When did your journey of Ascott IFC Guangzhou start? Why did you choose here?
I joined Ascott as a management trainee in 2011 and then I was sent to the headquarters in Singapore for training. My journey with Ascott IFC Guangzhou formally began in August 2012, when I came back to China from Singapore. I was part of its opening preparation team and spent two years here after. In August 2014, I was transferred to Somerset Riviera Guangzhou, where I was responsible for its operation. Later, I spent two years in Springdale Serviced Residence Guangzhou and have been serving at Ascott IFC Guangzhou since June 2018. In November, I was appointed as Residence Manager of Ascott IFC Guangzhou. During the past seven years at Ascott, I have grown alongside Ascott. I am very impressed by the fast development of Ascott and am very grateful for the opportunities that Ascott has given to me.
Could you please introduce us to Ascott IFC and tell us a bit about the room types and facilities?
Ascott IFC offers both business and leisure travelers a total of 314 elegant and luxurious apartments. From one-bedroom units to three-bedroom suites, each apartment is equipped with a spacious living-dining area, a fully-equipped kitchen and quality home theater system. This provides a pleasant and comfortable living environment for both short-term and long-term guests. 24-hour security inspections and a closed-circuit television system ensures the safety of guests.
With the accessibility of high-speed broadband and business support services, guests can conduct their business activities efficiently in their rooms. After work, guests are welcome to relax in our fitness center and indoor heated swimming pool.
Now, we have launched Ascott Lifestyle Program, in which we source the best merchants who can provide great privileges for our guests. The merchants include: clothing, food, shelter and transportation and other basic necessities of life, in the hope that guests can not only enjoy the high-quality facilities, but also experience a different lifestyle in Ascott.
As for service details, apartment ambassadors provide services for clients before they arrive at Ascott. We help guests from other countries deal with all kinds of problems they are worried about. We get to know their needs comprehensively in order to prepare their “home” aboard.
What has been the biggest change of service apartment since you worked for Ascott?
At present, there are five brands of Ascott in Guangzhou, including Ascott Guangzhou, Ascott IFC Guangzhou, Springdale Serviced Residence Guangzhou, Somerset Riviera Guangzhou and Citadines LiZhiWan Guangzhou. We are also welcoming another member of us in 2019, Citadines Panyu Guangzhou.
When I joined Ascott in 2011, it seemed like that the public were not familiar with the concept of service apartments. They did not know the purpose of a service apartment nor did they know the differences between a service apartment and hotel. The brand awareness of Ascott has grown rapidly and Ascott has made some achievements since it comes to China. We have expanded from over a dozen projects across the country to more than 120 properties in 33 cities, with more than 22,000 apartments and hotel rooms. The public has greater awareness of Ascott and have become more familiar with the service apartment. Over ten years of Ascott in Guangzhou, we have observed that our guests were mainly foreigners at the early stage and have now reached the balance among European, Japanese, Korean and Chinese markets. This fully illustrates the market’s recognition and trust towards Ascott.
What do you think are the advantages of Ascott IFC Guangzhou?
During my time at Ascott, thanks to the opportunities given by group, I have experienced many different brands. There are several advantages of Ascott IFC Guangzhou:
1. Supports from the brand of Ascott. With the growing business of Ascott, the brand recognition in the market is higher and higher. We not only have loyal guests, but also attract new customers continuously with the power of our brand.
2. “Green” in the urban. Within the prosperous CBD which is filled with high-rise buildings, the outdoor garden in our sixth floor has become a rare natural oxygen bar. Businessmen as our guests can take a rest here while children can enjoy themselves as well. It is a precious experience in CBD.
3.Plentiful activities. We hold activities for guests at least once a month, which are based on the seasons and the needs of our guests. For example, we have traditional Chinese cultural activities around Spring Festival. During summer vacation, we host outdoor exhibitions aimed at children. Our guests can also host activities by themselves. Each activity has high participation and guests can enjoy feeling part of a big family.
What do you think is the key to service apartment management? How do you apply your understanding of hotel management to the actual practice in Ascott IFC?
First of all, a manager should be familiar with his or her team. As for the team working for Ascott IFC Guangzhou, it is a creative team in which team members have tacit understanding of one another. We can discover the key for smooth cooperation through mutual understanding.
Secondly, passion matters. I once read a sentence that said: “If you like something, you can finish it completely; if you are passionate about it, you can finish it fabulously well.” Starting with me, I hope my passion as a manager can spread to my teammates so that we can create a better working environment for each other.
Additionally, I attach importance to learning and training, which can update our knowledge and skills continuously. This is probably because I started my career as a management trainee, so I think it is of great significance to have a comprehensive study and training system which allows employees to self-improve.
Lastly, close relationship with each department is required. I will keep up with market trends, pass on our group’s philosophy to my teammates, cultivate their collective pride for the company and make them feel united. Hopefully, they can have a long-term plan for their future career.
(In terms of the relationships between the guests and staff, do you have any requirements?)
Unlike hotels, service apartments are more like a community, where staff and guests can be friends and family members who create a family-like living environment together. This is what we are trying to cultivate all the time and it is to our advantage. The equal relationships between guests and staff can undoubtedly help us provide more professional and considerate services from the customer’s perspective.
Could you please share with us about something interesting during your time at Ascott IFC?
A lot of interesting stories happen here every day. The whole team is young and energetic, with experienced members who are responsible for the areas in which they have expertise and creative ideas. We have a collision of ideas when we are together and there is fantastic chemistry between us. What’s more, currently we have two particularly adorable robots as staff named “Xiao Ya” and “Xiao Er” in our apartment, who gain lots of favors from our guests. Our guests share their funny stories with the robots, which also brings much joy to us.