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Digging the “Gold Mine” of China: Now Is the Time

Frits van Paasschen, the President and CEO of Starwood, talked about the outlook of lodging industry in an interview with CNBC, such as business demands, spending trends, and highlights of several geographic locations. China, of course, was mentioned several times.

Last summer, I shared with you that Starwood was opening a new hotel in China every other week. Today, Starwood still has 100 projects on the way. It may seem obvious that Starwood is doing very well in China.

Outside the mainland, I also feel Starwood is doing a great job in capturing the business opportunities from China. For example, Starwood’s top executives actually “lived” in Shanghai last summer to get “localized” by the Chinese culture and learn the “Chinese way” of doing business. Recently, Starwood is making a system-wide initiative to welcome the Chinese outbound travelers. Properties in the U.S. are required to add Chinese items in the restaurant and room service menus, make different amenities available (e.g., tea kettle and slippers), and provide Chinese-speaking service upon request.

Sheraton Suzhou Hotel & Towers, China

Starwood reported a strong EPS (earnings per share) in the second quarter. Even though I am unable to estimate how much the Chinese market had contributed to the account, I believe that Starwood’s initiative of catering to Chinese tourists was an important factor. Indeed, the more we invest in a market, the more we will understand the customers, and the more we can secure in return.        

It really is the time to invest in the Chinese market. I believe there are other hotels that are taking similar approach as Starwood does to welcome Chinese travelers. What other examples do you see? Do you think that the lodging industry is doing well in catering to the Chinese market? Why or why not? What else can be done?

Relevant discussions:

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References:
The picture of Sheraton Hotel Suzhou was downloaded from the website of Sheraton Suzhou.

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