Richard Deutl, the general manager of the Westin Nanjing, has 30 years experience in the hospitality industry. A native of Salzburg, Austria — the city of "The Sound of Music" and Mozart — Deutl has been with Sheraton and Starwood Hotels & Resorts for 22 years.
What are your first impressions of Nanjing?
When I arrived for the very first time, I realized how green Nanjing is in comparison to other Chinese cities; secondly, it has a lot of water features which both give a good feeling to people living here and to visitors; life is not that fast and historically the city has a lot to offer.
What are your thoughts on the development of Nanjing's hospitality market in these years?
The hospitality market in Nanjing is developing as other areas; slowly but surely and most importantly, I think it is substantially more stable than other cities. For many years, a few hotels have shared the cake amongst them; now within two years four to six new five-star hotels will turn the market upside down. And this will not be the end; until the Youth Games in 2014 more hotels will be opened and I see a bit of a danger of over development. On the other side, more hotels may create an attraction for more business to come in and subsequently fill the hotels again.
Guests will have more choice and overall I think the hotels will improve their service and quality in order to maintain a satisfactory occupancy level.
The Westin Nanjing has an excellent location, what development prospects does this bring to the hotel?
It is not only the location but also the visibility from afar. We might not be the tallest building but with our big logo we certainly stand out in Nanjing's skyline. Perfectly located at the Nanjing International Center with a high level shopping mall annexed, next to XuanWu Metro Station, only 10 minutes by car from the train station and only five minutes to the airport highway, and adding to that the fact that each of the 234 rooms overlooks XuanWu Lake it will certainly be attractive to many guests.
But at the end it will be the service, the quality and the brand value that really convinces our guests to return.
What are The Westin Nanjing's characteristics and market position?
I think being located on top of such a 45 floor building — I count the shopping mall floors as double floors — is itself already a great characteristic. Being part of one of the globally most recognized brands is certainly a main feature for this hotel.
What Westin Hotels & Resorts is excellent in is transforming our guests from stressed, chased business people into fully energized, relaxed and recharged people, ready for the challenges ahead.
The design, atmosphere, illumination, and plantings create an oasis from the stress and strain of the outside world!
Westin's industry leading brand items like the Westin Heavenly Bed (which, by the way, anybody can buy in our Retail Store), the Heavenly Shower, the Westin Workout, the 25-meter indoor swimming pool and the spa offer all what guests need to recharge their batteries. We particularly take care of our guests' well being; our food offerings in the all day dining restaurant "Seasonal Tastes" under the leadership of Eric Crochetiere direct the guests to carefully selected, natural products with high nutritious value.
Our award winning Huiyang chef Ricky Yin re-innovates traditional, local cuisine with a flair of western touch mainly found in the presentation.
Each of the services and features individually are high quality, in sum and added up with the emotional connections that my colleagues offer, The Westin Nanjing will clearly be an outstanding five-star hotel.
MICE is well accepted as a new profit generator in the hospitality industry in China. What are your thoughts on using MICE to enhance profitability?
The MICE market as profit generator has always been in the focus of successful cities and hotels; not only the hotels and the conference center profit but the entire local industry, directly or working indirectly for the service industry. It creates a lot of employment opportunities and rounds up any destination to make it complete in its offers.
What are your plans for expanding the MICE market in 2011?
A hotel alone cannot expand a MICE market, only Nanjing can position itself as MICE destination through an big offer of exhibition and conference facilities, good infrastructure and attractive leisure and tourism periphery.
The Westin Nanjing will support the government to achieve this by making sure it will offer the finest service and features and thus be attractive to make our guests return and remember not only The Westin Nanjing but also Nanjing as destination.
If a business customer stays in Nanjing for three to four days and wants to get a feel for this city, what would you advise them to experience?
They must certainly try the local cuisine, visit XuanWu Lake and the Purple Mountain, and see the Sun-Ya-Tsen Mausoleum as and the Confucius temple.
What is your management philosophy? How to increase employee satisfaction in order to increase customers satisfaction?
My management philosophy is to offer an environment where everybody will get a chance to develop. However, it is in everybody's own hand to motivate himself and develop. We at The Westin Nanjing offer a motivating development culture and a fair and transparent promotion structure. What I always tell the new arriving team members is that 80-85% of motivation must come from within; if one is not motivated by himself in what he does, he or she should not do it.
An employer must create a structure within which the employee can fully reach his potential, feel understood, feel special yet part of a family and also have the feeling that he controls the situation. Employers must observe, recognize good performers, offer a clean environment and all the tools necessary to perform a job safely and supportive.
I think if this is all given, employees will feel valued and trust the employer. They will be loyal and ensure that the employer will be successful.
I strongly believe that Starwood Hotels & Resorts China – of which The Westin Nanjing is a part of – is also so successful in developing hotels because we embrace the above principles; many of our team members joined us because they heard that Starwood is really good at developing people and therefore Starwood shows an above industry-average employee retention level. People might leave Starwood for personal reasons, yet many of them return and if they cannot for whatever reason, they always refer to us as a great employer.
As result, if people want to work for you, they will offer automatically good service and increase guest satisfaction.