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Hotelier tempts guests with taste of Europe

By Wang Ying in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-22 08:50

Clockwise from top left: A restaurant at a Magnotel hotel. The Metropolo brand features a strong art decor design. The Golden Tulip brand has a history of 60 years. In the next five years, 300 to 400 Campanile hotels will open across China. [Photos provided to China Daily]

Chinese hospitality group introducing international taste and experience to local market

The decision to buy Groupe du Louvre in 2015 by Chinese hotelier Jin Jiang International Holdings has paved the way for its subsidiary Jin Jiang Louvre Asia to start its ambitious expansion in China in the coming years, its chief executive officer said.

"Today, Jin Jiang Louvre Asia is focused on the Chinese market. Because of its large market size and the good timing for new business opportunities, we are putting most of our efforts here in China with more than 150 new openings every year," said Joel Guiraud, CEO of Jin Jiang Louvre Asia.

Jin Jiang Louvre Asia is operating six brands, including two Chinese brands of Metropolo and Magnotel, and two foreign ones of Campanile and Golden Tulip, targeting the Chinese middle and upscale market.

In the next five years, 300 to 400 Campanile hotels will open across China and the number of Magnotel properties will grow to 170. During that period, 500 Metropolo and 200 Golden Tulip properties will be operated under management contracts, mostly in first- and second-tier Chinese cities, according to Guiraud.

The midscale market is growing fast with the purchasing power of Chinese people, he said.

Starting the job in early 2017, Guiraud has directed his team to implementing the four main brands targeting different customers and giving investors a large choice of products for each kind of market, the company said.

The Campanile brand will bring its Chinese guests a taste of France, with a greeting of "bonjour" or a croissant. Golden Tulip tries to provide something fun for business travelers, while Metropolo invites guests to explore local culture in a comfortable way.

The acquisition of Louvre by Jin Jiang has paid off by opening the Chinese market for the international brands Campanile and Golden Tulip. Both of the brands have a strong history and footprint outside China - 40 years for Campanile and 60 for Golden Tulip - and have made a presence in 50 countries, according to Guiraud.

"So with the acquisition, the gate is open to enter the Chinese market and implement and localize these brands," he said. "Without Jin Jiang, it will be very difficult to enter the market, and to understand how to localize and how to meet this market's specific requirements."

At the same time, younger Chinese are more experienced travelers and want more than just an attractive room. They are looking for something different from home: an experience to remember.

As a result, the Shanghai-based hotel group is now using the city as the test bed for its continual innovation and brand upgrading for the mixture of East and West culture.

"This makes the city perfect for testing new concepts that could satisfy Chinese and/or international markets. For that, we are studying the market trends and consumers expectations," Guiraud said. "Some of these concepts, after a period in our incubator, will become brands for our Chinese and/or international market."

A Zen-themed hotel is about to launch in Shanghai in the middle of 2019 as Guiraud and his team discovered more of their target customers are looking for a peaceful place to escape their daily life.

Another project in the pipeline for Shanghai is a hotel in a Mediterranean style, with an Italian kitchen, South of France and Italian-style decoration, and an indoor garden.

"Shanghai is the perfect city to do that," Guiraud said.

He said the takeover of Louvre by Jin Jiang has a lot to do with China's opening-up, which welcomes its 40th anniversary this year. A growing number of Chinese people traveling outside China are providing huge opportunities for the development of Chinese hotel brands including Metropolo outside the country.

The first batch of Metropolo hotels are about to open in France and Poland in 2019, according to the company.

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