The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Better Late Than Never. Especially When Everyone Else Is Still Late …
July 19, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Remember that post where I said Asian Governments and businesses were more focused on attracting foreign investment and tourism than their Western counterparts?

Well it’s pleasing to see that Starwood and Hilton hotels have finally got off their arses and evolved their offering so that they actively appeal to Asian guests rather than continually expecting them to adapt to Western tastes and habits.

Despite the major step in the right direction, I do find it tragically amusing that Starwood Chief Executive, Frits van Paasschen, said:

“I know how daunting it is to step into a country for the first time so we want to make sure that when Chinese travellers go outside of China for the first time, whether for business of pleasure, that they are as comfortable as possible.”

So I assume for the previous 25 odd years, neither Starwood or Hilton gave a flying fuck about making their Chinese guests feel comfortable when outside of their home country.

There is a major issue they’re missing …

In many cases, Chinese hotel guests – especially those traveling for business – actively choose to not stay in an expensive international hotel.

They may eat or meet people there, but in terms of where they choose to stay, there are some fundamental differences in what they look for.

A while ago, I did some work on the differences between Western and Chinese business travelers and what we found was …

WEST EAST
Grandeur Comfort
Social Practical
“Deserve It” “Earn It”
Their Money My Money
Work, Rest & Play Work & Rest
International Food Local Food
Indulgence Purposeful
Rest Stop Pit Stop

Of course, not everyone thinks/acts this way – however there was some data we got our hands on, that showed the average Chinese business traveler valued very different things to the average Western business traveller and almost universally, international hotels were not catered to these requirements.

[International hotels tended to base their ‘Asian credentials’ on an aesthetic or a cuisine choice rather than appreciating what many really valued and were willing to spend their money on]

Saying that, I think it was a smart move for Starwood to temporarily move its headquarters to Shanghai for a month [though if I strip away the PR hype, I assume what they really did was send some of their Head Office people to their Shanghai office for a month] though I still stand by my view that more companies should be globally located in this part of the World because they know way more about the West than the West know about Asia.


44 Comments so far
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The average western business traveller can be a bit of a jerk can’t he?

Comment by John

Especially the ones who wear birkenstocks.

Comment by Billy Whizz

average is being way too fucking complimentary about campbell.

what the fuck must the fancy airport fucking lounges and hotels think when that fucker bursts through their doors with his ticket in his hand. i mean after the thought where they want to call security to get him out of their sight as soon as is fucking possible.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh, is this a sarcastic comment at me? Surely not.

Comment by Rob

youre fucking mr sharp as a fucking tack arent you.

Comment by andy@cynic

I love the gradual build up of this insult 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

They won’t be happy when their noodles and dumpling meal costs 10,000 times more than they would normally pay at their local hole in the wall.

Am I wrong to say I found this post a bit interesting?

Sorry Andy.

Comment by DH

You’re wrong to say it in public.

You’re going to die.

Comment by Billy Whizz

thats insight billy boy.

what the fuck is going on with you dave? you cant still be hungover unless 1) a fucking wimp 2) youre mimicing oli reed.

explain your fucking self. and whatever it is, its not going to justify being nice about campbells bollocks. twice. for 2 fucking days in a row.

Comment by andy@cynic

What about suicidal? Not sure if that happened before or after the compliment.

Comment by DH

The cost increase is a good point Dave, especially from a personal traveler perspective. Hell, I get shocked when I’m back in a Western country and they try and charge me US$3 for a small bowl of rice, let alone the ridiculous costs they try and get away with their dim sum menu.

Comment by Rob

@Peggy. 10,000% was meant to be an overestimate.

Comment by DH

Has Peggy (or pp for short) struck again?

As regular as clockwork or my evening whisky chaser. After my whisky.

Comment by Billy Whizz

it almost (only almost lol) pains me to say that if something is 10,000 more expensive it didnt become 10,000% more expensive. this would be a massive understatement. but overestimate on your terms then 😛

Comment by peggy

*10,000 times*

Comment by peggy

And wanting to make guests “as comfortable as possible” is code for “as expensively as possible” – largely because western business travellers don’t admit what they really want – which I’d think is closer to the eastern side of the list than the western one.

Comment by John

tell that to that french imf fucker, he seemed very fucking capable of getting what he wanted. french fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

You mean the champagne socialist?

Comment by Rob

Can you explain what you mean when you say “Western travelers don’t admit what they really want” John, because the list above is attitudinal [bar the food] not descriptive and I think that is a very fair reflection of what they want.

Just interested.

Comment by Rob

Partly, I was looking at the lists and thinking the eastern one was aligned much more with what i would want than the western one.

Partly, I looked at the western one and saw the excuses for overcharging that exist in so many hotels (coincidentally someone sent me a liink this week to a dutch hotel that had a sign on the minibar announcing a daily 15 euro “corkage” charge if the guest kept stored anything else in it).

