The 2017 China Hotel Marketing Conference (HMC), a two-day industry gathering of China’s travel and hospitality sectors hosted by TravelDaily China and ChinaTravelNews, celebrated a successful conclusion on June 8 at Yuluxe Sheshan Tribute Portfolio Hotel in Shanghai.
The annual conference hosted this year focused on “Reshaping The Experience” for a new generation of guests and attracted more than 650 senior executives from companies in the hotel and related industries, including global hotel chains, budget hotel operators, boutique and individual hotels, online travel agencies, hotel tech firms, digital marketing institutes, investors and media outlets.
More than 60 distinguished guests were invited to speak at the 2017 HMC. They hail from China Tourism Association, BTG Homeinns Hotels, Wyndham Hotel Group, IHG, Hampton by Hilton China, HNA, Club Med, HUAZHU Hotels (China Lodging Group), Hengda Hotels & Resorts, Ctrip, Fliggy, Meituan Dianping, TripAdvisor, Tujia, Tencent and Baidu.
With the diversification of hotel guests and the emergence of a new generation of consumers, customer needs are driving the revolution in the hospitality sector. Technological innovations are also spurring the transformation of communication between hotels and their guests. Other than satisfying consumers’ basic accommodation needs, how should hotels offer more diversified and unique services to reshape guest experience?
To answer this question, the 2017 HMC staged various panel sessions, including:
“The Extension, Integration and Transformation of Accommodation”
“How Can International Brands Better Serve Chinese Guests' Needs and Experience”
“From Hotel Marketing to Destination Marketing”
“How Will Hotels Improve Bookings and Conversion from The New Generation of Guests”
“Hotel Reputation Management - Gaining a Foothold in the Competition”
“Explore Cooperation Formats between Hotels and Distribution Channels”
Joseph Wang, CCO of TravelDaily China, delivered the opening remarks for the conference on “Reshaping The Future of Guest Experience.” Recounting his own experience as a hotel guest amid the transition of China’s hotel industry, Mr. Wang said hotel guests were treated like “walking paper orders” and personalized service was lacking. While the industry is evolving with new needs and new technologies, customers should remain the key focus of the hospitality industry.
Mr. Joseph Wang, CCO of TravelDaily China
Rungang Zhang, Secretary General and Vice President of China Tourism Association, gave a keynote speech on “China's Hospitality Trends Outlook 2017.” Based on the financial data of China’s listed hotel companies in the first quarter this year, the industry has shown signs of recovery. But Mr. Zhang observed that the fundamentals of China’s traditional hotel sector haven’t changed as traditional hotels are yet to be proactive in fighting their competitors.
Rungang Zhang, Secretary General and Vice President of China Tourism Association
In the CEO Talk panel of “The Extension, Integration and Transformation of Accommodation,” David Sun, General Manager of BTG Homeinns Hotels, and Leo Liu, President of Wyndham Hotel Group China, shared their insights into how hospitality should innovate and how traditional hotels should learn from their emerging competitors to keep an eye on the key elements of new-generation guest experience. The panelists also reflected on whether Homeinns Hotels should go public in China’s domestic stock market after its merger with BTG Hotels, as well as the game plan between hotels and OTAs.
From left to right: Charlie Li, CEO of TravelDaily China; David Sun, General Manager of BTG Homeinns Hotels; Leo Liu, President of Wyndham Hotel Group China
On “How Can International Brands Better Serve Chinese Guests' Needs and Experience,” the panelists agreed that the true value of domestic hotel groups’ teaming up with international brands is to consolidate local strengths and international brand systems to achieve “1+1>2.” The trend of linking up domestic hotels and international chains is irreversible.
From left to right: Xianfeng Li, Senior Vice President & President of Upscale Hotel Business Unit, Dossen International Group; Elton Sun, Corporate Executive Vice President, HUAZHU Hotels Group; Gloria Wang, President, Hampton by Hilton China; Kevin Liu, Chief Brand Marketing Officer, Vienna Hotels Group
During the discussion on “From Hotel Marketing to Destination Marketing,” Michael Chen, Executive President of Mangrove Tree Resort World, pointed out that the vacation business is about selling time instead of guestrooms. HNA-PV President & CEO Nong Xia mentioned that China’s holiday resorts are with great natural environment and amenities but short of good operation. Mr. Xia said that the Chinese resorts need to address the problem of lacking a business model.
