Ritz-Carlton Hotels wants to double its presence in China in three years, and Langham Hotels International wants to add six Chinese properties to their books in as much time, says the Global Times. These chains and others are seeking to expand their presence in second-tier cities, which are adapting to consumption habits exhibited by first-tier cities.
However, “if you build it, they will come” does not apply in these instances. The luxury hotel industry faces several challenges as brands open more doors in the second-tier cities. The greatest may be lack of qualified staff. When Ritz-Carlton opened a 277-room property this October in Tianjin, they needed reinforcements from outside the local workforce. “We flew about 90 experienced members of staff from across the globe to Tianjin and trainers provided training to on-site ladies and gentlemen before they met the first guest,” said Michelle Caporicci, regional vice president at Ritz-Carlton Asia Pacific. They also hired a French general manager with more than a decade’s experience in the industry, in addition to a Chinese manager who has had extensive experience working for Ritz Carlton in the United States.
Brett Butcher, CEO of the hotel division of Great Eagle Holdings, the parent company of Langham Hotels, said fostering a selection of local, mid-level managers would be key to developing upscale hotels in China’s emerging cities.
In addition to the Ritz-Carlton at Tianjin, the brand opened a Chengdu location recently. The luxury hotel expansion coincides with the government’s call for lean spending, but Caporicci said Ritz-Carlton’s hotels in China have a small share of government business so they have not been as severely impacted as other brands.
photo credit: ritz-carlton chengdu