And partly I smelled prompted responses in the list – especially with regard to that word grandeur. What type of person asks for a hotel that has grandeur?

Can I ask how these attitudinal responses were derived?

Comment by John

Those terms weren’t literal expressions of what people said – they were terms that encapsulated what we felt were the underpinning needs/wants/hopes of the people we studied.

There was a whole host of methodologies – and it went on for fucking months – so if you don’t mind, I’ll tell you when I see you [Next week?] rather than spend ages writing up exploration techniques covering everything from data analysis, company [ie: secretarial] and hotel [ie: concierge] interviews and company report analysis to name but a very, very, very few.

Comment by Rob

That prospect thrills me.

(Even if grandeur was an agency term, I still think it exemplifies the ego-driven approach of the western list)

Comment by John

You’re only human. Maybe.

Comment by Rob

How can anyone move their HQ for a month? It took me 6 weeks to pack my flat and that’s fucking smaller than Baz. Hate to say this Rob, but you’re right that’s bullshit hype in full flow.

When you say most hotels have used an aesthetic to be more Asian, is that like the inside of Asian Ass strip club because if it is, they need to not let their carpet be so sticky.

Comment by Billy Whizz

lovely picture youve painted there billy. good work.

Comment by andy@cynic

You mean tidy your apartment, not pack.

Comment by Bazza

remember when hilton meant posh?

the chinese probably stay there because they think its that spoilt pink loving bitches house.

ok dave, youre semi let off the fucking hook, its quite good. he slags a company, explains why they still might be fucked and goes on another of his pro asia rants. its a good 4/10. that doesnt make it interesting but its less shit than the shit he normally churns out.

Comment by andy@cynic

Saved.

Comment by DH

Ambulance for Andy. Ambulance for Andy.

Comment by Billy Whizz

yes, i need them to help billy who has suddenly and unexpectedly had all his fucking teeth fall out and had his nose splatter all over his fucking face.

Comment by andy@cynic

It would be an honor to be smashed in the face by you.

Comment by Billy Whizz

have to agree with john’s sentiment here. the average eastern traveller appears to be way more real than the westerner.

im wondering if its inherent and a matter of decency or just financial restrictions in the company, probably both i guess; and if this will change over time, assuming there will be more and more profit made in the future and companies/people become more accustomed to debauchery…

Comment by peggy

and by financial restrictions i mean self-imposed more than not having the financial means available

Comment by peggy

A lot of it is because the money being spent is the families money – personal or company – and as such, their expenditure is filtered by the ‘family needs’ as opposed to many Western business travelers who – as the table explains – think they ““Deserve It”and it’s “Their [as in their companies] Money” and as such, can indulge in the moment without any fear of guilt or reprisals.

Will this change? Not sure … but in terms of financial power, there’s a hell of a lot of Chinese that leave the Westerners in the dust so I don’t think it’s purely down to that.

Comment by Rob

i like the family needs approach. but im afraid that western ‘values’ (if those should be called values in that context is anyones guess. looks more like hey, no one gives a fuck. fuck you all. i deserve it) might get a chance to infiltrate, carried on the back of individualistic consumerism, and spoil the laudable attitude over time… another point that comes to my mind is what kind of family-thinking is applied in answering questions, i.e. saying what you want vs what would be expected. youve mentioned this sort of difficulties in the psfk video i remember…

Comment by peggy

That’s right Peggy, that’s why the focus group approach in Asia is inherently flawed and not the methodology we used to get this information.

Comment by Rob

Good post Rob. I like the contrast between Western and Asian business traveler mindsets, highlighted by your findings that high end international hotels may have Chinese guests for dinner, but not for stay. Very interesting. Who did you do this research for? Was it a hotel group?

Comment by Bazza

It was for a well known and well respected Asian hotel group Baz.

It was done a few years ago and so things may have changed/evolved somewhat – but data I’ve seen recently makes me think it’s still quite representative of many Asian/Western business travelers attitude towards their accommodation requirements.

Comment by Rob

Fruit + geographic description by any chance?

Comment by Bazza

You should be a crossword creator.

Comment by Rob

Banana Republic? Ugli Occidental? Orange Isthmus?

I hate crosswords.

Comment by John

this post makes a bit of sense to me and i found it enlightening too. i have a dear friend, indian descent, who travels a stupid amount each year for work (340 days). his travel attitude is concurrent with that eastern column. i assumed it was because of the amount of travel, not the cultural influence. but you’re probably right.

me, however, i’m a western slag and still super-excited to be fuckin’ staying somewhere that has someone else change the sheets. and when i treat the staff like shit, i get to pretend that i’m a superstar. 😉

Comment by lauren

Next time, throw a telly out the window and feel like a real superstar. Actually, if you throw it out, you would be a superstar – at least to me.

Comment by Rob

So if they’re being so nice to the chinese, will the hilton rename their chinese restaurant to restaurant?

Comment by Billy Whizz




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