It’s my last day in Shanghai. Time for packing, reflection and buying toys for my kids.
This morning I took one last trip on foot to see a few hotels nearby. The closer I looked, the more I saw—at least five within a block of where I’m staying: the Charms Hotel, The Howard Johnson Plaza, The Starway Hotel, The Majesty Plaza and a Langham property.
|I took this picture on my last night in Shanghai, which shows the Bund and the tourists walking the riverside. It strikes me as very similar to a photo we ran with a story in 2009.
On my tour yesterday of other Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide brands in the market, I saw some great examples of how one company can differentiate its products. Even though Four Points by Sheraton here is considered 4-star, there are clear differentiators between it and Le Méridien, Westin and Sheraton.
I’m saving most of the comments from sales staff and GMs for a story to come, but one common point among the hoteliers I visited is that meetings, incentive, convention and exhibition business is crucially important—especially coming off a banner year of the World Expo. Whether from local companies or corporate accounts, last year’s strong occupancy numbers are putting the pressure on hoteliers to replace the demand. Fortunately, they feel as if the city government is on their side, as it has set out to make Shanghai the most popular tourist destination in China by 2015, according to Andreas Trauttmansdorff, GM at the Westin Bund Center Shanghai. He’s only been at the property four months, but he’s a self-proclaimed heritage Sheraton man, which also means he’s adept at learning about markets.
Trauttmansdorff also said it could take Shanghai 10 years to strengthen rate against the new supply, which reached its peak growth rate probably last year and is now coming back down. He also said 90% to 95% occupancy during the World Expo last year was achieved often at a lower rate.
This is a little different than what I’ve heard from discussions in the United States, where people talk of China as a place with infinite demand. It’s not the only misconception that has been dispelled while I was here, but it might be the most impactful.
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