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Talk with Mr. Daniel Wee, Deputy City Manager, Tianjin of Ascott China



Daniel Wee is the Singaporean Deputy City Manager for the 3 Somerset Serviced Residences in Tianjin. He has been with Ascott in China for about 3 years in total, 2 years in Shanghai and has recently moved to Tianjin. Today he talks to us about life in the serviced residences, and the new changes coming to one of the most prominent buildings in Tianjin, the Somerset International Building.   


First of all, congratulations for winning the 鈥淏est Serviced Residence Operator鈥 at the Best of Tianjin Award earlier this year. How did this award affect you and your properties? 

Thank you! We deeply appreciate your recognition and it was an honour to get the award. It is an acknowledgement of everyone's efforts and that we are going on the right path. There was a 'branding' when we received this award... the brand of 'Trust'. We are operating 3 Somerset branded serviced residences (managed by Ascott China) in Tianjin, two of which have built a reputation of over 10 years in the market. For biz travellers and tourists alike, they also find the second home here. So winning this award encourages our confidence in our biz here and wins the trust of being a leader in this industry.


As a Singaporean in a Singaporean company, you must understand the brand and its related concepts more deeply. How does the Ascott brand stand out from the competition?

Singapore is a small and relatively young country with significant position in the world. Same as the country, the 29-year history Ascott is also a fast developing company, especially in China. Many new residences are signed or opened every year. We now have over 70 cities in over 20 different countries all over the world. No doubt we are the world鈥檚 largest serviced residence owner-operator. Because we鈥檙e managing so many properties, we have more ability to make decisions, perfect our service, and set up service and operational standards. In the meantime, our staff can have the opportunity to grow together with the company and accumulate more experience, to become professionals in this industry. With these two powerful weapons, Ascott is literally setting the trend and always exceeds expectations.

In Singapore, we don鈥檛 have any natural resources, apart from our people. So when it comes to representing Singapore we are at our best in the service sector. So there is pride of course, that it is a Singaporean company and that we have established our name internationally, as a leader. To live up to the high standard we have set ourselves, we will be constantly upgrading and learning along the way. Our culture is simply to exceed expectations. This pushes us to discover and expand further. 


Could you tell us about the recently launched concept: 鈥淎scott Lifestyle鈥?

In this new world, businesses are moving so fast and everyone is travelling everywhere, moving to new environments. It can be a very dramatic change for guests and their families adapting to new surroundings. The 'Ascott Lifestyle' is created to minimise inconveniences and maintain our residents鈥 lifestyles so that they feel the most comfort, whilst living their lives. We are always advocating on our local community living environment and providing opportunities for residents to make friends with each other, to create their own circle. Meanwhile, personalised service is offered to residents with different nationalities and backgrounds, for them to indulge in a carefree home living and enjoy a peace of mind with our service and thoughtful attention. Also, Ascott is focusing on the idea of defining global green living. The idea is to encourage residents to cook in our kitchen with healthy ingredients and enjoy the fun of cooking, to encourage them to exercise in the gym; and to encourage energy conservation together with us.


How does Ascott interact with residents鈥 lives outside of the their apartments?

Our three residences in Tianjin are either located in prime districts or within the vicinity of convenient living areas. Moreover, we have different facilities and programmes or activities to complement one another. This not only adds more value for our residents but it creates a bigger community of friendships. Our Residents Activities, which bring together residents from all three properties, have really gone down well! Many foreigners have come to know china better.


How do you update and maintain your residences? 

With new projects entering the market, managing a historical landmark can be an ideal thing. The amount of history and reputation distinguish us from others. You can see the same building from outside. But inside, we鈥檙e upgrading various facilities from time to time, like the newly built parking building just put into use, and the renovations on the 36th floor. By the end of 2013, we will have a fully installed CBD-top lounge and gym. Our breakfast lounge, incidentally, was newly launched in January, but it has gained encouraging compliments so we are improving the facility again. 


How is life at the serviced apartments different from life at a normal hotel?

As we mentioned about the lifestyle, we are focusing on 鈥渓iving鈥 more than 鈥渟taying鈥. You may find yourself living like you would at home in a serviced residence and you have a life here. You live in a familiar environment with familiar staff and see familiar neighbours everyday rather than strangers, which makes you feel safe and comfortable. Our spacious living areas and kitchens in every apartment are obviously a lot better than a typical hotel room. 

Last year we launched an 鈥淎scott Host鈥 program specially for our long-stay and selected short stay loyal guests. Under the program each guest receives individual attention from one specially-designated employee known as the host, whom will contact them via email even before they arrive in the city. The main role of the Ascott Host is to do their utmost to help the new-arrivals settle in their new city of residence. The hosts will contact the guests prior to their arrival in the city, briefing them on the residence鈥檚 facilities, all amenities around the residence such as supermarkets and schools, and any other special requests the guest may have. They will also leave their phone numbers and email addresses so the guests can contact them at any time of the day. The program is planned to be extended to all customers in the future. On top of this we provide all relevant information for local services. We also provide iPads with translation software if there is not a host that speaks your language. Once you live here, you鈥檙e going to love it immediately.


What environmentally friendly initiatives do you implement at the serviced apartments?

We are implementing the Go Green concept worldwide. Every year鈥檚 Earth Hour is a must do, not only for us, but also our residents are encouraged to participate. Energy conservation tips are placed in every apartment to remind residents to save water and electricity. Garbage sorting is implementing in every residence. Printing materials are made by recycling paper in priority. So many things to go with the Green concept.

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