Are You Asking Your Business Event Hotel in China The Right Questions?
As a Business Event Organiser, you know that choosing the right accommodation is critical, but are you asking the right questions? It is easy to book a hotel based on brand and location, but if you need to arrange a great event, the best business event, you need to dig deeper.
In Beijing or Shanghai, there are over 600 hotels you could host your event at. You’ll need to choose one near your business event, if it isn’t being held at the hotel, taking into account the agenda for touring and traffic considerations as well as consider the hotel brand. You could stop here and still have a good event, but if you want to ensure you have really chosen the very best possible option, you’ll need a to ask a few more questions and enlist a little local knowledge.
When is a Brand not a Brand?
One of the biggest attractions of choosing a well-known brand is that it is a known entity. For example, you don’t need to go to every Sheraton in the world to know what a Sheraton is like. Their brand is about building trust. Unfortunately, when you go into places like China, a brand that is outstanding at home might be unrecognisable in your destination, and suddenly the decision becomes a lot more difficult. This isn’t to say that there aren’t great big brand hotels to be found, you just need a little local expertise to know which ones are great, and which ones might be a disappointment when you arrive.
The Devil is in the Detail
When finding the best hotel for your conference or business event, the devil is in the detail. Sure the room is comfortable, but how is the coffee? This question is often overlooked but a small detail like this can have a big impact on a delegate’s experience. A great cup of coffee is the only way many can start the day, yet can sometimes be a challenge, even in the best of hotels. Breakfast has also been shown to be a critical factor in overcoming jet lag and travel “weariness” yet varies so dramatically around the world. A good breakfast and a great cup of coffee can reduce the feeling of being away from home, and set a delegate up for the day. Focusing on these seemingly inconsequential details can mean the difference between choosing a place to stay for the night and creating an amazing business event experience.
Big Ideas, Small Cities
While even small cities in China can be big, having an event outside of what is referred to as the “big six” can mean your choice of hotels becomes much more limited. Finding a 5-star hotel in Tianjin won’t be on your radar until suddenly you have a delegation going there. There may be no brand names that you recognise and what a local operator considers a “good hotel” can be vastly different to what you would consider as one.
The Toilet Test
Arriving at a hotel three hours out of Lhasa for an event once, one business traveller was shocked to find the toilet facilities in the main lobby were a trough running down the middle of a tiled room. With visions of what the rooms must be like, plans were promptly changed to return to Lhasa at the end of the day. Despite being promised this was a “good quality” hotel, expectations were certainly not met. This type of “lost in translation” moment occurs all the time.
While most Business delegations or event travellers will not find themselves in remote Tibet, that moment of feeling like “I do not want to be here” can happen anywhere in the world and it can be the nail in the coffin for your business event. In order to avoid this, you need someone on the ground that knows the right questions to ask. Having some local knowledge can help, but they also need to understand the social background in order to understand the local perspective. On top of that, they need to understand the expectations of the business event organiser. For most business travellers an open trough toilet block is completely unacceptable, but in rural China, it’s better that a spade!
Beyond Booking Hotels
The challenge doesn’t stop once you’ve found accommodation. Do you know where to get the best local cuisine, which doctor to call if someone gets sick or how to arrange a band? It is just as important to know the right questions, and the right answers based on both detailed local knowledge and an understanding of the expectations of your delegates.
Plan to Succeed
In China, asking if a hotel is “good” just won’t cut it for business event travel, and that is why the relationship between the hotel and the Business Event travel operator is crucial to success. Next time you book a hotel in China for business event travel find out more than the brand and the location, find out how good the coffee is and what the breakfast is like (and be sure to check for trough toilets). Or better yet, find a partner on the ground that understands the expectations of your company, one that already knows where to get the best coffee, and make your next business event great.
Download our Business Event Planner with a complete list of all the things you need to check off to ensure a successful event.