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Spreading the care

Interview with Sandy Murray, General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Beijing

According to your rich experience with Hilton properties in many other Asian countries, how do you think the Chinese MICE market compares to its peers?

People in today’s world hear on a daily basis about the positive changes realized in China over the last 20 years – with leading examples like the Olympics and the fantastic “Bird’s Nest” stadium to Shanghai’s Expo. Many (including myself) have never seen a country that can transform itself so fast. In my country (Australia) it can take years and years for change to happen, so it is great to be part of a culture that embraces change, which will impact deeply on the China MICE market and bring more opportunities and challenges.

 

Beijing is a burgeoning MICE hub in the domestic market. What positive impact has this city brought to your MICE sector business?

As I just mentioned, Beijing is leading the change and adapting to new opportunities as they happen. MICE organizers make new demands from increased guest safety to more creative offerings for themed events. I have seen how the city not only complies with but exceeds requirements to ensure we do not lose to other host countries. I have found the local authorities very supportive when we have had to ask for assistance if a guest has any issues and they really help us to look after them and leave a positive impression.

 

Your hotel has received an array of MICE awards in recent years. Could you share with us your secrets for success?

It’s true we have won several keys awards in recent years, including Best MICE hotel, Best Garden MICE Hotel and Best Business hotel. All the rewards are the recognition for all of team members. I attribute this to two key things - genuine engagement and empowerment to make the decision they know to be correct.We have many training classes for team members in each section. We build trust by coaching and mentoring to ignite their enthusiasm, and then let them get on with making their own decisions. A recent key initiative that demonstrates this was that all organizers receive a special welcome pack on arrival at the hotel that gives them assistance in holding the meeting at the hotel.

 

DoubleTree by Hilton features its CARE culture and devotes to public services. What relevant events has your hotel participated in recently or will have in the near future?

Interestingly, research shows that team members are 30% more engaged in their work if they are involved in community work – I firmly believe all organizations need to do their part for the community – it’s the community that gives us life – so we need to make a return. We have a long time relationship with the China Beijing Primary School and Bethel, an unofficial charity that assists blind and visually impaired orphans. The hotel’s Care Committee members and hotel management visit Bethel regularly to take care of the children, clean and fix their house. Last year, we donated $5,000 to Bethel for their sustainable farm. Travel with Purpose™ is Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to provide shared value to its business and communities around the world, and we also join the event every year. “Teaching Kids to Care” is another activity we always participate in with Beijing Primary School, like teaching the kids to take care of the environment, care for seniors … For the coming “Hilton Worldwide Global Week of Service”, our hotel is preparing more events to show that we CARE.

 

What other unique attributes outline the concept and spirit of your hotel culture?

The great thing about DoubleTree by Hilton is it embraces so many unique core initiatives from the unique Welcome Cookie on check in, Lightstay where meeting organizers are able to calculate their individual environmental impact to small things like 24-hour gym access or the healthy DoubleTree breakfast while encompassing the many local delights from tea station, congee & noodle station. Then as operator, we are encouraged to take all areas to the next service level. At DoubleTree by Hilton Beijing, for example, we provide the meeting organizer welcome pack. The 3,000 SQM “Secret Garden” is one attractive element for our MICE market which makes us stand out in this city as well as the art status which provides a beautiful hotel feel.