From left to right: Joseph Xia, Founder & CEO, Yearth Group; Ethan Zhu, Chief Commercial Officer, China, TripAdvisor; Olivia Chen, VP Digital & Marketing of Great China, Club Med; William Tang, Deputy General Manager, Hengda Hotels & Resorts; Michael Chen, Executive President, Mangrove Tree Resort World; Nong Xia, President & CEO, HNA-PV
On "How Will Hotels Improve Bookings and Conversion from The New Generation of Guests," the panelists agreed that simply tagging guests according to their ages will be not helpful. Leo Yao, Vice President of Marketing of Zhuyou Hotels Group, elaborated that the overall booking habits and consumer patterns of hotel guests look increasingly younger as the current consumers aged 30 or above have been using the internet for a long time.
From left to right: Leo Yao, Vice President of Marketing, Zhuyou Hotels Group; Wei Lu, Senior Manager, Business Consulting & Client Service, SapientRazorfish; Stephen Zhao, Commercial Product Operation, VP, iPinYou; Vingo Fu, CEO, New Century E-commerce Company; Yu Yu, BU President, METROPOLO JINJIANG HOTELS
For the Executive Roundtable talk on hotel reputation management, Frankie Huang, Founder & CEO, TripInsight, said that other than the reviews submitted after guest stays, hotels should also keep a close eye on the reviews made during stays. Hotel reviews reflect customer preference and can be introduced to hotels’ CRM data. By analyzing clearer user profiles, hotels can improve their guest experience sooner than after-stay.
From left to right: Feng Lu, CEO, The East Hotel Hangzhou; Doris Chen, GM Assistant, White Swan Hotel, Guangzhou; Frankie Huang, Founder & CEO, TripInsight; Xinyu Xie, General Manager, National Media Division, Gridsum
One of the most eye-catching sessions of this conference is the talk of “Explore Cooperation Formats between Hotels and Distribution Channels.” Ctrip COO Maria Sun said during the session: “Hotel guests, regardless of those from direct sales channels or from third-party distribution channels, are customers to hotels, and Ctrip is only a complementary channel in addition to hotels’ own platforms. But since the service chain between a consumer’s pre-stay and post-stay periods is very long and Ctrip has a full-service chain of offerings, the company can be a great supplement to hotels’ services.”
From left to right: Vivian Hong, President, Asia Pacific, Travelzoo; Kevin Guo, VP, Meituan Dianping; Will Shao, Director, Distribution Strategy Greater China, IHG; Ingrid Yin, Assistant President, Jinling Hotels & Resorts Corporation; David Chai, Vice President, Fliggy; Maria Sun, COO, Ctrip
As to commission rates, Ms. Sun said that she believes in “What is rational is actual and what is actual is rational.” Ms. Sun also mentioned that Ctrip hopes to maintain the existing commission rates. But her counterpart, Kevin Guo, VP of Meituan Dianping, disagreed: “It is possible to lower the commission rates as long as there’s adequate competition in the market. OTAs should leverage their technologies to improve distribution efficiencies and help hotels gross more revenues.”
On “Beyond Guestrooms,” most guest speakers agreed that hotels’ ancillary services are still in the story-telling stage. However, Eric Lu, General Manager of Spring Investment, said that the company is mulling over the idea of providing destination services to its customers in addition to guestroom booking and accommodation, in an effort to attract more free independent travelers.
Xueshan Yang, CEO, Tsingpu; David Long, Vice President, UCAR Inc.; Eric Lu, General Manager, Spring Investment; Conway Zheng, VP, Marketing, Atour; Guofeng Tai, General Manager of Hotels for Mass Market, BTG Homeinns Hotels
The 2017 HMC added a new session of “Presentation & Judging of Innovative Accommodation Products.” The champion voted by judges was Wonderland RV Camp by New Century Manju Hotel, while the winner voted by the audience was Sleeping In Airport by Xi'an Simple Hotel Management.
Wonderland RV Camp was the first RV camp resort by New Century Hotels, providing revelers, family tourists and even business travelers with RV camp based holiday experience.
The Hotel Innovation Marketing Award, a featured session of HMC every year, recognizes the most innovative hotel marketing case study of the past year. Girlfriends Travel by homestay brand Home Away From Home was voted the winner by both judges voting and audience this year.
Du Jin, Founder and CEO of Home Away From Home, said that 18 female entrepreneurs from different walks of life have taken part in this Girlfriends Travel campaign. The campaign carried out integrated marketing strategies by consolidating different homestay, travel and property products, attracting around 10 million live viewers across different online platforms. The company received partnership invitation from more than 20 crossover brands, according to Ms. Jin.