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Creating Emotional Connections

Creating Emotional Connections
寤虹珛鎯呮劅绾藉甫

 

Interview with Vincent Pimont, General Manager of Peninsula Beijing
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Entrance and Rolls Royce The Peninsula Beijing is the city鈥檚 leading luxury hotel offering a blend of traditional Chinese elegance and contemporary international style in the heart of the capital. Following its recent landmark renovation, the hotel鈥檚 original 525 rooms have been reconfigured to 230 suites, creating Beijing鈥檚 only all-suite hotel and the city鈥檚 most spacious standard rooms.

 

The hotel is located near Wangfuijing in central Beijing within walking distance of major attractions, such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and surrounded by shops and affordable Chinese and international dining options.

 

The Peninsula Beijing combines spacious suite-style rooms and art-inspired interiors with a large indoor swimming pool and a world-class spa. Three exciting restaurants, Jing, Huang Ting and The Lobby, have earned the hotel an award-winning culinary pedigree, and The Peninsula Arcade presents boutiques by some of the world鈥檚 finest luxury brands. Yun Summer Lounge is a seasonal rooftop lounge serving Mediterranean small plates, modern cocktails and magnificent views. The Peninsula Art Gallery on the third floor shows original works by exciting Chinese artists, enabling guests to enjoy the best of Beijing鈥檚 arts scene without leaving the hotel.

 

The Peninsula Beijing is one of the few select hotels worldwide that is a part of the cultural fabric of its home city, such as The Ritz in Paris and The Plaza Hotel in New York. We spoke with the General Manager, Mr. Vincent Pimont, to better understand the hotel鈥檚 unique positioning.

Jing Bar at Jing RestaurantThe Peninsula Beijing opened its doors in 1989 as the first international luxury hotel in Beijing. How does it feel to manage such a legendary property?

 

I arrived here in 2007, and have stayed ever since apart from a three-year period when I opened The Peninsula Paris in the French capital. I feel extremely proud to be the General Manager of this wonderful hotel. As you said, we opened in 1989, so the hotel occupies a special place in Beijing鈥檚 modern history. In fact, many people still use its original Chinese name W谩ngf菙 B脿nd菐o Ji菙di脿n, or The Palace Hotel.

 

As one of the first international hotels in China, our luxury shopping arcade is home to some of the world鈥檚 most prestigious brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Harry Winston, Ralph Lauren, Bvlgari and Giorgio Armani 鈥 many of whom opened their first China stores at The Peninsula Arcade.

Beijing Suite Living RoomIt is undeniable that The Peninsula Beijing is a unique establishment in China. What steps do you take to uphold the hotel鈥檚 reputation as a place for prestigious events and exclusive services?

 

The Peninsula brand has a long tradition of hospitality excellence, and always sets new standards in design, luxury and comfort for guests. For 30 years, guests from around the world have enjoyed unparalleled service at The Peninsula Beijing, and we always strive to improve the experience.

 

It鈥檚 extremely important to personalise the experience for each guest. As an all-suites hotel, we extend an exceptional level of service before, during and after the stay. We collect our guests by luxury limousine from the airport or train station, and our Peninsula Pageboys are waiting at the hotel entrance to greet arriving guests, before a staff member escorts them to their suite. We don鈥檛 have reception desk, so we can make the arrival experience smoother and more personal.

Jing RestaurantMost of guests who stay in our hotel expect the very best service, best swimming pool, best spa and the best restaurants with the best chefs. But we try to exceed expectations by making our service more intuitive and personalised, and this creates emotional connections with our guests.

 

For example, we have regular guests from southern China who stay with us twice a week. To make each stay more convenient, we keep their luggage at the hotel and every time they arrive their clothes are clean and ready to wear in the wardrobe.

 

After moving to Paris in 2013 to open the Peninsula Paris, I knew that I would return. When I came back to manage The Peninsula Beijing鈥檚 exciting renovation, I saw some of our long-time clients, who told me that they still return to The Peninsula Beijing because each stay feels like coming home.

 

I think one of the reasons we have always been able to improve the service for guests is because many of our hotel team members have stayed with us for many years. They are extremely passionate and dedicated to our guests. When I first arrived in Beijing in 2007, hotel driver Steven picked me up at the airport. Returning from Paris almost 10 years later, Steven was again waiting for me, and I met the same Peninsula Page as I arrived at the hotel. This strong sense of community among our team enables us to emotionally connect with our guests.

BRE Dinner 03The Peninsula Beijing is a microcosm of modern China because of its traditional Chinese influenced design, availability of luxury shopping, traditional spa treatments and variety of cuisines and beverages. What will be your emphasis in the future to attract more guests?

 

We have worked incredibly hard over the past three years and spent US125 million dollars to completely redesign the entire hotel to reflect the combination of modern and historic art and architecture that makes Beijing such a special city. We are proud to have created a truly great product, and are positioning the hotel at the forefront of China鈥檚 exciting contemporary arts scene. We have opened an art gallery on the third floor enabling guests and local residents to gain free access to specially commissioned art works and exhibitions.

 

We also have an Artist in Residence programme, where emerging artists live and work at the hotel and have a platform to showcase their new work for guests to enjoy. We are not focusing on making money, but instead on supporting the next generation of young, local artists.

The Peninsula Beijing Deluxe Room BathroomIn your opinion, what has The Peninsula Beijing done to achieve the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star distinction in both 2018 and 2019?

 

As I mentioned, we have very good hardware, but the Forbes鈥 inspectors look beyond the actual hotel and assess the quality and consistency of our services. I think the real secret is that our service is totally genuine. We spend a lot of time on training all our new staff and giving them the opportunity to work at our sister Peninsula hotels around the world. This enables them to gain international experience and exposes them to different cultures and customer expectations. Investing our people inspires a real passion to create personal connections with our guests, and that is why we have earned prestigious awards from travel experts and magazines.

Ballroom Close upYour work experience speaks of how you truly are a global business leader. What has inspired you to this path? What continues to drive your success?

 

I try to avoid any comfort zone, and I challenge myself all the time. I like to travel, and it鈥檚 important for me to seek new inspirations during my trips, and to see what our competitors are doing. There is always room to improve, and sometimes it鈥檚 important to take a step back and assess where others are doing things better in certain aspects.

 

At the same time, I need to ensure that the hotel is successful financially, so we must always be prepared to learn and educate ourselves, and to seek the ideas of our younger staff who often provide fresh and innovative perspectives on the challenges we face.

Exterior IWhat top three competencies or skill sets do you think are necessary that global managers should have? Could you please give some advice to aspiring young professionals who want to follow in your footsteps?

 

A lot of people graduate from college and realize that what they have studied is not what they really want to do in life. Sometimes it takes patience to follow our true career paths. I always encourage people to find a career that excites them, that makes them feel passionate, and which they are good at. Finding your own inner qualities and skills is a very important step towards becoming a successful leader.

The Peninsula Beijing Fa脙adeThanks Mr Pimont for accepting our interview. It has been incredible illustrative and we feel so honoured to be with you and this remarkable hotel that has got so many distinctions. I wish you all the best, even to be the best is normal for you.

 

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