“Deriving its name from the Chinese word for ‘welcome,’ Huanying provides Chinese travelers in key destinations across the globe with amenities and service standards that are reminiscent of home.”
International travelers want to feel welcome. As hoteliers, one simple way to achieve an inviting atmosphere for foreign guests is to ensure their comfort, but comfort is not one-size fits all; it is dynamic and ever-changing. To successfully capture and retain the business of international visitors, hotels must understand and cater to the preferences of key markets.
China has consistently been one of the world’s largest outbound travel markets and remains California’s primary source of overseas tourism – with 2017 Chinese visitor spending surpassing $3 billion in the state – and yet, Hilton’s research revealed that Chinese guests were largely under-served in the hospitality industry.
By conducting a comprehensive study and leveraging its more than 25 years of experience in China, Hilton developed a program to ensure the needs of Chinese travelers are met, regardless of where they may be in the world. Deriving its name from the Chinese word for “welcome,” Huanying provides Chinese travelers in key destinations across the globe with amenities and service standards that are reminiscent of home.
After its successful introduction in August 2011 with 30 participating properties in 13 countries, Hilton executed a global unveiling of Huanying at Hilton San Francisco Union Square (HSFUS). The City by The Bay has long been recognized as a leading global destination for Chinese travelers and is home to one of the largest Chinese communities in the United States.
Specifically chosen to provide both functional service and emotional comfort for Hilton’s Chinese guests, Huanying’s offerings center around three signature hospitality touch-points: the arrival experience, guest room amenities, and the breakfast experience:
- ARRIVAL EXPERIENCE
- Huanying Greeting: a welcome note in Simplified Chinese
- Mandarin interpretation service
- Many properties offer Mandarin speaking team member(s) as well
- GUEST ROOM AMENITIES
- Tea kettles
- Jasmine tea
- Dedicated Mandarin-speaking television channel
- BREAKFAST EXPERIENCE
- Two varieties of congee with condiments, fried rice or fried noodles, a dim sum selection, fried dough fritters (crullers), hard boiled eggs, Chinese tea, fresh fruit and soy milk
- Chinese culinary utensils including chopsticks, Chinese spoons, and a soy sauce dish
Additionally, all team members who interact with guests are required to take a Huanying training module, which discusses the importance of the program, specific standards and execution strategies, and cultural insights to aid in serving Chinese guests.
Hilton finds that Chinese guests visiting participating Huanying properties express a substantial increase in customer satisfaction in areas including service, accommodations, property loyalty, and overall experience.
Director of International Sales for HSFUS LeAnn Katayama explains, “They are happy that we provide the service. We use this program as a selling tool and it differentiates us from the competition.”
Hilton plans to continue developing Huanying and expanding where the program is offered to meet the evolving needs of Chinese travelers.
To do this, Hilton regularly monitors guest feedback and field research on what matters to Chinese travelers and where they are traveling.
Cynthia Ordyke, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City (HLAUC), shares how the market has responded to the program, “At the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, we have received a very positive response to the program. Four years ago, the Chinese leisure market became our number one International traveler into the hotel. The year prior, China ranked #7.”
Ordyke mentions that HLAUC has hosted many foreign dignitaries from Asian countries, including two presidents from Taiwan. She says HLAUC began pursuing the Chinese market many years ago and the additional training and marketing of Huanying helped enhance their service to Chinese guests: “It helped us to standardize the offerings that we provided to high ranking Chinese officials or VIP’s visiting the property and extend this great service to all guests from Asian countries. As a result, we have experienced double digit growth, year over year from Asia.”
She goes on to describe the great reputation their Café Sierra has with the local travel agents and Asian community for its Weekend Seafood and Prime Rib Buffet, along with the traditional Mandarin Cuisine provided for special events. Ordyke says,
This paired with the Huanying program makes it easy for them to recommend our hotel especially when they know that our breakfast will include authentic, well prepared Chinese breakfast items. The most frequent compliments we receive are regarding our food, and guests from other countries are also impressed and enjoy the various dim sum, two styles of congee, noodles and other specialty items prepared by our Mandarin kitchen.
Katayama agrees with Ordyke’s assessment and notes that many American guests enjoy the Chinese menu items available in the breakfast buffet. She says, “We attribute this to the rich culinary scene that makes up local and international guests who enjoy something different.”
Huanying has proven to be extremely popular and successful with Chinese travelers and has expanded to 148 properties in 39 countries.
For more information about Hilton’s Huanying program, visit www.hiltonglobalmediacenter.com/huanying