LUXURY group The Peninsula Hotels is aggressively courting the lucrative Chinese market with a number of new initiatives this year, including tailored experiences in its US hotels and lifestyle programmes in its Greater China properties.
Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily, The Peninsula Hotels vice president, sales, Simon Yip, said Chinese guests currently comprised around 10-12 per cent of the customer mix across its nine properties worldwide, but he expects the market to account for at least 20 per cent by 2014.
He said: “The China market contributes 40-50 per cent of the mix for Shanghai and Beijing, 16-18 per cent for Hong Kong, seven per cent for Bangkok, four to five per cent for Tokyo, and still a small percentage for Manila and our three US hotels but it has huge potential.
“(Chinese guests) tend to pick the higher room types or the suite categories. This is good for us in terms of yield.”
Yip singled out two new programmes catering to the market. One is a Lifestyle Academy in Peninsula’s Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing hotels. Guests are assigned style experts who offer professional shopping advice and are taught how to host dinner parties, from table etiquette to menu selection.
“Chinese travellers are fast becoming affluent travellers and want to enjoy the good things in life. Unfortunately, because of rapid growth in China, they might not always get the chance to…There’s a desire to learn,” he explained.
When Peninsula’s 10th property opens in Paris at the end of next year, it will have similar initiatives and there will also be a Cantonese restaurant.
Another programme is The Very Best of America by The Peninsula, which can be found in New York, Beverly Hills and Chicago. The aim is to allow Chinese travellers to have quintessential American experiences, while still feeling “at home”.
Yip pointed out that for the many families who were visiting to scout around for American universities, the hotels would help in the research process and offer services such as limousine rides to campuses and translators. Tickets to Broadway shows and baseball games, as well as Chinese breakfasts are also examples of what can be provided.
When asked if Peninsula would create a separate brand to reach out to Chinese guests, Yip said: “We are focused on strengthening our Peninsula brand and don’t want to deviate from that. There is a fine line between being Chinese-friendly and becoming too Chinese.”