A thoughtfully placed toothbrush, bedroom slippers, and service with a smile – Asian hospitality is known for its strong desire to please travellers from around the world.
But it isn’t picture perfect yet, as standards vary across the regions. This is where American and European brand, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, intends to step in and fill the gaps. The group has been expanding rapidly in Asia, opening three new hotels in India this year with plans for two more to follow, as well as opening the first Radisson Blu-branded hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
Thorsten Kirschke, 50, president of the Asia Pacific region for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, notes the importance of managing the expectations of travellers and not fall into the trap of one-size-fits-all. “Globalisation is taking the brand into other geographies, and we must understand cultural differences,” says the experienced veteran who has been in the industry for more than 25 years.
That’s why at Radisson Blu Sydney, where the bulk of guests are Chinese, the hotel serves Chinese tea and bedroom slippers specially sourced from China. Chinese interpreters are also on hand to facilitate communication. Radisson Hotel Narita, on the other hand, offers yutaka (Japanese-style bathrobes) and Japanese sweets in the room, as this hotel tends to get domestic travellers who would want familiarity.
Kirschke is quick to pick up on global trends too. “A lot of travellers today are in the 30 to 35 years old age group; these young and well-read travellers want to do business, work from the hotel, relax and have the hotel facilitate their travels,” he notes.
To keep up, Carlson Rezidor has embraced the philosophy that Internet access should be as sacrosanct as running water across its brands, unlike American brand Waldorf Astoria New York that still charges for Internet usage.
All Radisson Blu hotels also offer Experience Meetings – a concept that introduces a culinary service providing brain food for business executives to stay alert. Ingredients are locally sourced for freshness, with plenty of fish, fruits and whole-grain products. Meat is kept to a minimal, and never exceeds more than 10 per cent of fat. Then, there’s a service dubbed “100% Guest Satisfaction Guarantee”, where an unhappy guest will not have to pay for the room or service in question if the complaint is unresolved.
“I have waived tens of thousands of revenue just because we didn’t get it right,” shares Kirschke. It’s about making a promise to your guests and seeing it through – that’s how hospitality can achieve gold.