International hotel brands begin indigenization in China

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/8 16:48:39

Benoît-Etienne Domenget, the CEO of Sommet Education Photo: Courtesy of Sommet Education

In 1982, The Peninsula Hong Kong entered Jianguo Hotel in Beijing, which was the first foreign-funded hotel to come to China. Over the next 35 years, all kinds of international hotel brands are blooming everywhere. Foreign-funded hotel brands are changing gradually and indigenization has become the common view within the industry.

Hilton recently appointed Qian Jin to be the Chinese and Mongolian regional president. This is the first time that the luxury brand has appointed a Chinese employee as a region president. This appointment coincided with the Hilton's milestone of opening their 100th hotel in China, with 230 hotels currently under construction. Before Qian was appointed, several important staff members from China entered the leading team of the Hilton China region.

Intercontinental Hotels Group, another hotel giant, introduced the plan of "bring fancy carp back to the native place" in China to attract more excellent hotel talents to return to their home country, providing more inter-regional flow and self-improvement opportunities for them. For Kempinski Group, indigenization has gone deep into every aspect of its business. About 95 percent of the brand's employees are Chinese and the fifth Chinese general manager will soon take over the position.

"Twenty years ago, when foreign-funded hotels entered the Chinese market, there was no doubt that all general managers, chief financial officers, marketing officers and chief public relation officers were foreigners, but the phenomenon has totally changed nowadays," said Michael Henssler, the director of operations of Kempinski Group. "We can find similar and even better talent in China nowadays."

Benoît-Etienne Domenget, the CEO of Sommet Education, a Swiss-based world leading hotel management education group, believes that talent localization is of great importance for the development of foreign brands in China.

"The drastic competition of the hotel industry in China is full of all kinds of uncertainties for foreign-funded hotel brands. For example, the obvious cultural differences, the economic development disparities of different regions in China, the lack of management personnel and unique client patterns of consumption are playing important roles in the success of the brands in China," said Domenget.

 "Local talent plays a decisive role in the development, expansion and operation of foreign-funded hotels. On the one hand, talent localization could greatly compress the operating costs to realize the benefit maximization of the hotel; on the other hand, local talent understands the Chinese market better, which is also the decisive factor of the development result of the hotel."

Revealed by the World Tourism Organization, China has surpassed the US to be the largest tourists exporting country; while for domestic tourism, data from the National Tourism Administration revealed that the general income of tourism of the whole country reached 4.69 trillion yuan ($698 billion), with a year-on-year growth of 13.6 percent, and the number of tourists domestically exceeded 4.44 billion people. At the same time, up to the end of 2016, the number of starred hotels in China surpassed 12,000, including many international luxury brands. The rising numbers show that professional talents in the hotel industry are urgently needed.

Sommet Education, Gilon Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, world-famous hotel management colleges, provide education services for students from more than 100 countries globally.

"The rapidly developing hotel industry in China has been facing the difficulty of talent shortages. The talent that the Chinese market needs are those who know about the Chinese market, have internationalized backgrounds, excellent language competence and profound insight and understanding about the industry," said Domenget.

"Graduates from Les Roches are exactly the talents needed because they receive authentic hotel management education in an internationalized teaching environment in Swiss and are equipped with rich industrial experience, which provides them with large advantages for their further development."


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