Exclusive Interview: Patrick Park – General Manager –Marco Polo Shenzhen
Marco Polo is much more than just a brand. We asked Patrick Park what makes his hotel in Shenzhen different.
Marco Polo… What does the name tell you? It tells you about a pioneer. It tells you about travelling… And that’s exactly what we are doing. Pioneering in new areas. We are opening many hotels in new places. The Marco Polo Shenzhen is an example. About 12 years ago, when we opened this hotel, we were the first five-star international hotel group to open in this area. Obviously now there are many big brand groups here, which is good, because we have friendly competition, but this hotel was the pioneering international brand in the CBD. Today this means we are experienced, and have experienced people. More than 35% of our staff have been working here more than five years, meaning we are very well “connected” with this district, with experience in serving international guests. Our main clients are business people as well as MICE groups, because we have so many function spaces.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have been working in hospitality for over 30 years, mainly in Hong Kong – with three different hotel groups, and I was in Dallas for two years. I’ve been with Marco Polo Hotels for the past 12 years. But all these 30 years I was involved in the guest area. I was never back of house. I was always front of house, where you see the guest, you feel the guest, and you smell the guest. You know what the guest wants, you know how to mingle with the guests, not only serving them, but also truly understanding what they are here for. At the end of the day, very simply, hoteliers are here to serve the guest. Without them, there is no reason for me to exist. All the rest comes after. It’s a basic concept, but it’s important.
MORE THAN 35% OF OUR STAFF HAVE BEEN WORKING HERE MORE THAN FIVE YEARS, MEANING WE ARE VERY WELL “CONNECTED” WITH THIS DISTRICT
Tell us a little more about MICE.
The location of the Marco Polo Shenzhen is ideal for this, right in the central business district, with a lot of nance, insurance, and corporate offices. Naturally, we serve a lot of business travellers, and accessibility is good – just 35 minutes from the ferry terminal or the airport, and only ten minutes away from the border to Hong Kong as well. Added to that are our 31 function spaces, including a ballroom that can cater for up to 900 persons, and the auditorium – one of only a few in Shenzhen, with 375 seats. The rooms are in different sizes and shapes, to meet the requirements of all kinds of business meetings, functions and events. We have different packages designed specifically for MICE groups, and the group has what we call MPR – Marco Polo Rewards – giving incentives the bookers. Any person who makes bookings for these events gets points that he or she can redeem – not only on hotel facilities, but also some gift items as well.
You are doing a lot of room upgrades at the moment. Please tell us more about that.
We have been planning quite some time, and we just started a couple of months ago. We have two sample floors to start. The hotel has been here 12 years, and along the way we have done a lot of maintenance, but not major renovations. We are not doing major structural changes – just refurbishment – changing all wooden furniture and operational equipment in the rooms.
The new look rooms will cater more towards contemporary business guests. And nowadays, guests are increasingly conscious about the environment, so we are using more and more recyclable products. For example, rather than use plastic laundry bags, we now only have reusable ones. There are also no more paper cups – just glass. People value the fact that we are making efforts in that respect. Paint and wallpaper are also eco- friendly. It costs a little more, but at the end of the day, it pays off.
What are the three “USP’s” of this property?
Number one is the people. Our associates – who have been here quite some time and are very loyal to the group. When you travel a lot, in many different hotels, you don’t remember the colour of the carpet or the pattern on the wallpaper. It’s the people – the smile – the lasting impression of the guests – the ‘guest experience’.
Number two is location. Our target is business guests, and our location surrounded by the big corporate offices in this area. And the new high-speed train to Hong Kong will be stopping just two minutes away from here.
Number three is the facility of having 31 meeting spaces, and so much exibility in their potential utilisation.
WE HAVE DIFFERENT PACKAGES DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR MICE GROUPS, AND THE GROUP HAS WHAT WE CALL MPR – MARCO POLO REWARDS – GIVING INCENTIVES THE BOOKERS.
Photos: Patrick Park, General Manager, Marco Polo Shenzhen; Marco Polo Shenzhen Ballroom (Theatre).