When it comes China, five-year plans typically call to mind drab government white papers outlining economic development. But for The Landmark London, a China-centric five-year strategy is helping to differentiate the Marylebone hotel from the plethora of five-star experiences on offer in the capital.
The Landmark may be one of London’s few remaining old-world railway hotels, boast 300 spacious rooms, a six-story winter garden, and a luxury skin-care spa, but as Andrew Batchelor, General Manager at The Landmark London, explains in interview with Jing Travel, accommodating Chinese guests takes more than providing a range of attractive facilities, it requires planning and attention to detail. “We are in the second year of a 5-year strategy to develop the business from this important market. We now see this developing into a long-term initiative as the strategy is proving to be working.”
Key to this drive is the hotel’s Double Happiness campaign, a playful take on the Chinese motif depicting a joyful marriage, which marries eight reasons to stay at The Landmark with eight reasons to visit Marylebone.
Reasons address both how The Landmark caters to the unique tastes of Chinese guests and the ways in which the hotel and its surrounding area appeals to “the appetite for the independent traveler to travel and experience new cultures and history,” says Batchelor.
First and foremost is payment; Landmark is the first and only hotel in London to accept WeChat Pay, it also accepts UnionPay, the most commonly held credit card in China. Next is language, the hotel employs Mandarin speaking staff in all guest facing aspects of the hotel and this extends far beyond a rudimentary concierge service. Whether it’s a walkthrough of afternoon tea etiquette, a guided trip to the Chelsea Flower Show, or a tour through of the 120-year-old building steeped in history and heritage, Landmark has experienced staff at the ready.
But the small details are equally revealing, the hotel revamped its WiFi, which caters to the high cellphone usage of Chinese guests, has tweaked its breakfast offerings and provides green tea in bedrooms. Then there’s the hotel’s prime position in Central London, “The Landmark London’s location has also driven the strategy, being perfectly placed for the Chinese visitor,” says Batchelor noting the “trains from Marylebone station directly outside the hotel to Bicester Village [an outlet mall extremely popular with Chinese visitors], Sherlock Holmes Museum and Baker Street… Bond Street shopping [which is] five minutes by taxi.”
Despite still being in the early stages of the strategy, the Leading Hotels of the World member is already seeing the benefits of its holistic China approach. “All areas of the business have seen an improvement in revenue from the Chinese visitor,” says Batchelor. “Food and Beverage particularly at Afternoon Tea is proving extremely popular. We measure success by increase in revenues, nationality statistics, and room nights all of which have increased 15%.”
The Landmark’s China-focused drive is a response to the increasingly crowded high-end hotel market, shrinking revenue from residential conferences, and the increasing price consciousness of once reliable clients such as financial institutions. With the increasing anxiety surrounding the UK’s geopolitical climate and its potential impact on the tourism market, Chinese visitors hold an increasingly important position, one that will doubtless see The Landmarks’ initiative become a norm rather than an exception.