Hangzhou International Conference Center and the old and new culture have attracted many business, meeting, and government guests.

Rob Spiekerman is the general manager of InterContinental Hangzhou. He told China Hospitality News that Hangzhou has made itself a conference destination by taking advantage of its economy. The frequent exhibitions and conferences have also propelled the development of hotel industry in Hangzhou, as more and more international brands are entering the city like Jumeirah, Four Seasons and IHG, which will bring unavoidable competition. In the future, the hotel industry in Hangzhou will show a new pattern with more hotels away from West Lake.

According to Spiekerman, InterContinental boasts following advantages. First is an ideal location. Second is the unique overall structure of the hotel, which appears to be the shape of a huge golden Ferrero Rocher. Third, the hotel has a creative courtyard which is 85 meters in diameter. This is one of a kind for Hangzhou and even for China. Fourth, each luxury guestrooms features bright French windows with Qiantang River views and city views. Fifth, the hotel provides professional meeting service with its 28 fully-equipped meeting rooms and multiple language simultaneous interpretation system.

All deluxe suites and Club InterContinental have a spacious bedroom and a living room. The mini bar, digital TV and wired or wireless Internet access are available in all rooms. Club member will enjoy free breakfast, Internet, drinks and desserts. Guests can get relaxed by having a spa in the hotel.

The hotel has a 2,000-square meter pillarless ballroom, perfect for corporate meetings and banquets. There are also several meeting rooms at the second floor, providing private comfortable space for small-sized governmental and business meetings. Hotel also has state-of-the-art AV equipments and full meeting facilities to meet the demand of different guests. Famous events that the hotel has held include the 6th China International Cartoon & Animation Festival opening banquet, Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Zhejiang Business Week, and Hangzhou International Fireworks Show opening banquet.

Rob Spiekerman believes the entry of international hotel brands to Hangzhou in 2011 will enhance the city's influence as a MICE destination. The 2010 Shanghai Expo has promoted Hangzhou to world. In recent years, the Hangzhou municipal government has been focusing on improving the urban environment and facilities around West Lake and nearby tourist attractions. Besides, the government also supports the development of some new economic centers in Hangzhou such as Xiasha and Binjiang, which will enhance the strength of Hangzhou as a destination for large-scale top MICE events.

There are many things to do in Hangzhou out of business hours, says Spiekerman. For example, guests can see the San Tan Yin Yue Island on a boat, or they can go to Lingyin Temple, Mei Jia Wu, Song Dynasty City and Hefang Jie. For shopping guests can go to China National Silk Museum, or buy some local products like West Lake Longjing tea, lotus root starch, pecans, or chrysanthemum morifolium. Lou Wai Lou, Tian Wai Tian, Shan Wai Shan, The Grandma's (Wai Po Jia) and Zhi Wei Guan are the places that tourists must not miss for dining.

New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou
Featuring a good location near the airport, train station and Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway, New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou is the nearest hotel to Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, which is only 20-minute drive away. Tourist attractions like West Lake are within a 30-minute drive, and destinations like Shanghai, Shaoxing and Ningbo are two-and-a-half drive away. The hotel's guests are mainly business guests and meeting teams from local enterprises, and some tourists.

Wu Pingping, the director of marketing of the hotel, says the competition in hotel industry of Hangzhou has become fiercer as more and more foreign brands are entering the city such as InterContinental and JW Marriott. Now more and more hotels are beginning to develop the local market: even some foreign-invested hotels. Also, third-party online reservation channels have become more popular in Hangzhou, and the proportion of guests these have brought to hotel is increasing. Consumers are becoming more rational and mature, which means the luxury facilities are not their prior concern; instead, they are paying more attention to services provided by hotel. So hotels are now mostly competing in software such as service quality and procedures.

As the largest domestic hotel group in China, New Century enjoys a good reputation in the industry. Hangzhou is a new international tourist destination, its natural beauty and cultural landscapes are very fascinating to both domestic and foreign tourists. New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou has attracted many international organizations with its unique characteristics. The hotel believes advantages in hardware cannot last for long, but that of software can, which is also the key of hotel's success. The hotel is innovating in service mode as well as in service quality. New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou has set up a senior banquet service team and a golden key meeting service team to carry out professional MICE service to guests.

The hotel provides a series of convenient and efficient services to business guests. It is only eight kilometres away from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, and half-an-hour drive from famous tourist attractions. The ideal location makes it easy for business travelers to go to different places. The 248-meter high, 47-floor hotel has 688 guestrooms, about 2,000 seats and 40 balconies for dining, full recreational facilities, and modern high-end meeting facilities, presenting five-star courteous reception to business guests the moment they step in.

