When did the hotel open and how much business have you attracted since then?
The SAS Royal Hotel, Beijing, was soft opened in September 1992 just before the end of the peak season. As expected, business was slow, but is now picking up quickly. Bookings are high for the next few months and continue to increase dramatically.
How do you publicise a new opening in a city like Beijing?
We want the SAS Royal Hotel to be an 'oasis' for the foreign and local residents in Beijing. Consequently we have done a lot of work with the businesses and diplomatic communities in the city to promote the hotel. Word of mouth from their personnel, combined with sales calls and mailings makes for very effective local advertising. The hotel is always being featured in SAS's inflight magazine. 'Periodically advertising appears in local newspapers, and in travel trade publications. Promotions are also being made through familiarisation trips.
What do you think sets you aside from other Beijing hotels?
The blend of Scandinavian efficiency and Chinese hospitality and excellent local staff with a good command of English. The fact that guests may choose which way they want to stay: Royal Club (executive floors), Oriental, Hi-Tech, or Art Deco. Our commitment
to making it easier for the business traveller to do business while away from home.
You say that guests are allowed to choose their own room decor, what exactly do you mean by this, and how important do you think it is?
At the SAS Royal Hotel Beijing, guests may choose from four different room styles when checking in: Royal Club, Hi-Tech, Oriental and Art Deco. Some guests stick to one room style, others choose a different style each time to get a new, feeling. Our research confirms that people enjoy this possibility and it adds to the hotel's atmosphere. Ours is not stereotype hotel.
You advertise yourself as the first hotel (in Beijing) to dedicate itself solely to servicing the needs of the business traveller. What special services do you offer?
Identification of all the needs of a visiting businessman whether major or minor was essential. Therefore we have developed a wide range of service concepts aimed at the business traveller, such as the Royal Club with its own lounge and butler service, different room styles, extended check-out time (3pm on weekdays and 8pm on Sundays), a fabulous breakfast buffet, a grab-and-run offer of coffee/tea and croissants for those who are in a hurry, and Express Check-Out.
The hotel offers full secretarial services and airline reservation assistance. A unique conference guarantee ensures that meetings run flawlessly, while a No Excuse guarantee applies to the guest rooms. If anything is wrong with the room, and it can not be fixed within 60 minutes of a complaint having been lodged, a new room will be provided or there is no bill to pay.
A new reception layout, with satellite counters eliminates queues at check-in or check-out.
Unfortunately due to local regulations, we can not offer complete airline check-in for the time being.
What sort of conference facilities do you have? How does this compare withother Beijing hotels?
There are conference facilities for up to 7,000 people; nine function rooms 140 square metres and a 260 square metre ballroom and advanced audio-visual equipment.
Our conference facilities compare very well with other Beijing hotels. A particular strength is our food and beverage department, which can offer conference participants a barbeque at the Great Wall, lunch at the Summer Palace or an unforgettable open-air dinner at the Ming Tombs, to name but a few of the options.
Why did you choose to approach Beijing from a business angle? How much business do you think you lose in not focusing on the leisure travellers?
Because SAS International Hotels is in the business of catering to the needs of the business traveller, however we are not ignoring the importance of the leisure travellers. As a matter of fact, the SAS Royal Hotel is also being advertised as an SAS Tourist Hotel. We participate in special seasonal campaigns to attract tourists, and we also offer the popular 65-plus senior citizen program, where guests of 65 and over receive a discount off the rack rate corresponding to their age. At 100, the room is free. However, our mainstay is the business traveller.
The hotel is not in the heart of Beijing like some of your competitors. Is this not a major disadvantage?
The hotel is within the China International Exhibition Centre, the country's most important exhibition centres. From a business point of view, it is a very good location as the area is fast becoming the financial centre of Beijing. It is the Third Ring Road between downtown Beijing and the international airport, and the city of Beijing is developing in the direction of the airport. Also from that perspective, it is a good location.
To what extent do you have SAS passengers staying with you?
We anticipate a growing number of SAS passengers, not the least because of the SAS EuroBonus customer loyalty program. There are already more than 200,000 members. For each night at our hotel, the SAS EuroBonus member will earn points which can be redeemed for free flights or free hotel stays. We also expect a growing influx of Scandinavians as our advertising gets into full swing. Scandinavians like to stay Scandinavian.
What are your current rates?
Until 1st September 1993, we offer an introductory rate of US$60-US$80. *