Hong Kong's hotel business is booming, and hoteliers confidently anticipate a prosperous Year of the Pig.
Plusses the industry enjoys include Hong Kong's location as the gateway to China and its booming business opportunities, and the reputation as a perennial tourist attraction, specially with the special administrative region's 10th anniversary celebrations set for mid-year.
"It will be a busy year for us," says Gordon Fuller, general manager of Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. "First of all, the 10th anniversary will entail a series of events. Many of them will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre which is connected to our hotel by a covered walkway. Secondly, in the year prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, business activities in the region will continue to be vibrant. It is certain that the number of business travellers will continue to rise in 2007."
Mr Fuller also anticipates still more leisure travellers coming to see the city's attractions and visit peripheral areas like Macau. Vida Chow, the hotel's director of human resources adds, "Our business growth will also extend to the catering section for our local customers, since the Year of the Pig is regarded as a good year for weddings."
Consequently, the demand for people to join the hotel workforce is surging, not just for the Grand Hyatt but across the whole Hyatt group. "In China alone, more than 12 Hyatt hotels will be opened within three years," Mr Fuller notes. "With our promote-from-within policy, the group's development translates into many career development opportunities and a wider global exposure for our employees."
Despite the keen competition for talents in the marketplace, candidates for any job at the Grand Hyatt must go through a sequence of interviews in which the HR director, the department head concerned and the general manager are involved. "The senior employees will play a part in this process even if we are recruiting for an entry-level post," says Ms Chow. To maintain an exceptionally high standard, the hotel has established its own training academy where successful applicants get formal in-house training.
On top of promising career paths and competitive pay packages, the hotel offers employees more than financial benefits. The newly renovated office on the fifth floor overlooks Victoria Harbour, providing office staff with panoramic views of a sight tourists come from all over the globe to see. The workstations are specially arranged so that staff who spend the most time in the office are closest to the windows. Contrary to usual practice, the rooms for managers and other senior employees are farther away from the view.
The hotel prides itself as a trendsetter in providing desirable facilities and services to its guests. It was the first hotel here to set up an integrated recreational facility, the Plateau Residential Spa, offering broad choices of body and facial treatments. The 80,000-square foot oasis includes 23 residential accommodation suites and rooms, an outdoor heated swimming pool, fitness and exercise studios and a 400-metre jogging track. "Travellers tend to kill jet lag after a long flight by exercising or relaxing by taking spa treatments. Then they can go straight to meetings or start their sightseeing right away," Mr Fuller explains. "On average, every day we serve 60 treatments to our guests, an increase of about tenfold on the number when the spa was first established."
Ms Chow believes that knowing the needs of people is the key to success, applicable to both external and internal customers of the hotel. "We use a number of measures to achieve effective information exchange among different people across all levels. One of them is our weekly communication session called Hyattalk. It gathers 12 to 15 employees from different departments to discuss anything they want. Mr Fuller and I are always there to take minutes and ensure that every single issue is addressed promptly," she says. "We also have a communication channel called the Daily News to update all employees about the latest events and activities in the hotel. It is posted on the intranet as well as on the notice board in each department to ensure everyone can access it. Also, all the seniors need to 'walk the talk' by setting an example for their team members to follow."
Last year, employee turnover rate was a relatively low 12 per cent, far below the industry's average. Moreover, in recent annual employee opinion surveys, the hotel achieved high-end performance. Both Mr Fuller and Ms Chow agree that these positive results spring from enhanced communications within the organisation.