HASTINGS Hotels has become the first hotel group on the island of Ireland to achieve the China Ready accreditation which has been awarded by the Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI).
To mark the EU-China Year of Tourism in 2018, Hastings Hotels, with assistance from Fáilte Ireland, Tourism NI and COTRI, has implemented a series of specialist training and standards workshops in its three Belfast hotels to support front line employees in understanding the needs of the Chinese tourist.
This has helped develop a special ‘Hastings Huanying’ approach and response for the Chinese visitor to position the three Belfast hotels in the group as key destinations for Chinese tourists.
The China Ready Training and Accreditation prepares people and businesses for the opportunities and challenges of engaging with China and the Chinese.
Howard Hastings, Managing Director of Hastings Hotels said: “We are proud to be the first hotel group on the island of Ireland to have achieved the China Ready accreditation.
“We have noticed a marked increase over recent years in the number of Chinese guests staying at our hotels, so it is important that we can understand their needs and make them feel welcome to ensure they have an enjoyable stay with us during their visit to Northern Ireland.
“COTRI has been working with the Centre for Competitiveness locally to help prepare businesses for the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Northern Ireland.
“The staff in our three Belfast Hotels, the Culloden Estate & Spa, the Europa Hotel and the Stormont Hotel have undertaken the relevant training courses and the outputs of this training have been mystery shopped and passed by COTRI who is confident that our services and staff excel at welcoming Chinese visitors.
“We have also made a number of changes to our communications throughout the hotels to ensure we are ‘China Ready’ including dedicated Chinese landing pages on our website, a dedicated photo opportunity area within the hotels, staff being trained in key welcome phrases and the hotel accepting “Union Pay” credit cards as payment and this accreditation means we are best placed to welcome Chinese guests to Northern Ireland,” Howard continued.
Dr Tony Lenehan, Executive Director of the Centre for Competitiveness and COTRI (Ireland), congratulated all the participants in each hotel who successfully completed the Programme, and in particular for the exceptionally high level of achievement in the written test following the presentations and lectures.
“The Training provided a comprehensive introduction to the Chinese market and the cultural awareness that is necessary to provide a market and customer focused service to the Chinese Guest.
“Each hotel committed to adapt their products and services to enable them to become accredited as ‘China Ready’
“This included lots of innovative ideas for adapting the products and services in each hotel into experiences of excellence that reflect what the Chinese tourist requires and expects.”
“This commitment to ensuring that a special and focused welcome, awaits the Chinese Tourist in Hastings Hotels in Belfast is a further example of the professionalism and dedication to service excellence which is synonymous with the Hastings Hotels Group,” Dr Lenehan added.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland said: “Congratulations to Hastings Hotels on achieving the ‘China Ready’ accreditation.
“The potential of the Chinese outbound travel market is significant, with Chinese travellers expected to take some 200 million trips overseas by 2020. Currently, 4 million Chinese travel to Europe annually and Tourism Ireland is working hard to win a greater share of that business for Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland.”
John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism NI commented: “China is the world’s largest, and fastest growing, outbound travel market presenting a unique opportunity for the Northern Ireland tourism industry.
“Following the successful UK China Summit held in Belfast earlier this month now is the perfect time for Hastings to implement their ‘Hastings Huanying’ approach to attract Chinese visitors who on average stay longer and spend more than many other visitors.”
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said: “China has become the World’s most valuable outbound market more than doubling its tourism expenditure in the last five years.
“In 2016, Chinese visitors spent $216bn overseas, so the benefits and opportunity for Belfast and Northern Ireland are clear.
“In order to increase the number of visitors from China, it is vital that we fully understand this market and their specific needs in order to provide the right service and visitor experiences. We are pleased to see Hastings Hotels lead the way in preparing and welcoming the increasing number of Chinese visitors to Belfast.”