How has your hotel performed in 2018 and what are your expectations for 2019? (without financials specifics)
We’re very pleased with the way The Middle House finished 2018, the Shanghai market remained positive despite so many new openings last year. The Middle House continues perform well in 2019, we have a special location, a unique design and service style, and awareness of what we do continues to grow.
Is there a set of DNA codes that define your brand as part of the Collection but also as part of the Swire Hotels?
Swire Hotels is soulfully individual in every way, shape and form, celebrating individuality and straying from the norm. Both of our brands, The House Collective and EAST, break from the traditional notions of luxury and business hotels and have filled in gaps in the market, offering another option to those that do not fit or relate to existing offerings and are seeking a new concept of luxury. The Houses are designed to offer relaxation in urban environments, through dynamic restaurant and bar concepts, gym and pool facilities, and innovative spa treatments.
What is the positioning of your hotel in the local luxury market? Tell us more about your competitive advantages?
We’re fortunate to be located in the central Jing’an District, on the city’s bustling Nanjing West Road, together with HKRI Taikoo Hui complex, this urban destination is the local’s new gathering spot in Shanghai.
Guests can reenergize in our 2,600-square-metre wellness area, have their groceries delivered to their residence, and socialise in a diverse and interesting selection of restaurants bars and retail outlets. The destination aspect of what we’re creating is quite unique. Ultimately, what we set out to achieve was to become part of the fabric of this great megacity.
How would you describe the profile of your returning guests?
We appeal to well-travelled, independently minded people who are on the lookout for adventurous, stimulating and unpredictable experiences that offer both depth and authenticity.
Our guests are drawn to the vibrancy of a modern hotel, restaurant, bar or lounge especially one that’s brimming with local life. They enjoy being connected to the city they wake up in.
They are high-end consumers who love to travel and have an appreciation for design, art and culture. They are interested in having a highly unique, discrete and customized experience, and something out of the ordinary.
Swire Hotels are known for the exceptional and distinctive architecture and interior design of each property?
No one House is the same. From the architecture and design to the personality and vibe, each one expresses the local culture and displays art in their own ways, creating experiences that cannot be found elsewhere.
The Middle House captures the spirit of modern-day Shanghai, offering a way of being that is both contemporary and classic.
Designed by Milan based architect Piero Lissoni, The Middle House embraces a rich heritage of craftsmanship and culture, marrying minimalist style with classical Shanghainese elements. The overall style is sophisticated, and sealed by the outstanding works of art, curated by Alison Pickett’s “I dream of China” theme, featuring around 670 pieces.
Discerning traveler are increasingly seeking experiences beyond facilities and high customer service standards. Tell us more about your approach.
Our guest experience teams are full of young and passionate individuals, they like to connect and take great care of our guests. We believe it’s important to be thoughtful about what makes a difference to the guests who choose to stay with us. The goal is to create an environment that will complement the lifestyle of our guests. We look to provide a more relaxed, informal service style – yet remaining professional.
How has digital influenced your strategic approach towards marketing and sales?
Providing highly personalised service for our guests to experience and building lasting relationships with them have been the best ways for guests to fully understand our brand. Word of mouth, online and offline, has been a way for guests to know us in a more authentic way and for us to build trust. Our loyal guests have naturally become our brand ambassadors.
Beyond the hotel stay experience, our events have been another avenue to engage with our target audience on a more personal level. We collaborate with brands that are more niche and would attract specific groups that are already in the know. Our events tend to be on a smaller scale, creating an intimate setting with a sense of community.
We continue to strengthen our WeChat strategy so that we can utilise the platform to more effectively engage in one-on-one communication with our guests and potential guests, another way to provide personalised service as well as information about our brand. Creative and engaging content is always the goal, and to achieve this having a team that enjoys being open to change is key.
With a booming number of ‘influencers’ / ‘bloggers’, how do you evaluate such collaborations / exposure?
It’s a good sign to receive many inquiries and we try to reply to every one of them, for the evaluation we need to factor in several things here, for example the quality of their posts and the number of the followers they get etc. We like to work with likeminded people who appreciate who we are, then generally everything they produce tends to be natural and organic, not forced. We’re always willing to work with talented influencers and bloggers and build a long-lasting relationship with them.
Achieving and maintaining high standards of service and maintaining a fresh product are essential nowadays. What is your approach
People have so many choices today, so in many ways we aim to do less and constantly work at trying to do it very well. We have some great new facilities such as long stay residences, a 2,600 square metre wellness destination, and restaurants with unique expansive outdoor space with terraces. Ultimately though, it comes down to the human interactions and for this it’s all about personalised service delivered by our fun and spontaneous team members.
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