The senior banquet service team was set up after two-years of training. Each member of the team is trained systematically and professionally, and has "graduated" after strict examinations. They are dedicated to providing excellent, professional and personalized five-star service to guests from the start to the finish of an event.

The golden key meeting service team was created by New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou in July 2010. It is under food and beverage department, providing one-stop service to meeting guests 24 hours. Basically it is the general coordinator for the accommodation, F&B, and meeting administration of all meetings. It is in charge of every detail of a meeting such as setup, lighting, music, temperature and others, and also helps coordinate accommodation and dining with other departments of the hotel. Besides, it also handles matters of a meeting out of the hotel.

The hotel has full modern meeting facilities including three 1,000-square-meter ballrooms and 15 meeting rooms of various sizes, all furnished with best equipments. With the help of well-trained meeting manager, quality senior banquet service team and professional golden key meeting service team, the hotel is capable of holding high-end meetings. The pillarless Kaiyuan and Jingchao ballrooms are at each side of the hotel's fourth floor, with a eight-meter-wide corridor connecting both. Either can accommodate up to 700-900 people for meetings or dining. There are movable walls in Jingchao Ballroom, offering flexible choices for events. Multi-channel simultaneous interpretation system and intelligent meeting equipments are to meet demands of various meetings. What's more, there is independent VIP anteroom beside either ballroom for the reception and rest of important guests.

In 2011 Hangzhou's MICE industry will continue to develop fast, says Wu Pingping. Wu gives three reasons. First, the economy in 2011 will develop steady given the economic rebound in 2010, which is just the foundation for MICE development. Second, local governments and related departments support the development of MICE industry in the city, carrying out a series of measures to encourage local enterprises to get involved and to promote the city as a MICE destination. Third, hotels are now paying more attention to MICE market. For example, some foreign-invested hotels that focused on FITs have adjusted their strategy to attract more MICE guests. And some hotels are building conference centers and ballrooms to improve conference reception capacity.

As Wu says, Xianghu is the birthplace of Zhejiang civilization, and there are about 20 scenic spots in Xianghu. It is a perfect place for a walk, especially in the evening. It is only 15-minute drive from New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou. He Fang Jie is a shopping area, which was once the culture and trade center of Southern Song Dynasty. There are many time-honored brands in the street like Wanlong Ham Store, and Weng Longsheng Tea Shop. Being the only old street maintaining ancient style in urban Hangzhou, He Fang Jie is typical of the history, business, civilisation and architectural culture of Hangzhou.

Buyer's View
Hotel Should Match With Conference Quality
Zhang Hua, a professional in the watch industry says the Watch Manufacturers Association holds the China Watch & Clock Fair annually with approximately 500 participants. The whole event includes a forum, discussions, an exhibition, and dinner, and usually lasts for three days. Retailers, agents, service providers, and brands from all over China gather here to exchange information and experience.

The Watch Manufacturers Association has held two conferences in New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou in 2009 and 2010. Zhang said he would inspect four aspects of a conference hotel. First is the hotel's reputation. Most attendees are retailers of luxury watches and top management from leading watch sellers of different areas. They usually have higher requirements for hotels. Second is the size of the hotel. Considering the size of the conference there should be enough double rooms to accommodate the attendees. Hence the hotel should have abundant meeting space and guestrooms. Third aspect is a hotel's meeting facilities. There are different discussions, evaluation meetings, product displays and many other events held during each conference, therefore the hotel should have different types of venues to meet different requirements. For example, there will be usually about 40 or 50 exhibitors displaying their products in the product display. Fourth is service. Besides suitable venues, quality service is also very important, such as food and beverage service.

Zhang said a watch is a commodity of luxury, technology, harmony and lifestyle. It has the essence of technology in it, and hundreds of parts working together harmoniously have created the accuracy of watches. The conference should be held in five-star hotel that can match the level of the event. New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou has held the conference twice for several reasons, according to Zhang Hua. The hotel is managed by a famous domestic hotel management company who advocate humanistic management, provides all-round service and well furnished guestrooms. In food and beverage, a five-star hotel usually provides high-quality, upscale dining service, while New Century Grand Hotel Hangzhou has provided quality dining service and a competitive price. This hotel can quickly and properly respond to organizer's requests during the whole event. For instance the organizer of 2010 conference had only got over 400 receipts while 580 people have registered when the conference actually started. The hotel quickly re-arranged its plan for accommodation and other things. This is the very reason that Zhang has chosen this hotel. Besides, the management of the group and hotel will ask in person about the details of hotel's arrangement and express their desire to get feedback from organizers to further improve service levels.