Hilton Huanying: An Interesting Idea for Additional Revenue for Hotel Properties…

“C hinese citizens are already the world’s largest travel market”, according to this article written by Melinda of Magic of Miles. “By 2020, according to Hilton the number of Chinese travelers is expected to explode to around 200 million. To cater to this group, Hilton has had a special program in place since 2011 that offers Chinese travelers a specialized experience. Called Hilton Huanying, it was first rolled out at 51 properties in 13 countries. The test program has been very successful, and to accommodate the upcoming population growth Hilton is expanding their Huanying program.”

This special program — offered free of charge at participating locations, which will expand to 110 total Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton hotel and resort properties — offers the following:

ARRIVAL EXPERIENCE

  • Welcome note in Simplified Chinese
  • 24-hour Mandarin interpretation service
  • Mandarin speaking team member — available at some hotel properties

 

GUEST ROOM AMENITIES

  • Tea kettles
  • Jasmine tea
  • Slippers
  • Dedicated Mandarin-speaking television channel

 

BREAKFAST EXPERIENCE

  • Two varieties of congee — which is a kind of porridge — with condiments, hard boiled eggs, fried rice or fried noodles, dim sum, fried dough fritters and fresh fruit
  • Chinese tea and soy milk
  • Chopsticks, Chinese spoons and a soy sauce dish

 

Rob Palleschi — who is the global head full service brands of Hilton Worldwide — reportedly said, “Since being introduced in 2011…, Huanying has empowered more than a million Chinese travelers to explore new destinations with the comforts of home. We are very proud of this program, and the benefits are clear. Chinese travelers who stay at Huanying properties express a greater overall satisfaction in their hospitality experience.”

The gears in my head creaked before they started turning. Gears in my head turning usually means trouble — but I digress…

…the first thought which came to my head is that I would be interested in experiencing the Hilton Huanying program; and I cannot be the only one who thought this thought.

Although participating hotel properties of Hilton Worldwide which offer this innovative program may have been handsomely rewarded for giving Chinese citizens a chance to feel more at home while away from home, it must cost money to provide such a program.

“Regardless of the country the traveler is from, I think these small touches are a really neat way to make a hotel stay more like home to some”, Melinda opined. “Although Chinese travelers are the highest population so the current customization makes sense for that group, it’d be a welcome touch if they opened the program to other countries’ travelers as well.”

That is where my idea comes in: keep offering the Hilton Huanying to qualified people — Chinese citizens, for example — free of charge; but offer it for a nominal fee to those who want an option to experience a taste of traditional Chinese hospitality while they stay at participating Hilton hotel properties worldwide. Ensure that that nominal fee not only covers expenses; but also yields a modest profit for the hotel property…

…and offer similar programs at hotel properties for those who want to experience a taste of the hospitality of other cultures: Japanese, Israeli, German, South African, Russian, Arabian, Thai and Indian, to name several. Offer it for free to qualified people of each culture; but also offer it for a nominal fee to others.

This would especially help hotel chains compete better with individual or boutique lodging options, though not directly; and for a guest who stays for several days, he or she can experience a different option for each day if he or she preferred.

This idea is still in its infancy in my head; so while I change its diaper, please feel free to suggest improvements on this idea; state whether or not you would patronize hotel properties which offer this program and whether or not you would pay a nominal fee; what a fair nominal fee would be, in your opinion…

…or simply state why this is the most ridiculous idea you have heard since the pet rock craze of the 1970s…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Hilton Huanying: An Interesting Idea for Additional Revenue for Hotel Properties…”

  1. JEM says:

    Not a ridiculous idea at all. I see several challenges: material, storage, and especially training costs would increase substantially with each cultural program introduced. That’s especially true if more than one program would be offered at a single property. Determining who is from a particular culture is problematic – is a Mandarin-speaking person from Chinatown in San Francisco required to pay or not? Would all cultural experiences cost the same?

    That said, I’d never use the service. I typically don’t want ‘home cooking’ when I’m abroad, and I’m afraid I’d always question the cultural authenticity at a Hilton.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I thought about all of those potential impediments, JEM.

      As I said, it was simply a germination of an idea — nothing more…

      …and I have to say that as much as I really enjoy traveling, I also like to be at home as well. In addition to home cooking, I am more comfortable at home than I am in virtually any lounge at an airport or a hotel; so I understand your not wanting “home cooking” while you are abroad.

  2. Nybanker says:

    In select markets, this makes tremendous sense. To look at an example in Australia, the Melbourne airport has aggressively catered to Chinese pax, with nearly all airport signs also in Mandarin. Sydney hasn’t made similar accommodations.

    Chinese air traffic is the fastest growing international segment in Australia. Melbourne’s share of this important is growing at a much, much greater rate than Sydney’s. For privately held airports that compete for traffic, these sort of differentiators are key.

    If you do things to make out of town guests feel welcome, they’ll probably come.

    For a hotel, it is not about just having these “Chinese items” in a box and handed out. The service needs to be marketed to Chinese tour companies (which is how quite a few Chinese tourists travel abroad) and will be more likely to be impactful in major cities, not smaller ones.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I completely agree with you, Nybanker. Thank you.

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