In China, a New Hotel Every Two Weeks

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  1. uggboy
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    You don’t have to travel often to know that congee, fried rice and dim sum aren’t standard breakfast fare at American hotels.
    Starting now, they could be.
    As high-end consumers in China continue to wield their growing spending power, hotel chains are adding new services and amenities to make Chinese travelers feel more at home while they're abroad.
    Last month, Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT), which owns the W, St. Regis, Sheraton and Westin brands, introduced its “Starwood Personalized Travel” program in 19 hotels worldwide. At these locations, the front desk is staffed by at least one person who speaks Mandarin, guest rooms are stocked with slippers and tea kettles, traditional Chinese meals are available at the hotel restaurant and Chinese guests are provided with hotel literature in their native language.

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    Hilton Hotels & Resorts’ “Huanying Program” offers similar services and has been tested in three hotels around the world, but won’t officially launch until Aug. 16. When it does, 51 hotels will participate – 22 in the U.S. and 29 elsewhere.
    It’s no secret that wealthy consumers in China have grown to become a powerful force across many sectors, but it’s only in the last two years that Chinese outbound travel has reached a level meaningful enough to warrant special attention from hotels.
    “Two years ago, you could probably have predicted, based on the growth of GDP in China, that there would be a boom in travel, but that was early,” acknowledges Matt Gaghen, vice president of brand management at Starwood.
    Hungry for high-end goods, Chinese consumers are spreading their wings like never before. The influx of Chinese travelers to the U.S. alone climbed 53% from 2009 to 2010 and is expected to surge 232% from 2010 to 2016 – in both instances, outpacing growth in any other market, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce in May.
    In the last year or two, Starwood has seen a doubling – and, in some locations, tripling – of business volume from Chinese patrons. The W Hotel in New York’s Times Square, for instance, saw a 173% pickup in business from Chinese customers from 2009 to 2010 while the Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel in Mexico City saw a whopping 370% increase.

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