2009 is coming to an end; the year started with a severe hangover from the worldwide financial crisis that saw the second half of 2008 create a lot of turmoil in the industry.
At the start of 2009 hotels were empty and hiring frozen. Around February/March when in China a lot of employment contracts start (and end) many hoteliers still found their contracts not renewed and faced lay off. But that was, for China and recruitment for hotels the end of the crisis already.
Directly after Chinese New Year, which ended early this year by February 1, we saw that life goes on and hotels need to be staffed. Most urgent then were the many Sales & Marketing positions to be filled as hotels realized that this year would be a battle for the little business that is out there.
After the summer holidays hotel managers started to realize that vital positions had been kept open for too long and hiring for essential department heads and expatriates was back on our plate again.
Due to our many site-visits to various cities in China we could not help seeing that occupancies were up, especially in the secondary cities, but that overall room rates were still under pressure. The rates were under pressure not so much because there was no money, but because consumers got smart and knew they could make a deal, and in the case of Beijing a certain overcapacity that led to cut-throat competition.
Those hotels that panicked in the crisis and slashed rates to create occupancy dragged the whole city down. But overall the hotel companies are now already looking to 2010 and beyond. Staffing needs are more driven by occupancy than by actual revenue, although with revised budgets perhaps.
New hotels are still opening every month in China, and worldwide there is a general consensus that the worse is over, and that the global economy is getting back on its feet again. In some places that may go very slow, but everybody in the world is watching China as one of the leading nations to recover from this crisis and lead the world out of recession.
That China is a growing destination for business and leisure travel is a trend set already for decades and this crisis was just a short interruption.
American Express Business Travel recently announced the findings of two surveys which offered separate yet similar predictions on the health and future of business travel heading into 2010.
The company surveyed its Global Business Partnership (GBP) clients, its largest global clients, as well as 180 client organizations based across Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou in China through its annual China Business Travel Survey (The Barometer).
The findings indicate that clients expect China will lead business travel recovery. Further, investment by global companies and local companies in China should increase over the next 12 months. That is good news for hotels in China and the hoteliers that (want to) work for themAbout the Author:
René J.M. Schillings, a Dutch National, is the owner, founder and Managing Director of TOP Hoteliers, the first specialized hospitality recruitment agency to open offices in the People's Republic of China (in 2004). Based in Hong Kong he devotes most of his time managing the 2 offices in Shenzhen and Beijing, where his team of consultants recruit hotel managers for all major international and some local hotel companies in China. His company was very early to recognize the need for local talent, Mandarin speaking expatriates and China experienced expatriates. His knowledge of the China Hotel Industry stems from his career as Hotelier in China that began in 1997. He has a BA in Hotel Management from Stenden University, The Netherlands and an MA in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Metropolitan University in London, England. He is a keen observer of industry trends and has published numerous articles on HR issues in hospitality in China. Company website: www.tophoteliers.com