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Cover Story:Shangri-La Hotel Tianjin's Promising Hospitality Industry Expansion
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Shangri-La Hotel Tianjin's Promising Hospitality Industry Expansion

An Exclusive Interview with Tracy Zou, Director of Sales and Marketing Shangri-La Tianjin

By Richard Cook

BT 201502 41 Cover story 97A8741With Tianjin's economic rise being felt across the globe, significant and valued attention is zoning in on its equally impressive hospitality industry expansion. The recent arrival of the glistening Shangri-La hotel is symbolic enough to flaunt the quality of Tianjin's hospitality sector. Shangria-La is certainly benefiting from a rage of successful ingredients - location, splendor and a quality team.

In one of the many reception areas, this one in particular situated with an enchanting view overlooking the city, we spoke to Ms Tracy Zou about her return to the Shangria-La family and about the new hotel and it's operations in Tianjin.

You have considerable experience in the hospitality industry. Previously you have worked with the Shangria-La group before, in Dalian. Could you give us an insight into your experiences before you came to Tianjin?
Dalian is my hometown. I worked as a Japanese translator after graduating from university and joined the hotel industry in 2000. My first taste of the industry started with a local hotel chain and I was hooked! I became part of the Shangri-La family in 2004, as a Senior Sales Manager in Shangri-La Hotel, Dalian.

I moved to Tianjin when my husband got transferred here so the whole family moved with him in 2009. At that time, Shangri-La Hotel, Tianjin hadn't yet opened. But I was fortunate enough to join The Westin Tianjin as part of their pre-opening sales team, first as a Senior Sales Manager and slowly progressed to be a Director of Sales and finally as the Director of Sales and Marketing in 2012.

How about your time with the Westin Tianjin hotel group? What were some of your take-aways and lessons learned?
As part of the pre-opening team, I saw a different side to the operations. The sales department was all brand new so there were a lot of systems and analysis that came with the job in order to understand the market and that is invaluable for my job.

How does it feel to re-join the Shangria-La family?

I am very happy to be back, I had some of my best times in Shangri-La Hotel, Dalian. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts enjoy a sterling reputation in China, so meeting and maintaining the expectations of our guests is a challenge, one that I am very excited to undertake and exceed.

What is your favorite aspect about working in the hotel/hospitality industry?
I enjoy meeting new people - everyone has their own expectations and requirements so there is never a boring day on the job! I find that with the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, it helps me to grow not only professionally but also as a person.

Could you give us a quick insight into the day-to-day operations in this luxurious hotel?
We are in the business of making our guests happy! Everyone from the service associates to our senior management team, work towards delighting our guests everyday.

BT 201502 40 Cover story SLTJ FacadeWhat's the trick to keeping you team motivated?
I think showing appreciation and listening with an open mind are two of the most important attributes to keeping colleagues motivated and happy. A simple kind word for a job well done will go a long way.

A lot of people ask "Why Tianjin" ... What is so attractive about Tianjin and the business market here?
Tianjin is a beautiful city with an interesting history. Economically, Tianjin is also seeing a boost with the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei development, which will see a lot of growth within the next few years. With every developing city, there are always challenges, but what's life without a bit of challenge to push our boundaries, and see how far we can go?

BT 201502 39 Cover story SLTJ Deluxe River View RoomWith so many big name competitors already here, can a squeeze in the high-end hospitality competitiveness be felt? Do you think demand in this sector is already being met?
Friendly competitiveness is definitely in the air. I think that five-star hotels in Tianjin are still in its growing stages, there are a lot to learn compared to the mature markets overseas, or even compared to Shanghai and Beijing. The best thing is we have the space to push the boundaries, come up with new ideas and new strategies to test the market and to be trendsetters, as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts are known for.

Where do you think the Shangria-La can edge ahead of its rivals?
Shangri-La Hotel, Tianjin is always striving to bring new experiences for its guests. The hotel provides an overall lifestyle experience. Since we opened in August 2014, we have brought the renowned Cross Talk performance to our diners in Shang Palace, 21-piece Chamber Orchestra in the lobby on Saturdays etc. More exciting programs will be introduced in the coming year!

Highly noted for its "supreme excellence", the Jin Ying Chamber Orchestra was a prestigious contender in the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music 2013. Award winning and perfectly situated in the Shangria-La grand lobby, you will feel like a Hapsburg Emperor or Empress in Vienna as the dazzling sound stimulates the room.

If your familiar with China then you will certainly know what Cross Talk is all about. A comedy talk show, with a 400 year history and famed background and known all over China, this is certainly a crowd pleaser. The Cross Talk performances are held from 6:30 to 7 p.m. and from 7:30 to 8 p.m. until 28 February in the Shang Palace restaurant, Shangria-La.

What quality do you think the Shangria-La group has that puts it ahead of its rivals?
We are constantly evolving to suit market trends. We put ourselves in the shoes our guests and provide the kind of product and service that we, as the consumers, would also want to have and that is our key strength.

You and your team must be working round the clock. Can you tell us about the direction and plans Shangria-La are expected to make to expand business opportunities here in Tianjin?
We have the largest banquet facilities in the market and there are several city-wide events every year so we hope to gain a bigger market share in 2015.

Further developments for the hotel include the opening of an ice-skating rink and the vast 1,700 square-meter Kids Adventure Zone.

What will you and your team target this coming year, in terms of conference venues?
With the largest meeting and banquet facilities for five-star hotels in Tianjin, we hope that Shangri-La Hotel, Tianjin will be recognized as the first choice for all corporate meetings, conferences and social events in the city.

Any closing remarks?
Shangri-La Hotel, Tianjin seeks to provide a 'home away from home' experience for both domestic and international travellers - Our corporate saying is to 'embrace strangers as our own'. Visit us to experience it for yourself!

With a full range of eye catching activities the Shangri-La Tianjin is making its presence felt across the city. Having such prominent live shows such as cross talk and an award winning complimentary orchestra in the hotel is a bold statement of rising success. Put together with the shear beauty of the hotel it is a clear combination of ambition and common sense. The gym as well as the elaborate infinity pool overlooks the river adding a comforting and relaxing feel. The Shang Palace offers a wide range of Cantonese cuisine on offer from expert master Chef's. After a tour of the hotel we could see that nothing had been overlooked, form the very early stages of hotel design to the quality control and deliverance of excellence to its customers. When you visit the Shangria-La Tianjin, you will certainly not feel like a stranger as you reside in the lap of luxury and absolute comfort. The experience Tracy and her team will undoubtedly deliver, as the Shangria-La becomes the focal point for gravity in the hospitality industry in Tianjin.


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