The True Nature of the Hotel Situation

Known as “The Top Event inChina’s Hotel Industry”, the Asia Hotel Forum (AHF) held its Baiyun International Hotel Forum and China HotelStarlight Awards in Guangzhou a few months ago. The most influential leadersand corporate utives joined representatives from Chinese tourism, airlines,and media industries from all Asian countries to share wisdom and discuss thehotel situation. As a hotel manager, investor, and connoisseur, Dr. Bin Chen,president of the Continental Hope Group, spoke toguests at the 2009 forum to discuss his ten years of experience in the hotelindustry.

Homeland “Master” Sets Foot on the Hotel Industry’s “Walk of Fame”

From March 20 to the 22, the 3rd Asia Hotel Forum (Asia Hotel Forum, orAHF) and the China Hotel Starlight Awards Presentation Ceremony were held atthe Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center. The previous twoconventions were very successful, attracting over 1,000 guests, including 60hotel groups and management companies, more than 300 experts and scholars, andother elites from the Asian hotel industry.

The forum was divided into foursections to discuss the current macroeconomic environment, the hotel industry,and development practices. Occurring at the same time was the “Chinese HotelIndustry’s Oscar Awards”, or the China Hotel Starlight Awards Ceremony, whichawards top hotels in Asia based on appearance. After being involved in thehotel industry for a decade and singlehandedly fostering and strengthening theHomeland chain, Dr. Bin Chen received recognition from the entire Asia-Pacificregion. This time, Dr. Chen was invited to guest host at the Forum anddelivered a wonderful speech entitled, “What Kind of Entrepreneur is Requiredto Sustainably Develop the Hotel Industry?” In addition, he attended the ChinaHotel Starlight Awards, where the “Best Designed Chinese Boutique Hotel” wasawarded to the Beijing Laffitte Castle Park, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, andthe Macau Venetian Hotel.

A FinancialTsunami Reaches the Core of the Hotel Industry

In his speech, Dr. Bin Chen discussed the 2008 American subprime mortgage crisis,and how it threw the whole Western economy into decline and triggered a globalfinancial crisis. Although it appeared not to have a significant effect onChina, no place actually escape unscathed from the global financial crisis. Inorder to save the Chinese economy, it was essential to rely on both governmentsupport and diligent efforts from duty-bound Chinese entrepreneurs.

Having been awarded the 3rd Chinese HotelStarlight Award for “Outstanding Chinese Hotel Industry utive”, Dr. BinChen also spoke about how hotel entrepreneurs should play a role in promotingthe development of the hotel industry in China. He believes that as a hotelmanager at the helm, one must have the spirit of innovation, in the businessmodel, management philosophy, and marketing strategy, since innovation is thesoul of sustainable development. Second, one must have a strong sense of socialresponsibility. Entrepreneurs have a responsibility to promote the healthydevelopment of the market in order to maximize the value to the country and thepeople, for the economic benefit of the whole society. Finally, one must haveforesight, and be able to see the big picture, and seek to promote marketdiversification across industries.

All along, Bin Chen had his own interpretation of theconcept of the Homeland International Hotel. When a reporter went to theHomeland Hotel for an interview, every member of staff, from the concierge,receptionist, or cleaning staff, took the initiative to greet the guest with asmile. “Homeland Hotels want to create a warm, romantic ‘home’ atmosphere.” As the“Master” of Homeland Hotels, Bin Chen discusses their service with a proudsmile, “We want every guest to enter Homeland with a sincere smile from servicepersonnel, so they feel comfortable, cozy, and at home.” Adhering to thephilosophy of service with a smile truly creates an invisible and “warm” atmosphere.

Bin Chen said that as much caregoes into choosing the location for a hotel as parents take in naming theirchildren. For Homeland Hotels, the process is centered on the word “home”.After showing off the beautiful and palatial Four Seasons Hall, Bin said,“Homeland passes this beautiful and romantic home to its guests, so that theymay remember such wonderful memories when they think of home.” Because of suchelaborate construction, only a year after it began operation on September 18,2003, Homeland Hotel was awarded a five-star assessment from the NationalTourism Administration to become one of the most highly-rated hotels inChengdu. In that year, when wedding bookings increased sharply, Bin Chen beganto focus on the wedding market. The hotel has launched a lawn wedding packageand other products hosted in the Four Seasons Hall, Fountainebleau Palace,Buckingham Place, and other venues to create excellent aesthetic quality. Today,Homeland Hotel is the top-ranked wedding hotel in China.

When There AreStorms, Responsibility Must Be “At the Helm”

In light of the fact that the current summit was takingplace in the midst of the global financial crisis, Bin Chen compared theexperience with his first summit. He said with a smile, “For my first Forum inMarch 2008, the economic situation was excellent and guests were in highspirits. This year, there are drastic changes. If last year was a smalldeciduous tree, this year is the time of wind, rain, and cold.”

Speaking about the dire economic situation, when the fateof the hotel industry hangs in the balance, Bin Chen returned to the reasonsfor China’s miraculous economic development. He believes it was the “threelows” of low labor costs, low resource costs, and low environmental costs thatwere the three engines driving the China train forward to create a miracleunprecendented in the world economy. At the moment, all three engines arestalled, and the effect of the global economic tsunami is also noticeable onthe Chinese hotel industry.

Faced with the storm of thefinancial crisis, Bin Chen believes that the entrepreneurs of the hotelindustry must be “at the helm” with a strong sense of responsibility, andshould “feel a sense of responsibility to the country, the nation, thebusiness, and the employees.” In Bin Chen’s view, successful entrepreneurs mustall have a strong sense of responsibility. “The company is like a family,employees are our family members, and a sense of responsibility will lead usthrough the storm and out the other side.”

The Growing Needfor Innovation

When the topic of what kind ofentrepreneur can bring sustainable development to the hotel industry arose, BinChen’s answer was that one must have the spirit of innovation. He believesinnovation is essential for developing the hotel industry’s path. What is ahotel? As civilization progressed, accommodations developed from primitive innsto places to meet, places to eat, places with private bathrooms, food, and thenflowers in the rooms… “If we don’t have innovation, how could we have imagined it?”Bin believes in alliances through marketing. At the same time, you can usehotel properties, resorts, real estate, and new models of urban planning formutual support and creation.

During his speech, Mr. Bin Chen’s wonderful argument andimpassioned method infected every guest, and applause, approval, andappreciation left the venue ringing when he was finished. After his speech, Mr.Bin Chen met with several of the biggest names in the industry to discuss theeffects of the financial crisis in more detail. They shared their own copingstrategies and discussed how to stimulate domestic demand through innovation,investment, and financing channels to get Chinese hotels out of the woods assoon as possible, and speed up the road to future development.

It is seductive, fascinating, and inspiring. Now I’min the second stage.

Building a hotel with a ship as the model is notunusual, and using a sailing theme to create an attractive hotel makes sense.

After coming back, I’m dreaming the same dream ofbuilding a sailboat hotel! Let the world come to know Chengdu through thishotel, and come to Chengdu in the future.

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