About Michael Zhou
With over 23 years of extensive management experience in the hospitality industry, Michael has held various management positions in Dalian, Hefei, Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, as well as at key Hilton Worldwide properties in Malaysia and Bangkok. He held the position of director of operations at Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, the luxury brand of Hilton Worldwide.
We are honored to interview Michael on April 14, 2016!
1. ShenzhenParty: I understand you have 23 years experience in hotel management. What motivated you to go into the hotel industry in the very beginning?
Michael: At that time hotel industry was, and still is today one of the industries very much exploring into the international world. That was one of the motivations for me, because you feel that this industry can keep your eyes open wider, and be more interactive with the outside world. You see more, you explore more.
2. ShenzhenParty: Understood. You mean like, as an example, getting to meet foreigners who are coming to China for business purposes, etc?
Michael: Yeah, we have a lot of international people coming worldwide. Also you have a lot of colleagues with different background working in the same company, same hotel. This diversity of culture, people, and personalities deeply attracts me: diversity of thinking, diversity of talking, those would give you more interesting and dynamic prospects than working in a traditional working environment.
3. ShenzhenParty: Right, I can understand that. What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Michael: Well if you ask me it should be “hospitality” no doubt, meeting the people. Secondly you see the effort of your team. By the end of the month, the end of the year, you see the outcome. The effort achieves the outcome. It’s like chain reaction, on one side you enjoy what you are doing day to day, meeting people and putting huge effort to make people comfortable, happy, and satisfied. That’s how the service industry is supposed to be. On the other side you will achieve the business goal at the end of each period.
4. ShenzhenParty: So the job satisfaction actually comes from seeing satisfied customers at the hotel.
Michael: Yes and bringing success of the business. From the satisfied customer, satisfied team member, that naturally leads to a success business outcome.
5. ShenzhenParty: Understood. What are the most challenging issues that you face as a general manager?
Michael: I would say, personally for me is trying to balance between work and life. The hospitality industry is a 24 hour business, you can spend just 8 hours, you can spend 14 hours. It’s very much up to you. But for me, because the business is running 24 hours, I always try to be engaged with the business, with guests, and with team members. You know, but meanwhile you still have your family life, you still have your family that needs to be taking care of. It’s not easy for you to have a good balance, especially when you constantly have a running ball.
ShenzhenParty: How many hours a day do you work? Generally speaking?
Michael: Generally speaking 12 hours is quite normal. it depends on what the business needs.
6. ShenzhenParty: Understood. In the eyes of your employees, what’s the single most important quality that you have?
Michael: I just asked a few of my team members, some of them probably say efficiency. I prefer to get things done fast and quick, especially in Shenzhen because it’s quite a fast developing city, we are facing quite a competitive marketing environment. So in order to achieve our goal, we got to move fast. I thinkthat’s why they see efficiency in me.
7. ShenzhenParty: An efficient leader to follow, basically. Lead by example, in your opinion what is the single best quality your employees can have?
Michael: I would say it’s the hospitality, to put it simple, it’s a warm smile, just that simple. We are working in this industry, no matter what high technical skills people may have, the base of what our business is hospitality. Taking care of our guests, taking care of the people around us is fundamentally important to work in this business.
8. ShenzhenParty: As a hotel, what kind of trainee would your hotel hire?
Michael: People who are passionate for the service industry and I would say who is eager to be able to interact and work with people. Because we found a lot of people who are super smart. However, not really suitable for the…
ShenzhenParty: Not team players.
Michael: Not team players, not very people oriented. If they were in other industries they would probably be a success. But in the service industry we really need people who are team players.
9. ShenzhenParty: Understood. What advice would you give people who aspire to be successful in the hotel industry?
Michael: First things first, learn all the basics, and don’t really rush too fast. You need to get the basics done right, and the rest of success will come naturally.
ShenzhenParty: So basically what you are saying is, start from the ground and work your way up. That way you understand everything about the hotel.
Michael: Yeah, because the hotel industry is dealing with human beings, including your team members, including your colleagues, including customers. So you want to be able to understand what they really need. If you don’t know what they want it’s very hard for us to success.
10. ShenzhenParty: In your opinion what would be the most memorable day of your career?
Michael: Oh, the first day I joined the business. The first day. You know at that time the hotel industry was not how it likes today. At that time there were very few hotels that existed in the cities. When I first joined the hotel it was a completely different picture, how do you say, ball game. I felt like the dynamic was completely different from the way I had gotten used to, like from school, or at home. So that’s when I completely saw a new world for the first time, the first day I joined the hotel. the most memorable day for me, and the start of my career.
11. ShenzhenParty: I’m just curious, how did you start your career? In what position did you start your career?
Michael: As a receptionist at the front desk.
ShenzhenParty: Wow. That’s impressive!
Michael: Yes, at that time I didn’t know too much about hotels. There was just a friend who used to work in that hotel. It was before I had any sense about working in the hotel, just by talking to my friend who used to work in the hotel business and he was telling me what a hotel looks like. He was telling me what was like in the Western restaurant and Chinese restaurant, and what is the so called receptionist, and what is a so called Business center. It’s kind of words that before I didn’t hear too much. So I had a little bit brief concepts of hotels. Then one day there was a hotel that was open and recruiting people, luckily they asked me, what was I interested in. I thought that my English capability was a strong plus point. So naturally I thought Western restaurant, where English speaking would be required. So I apply for a Western restaurant.
ShenzhenParty: So you have no F and B experience or no hospitality experience whatsoever prior to that?
Michael: No, I just knew that probably I would be trained. But I thought they needed someone with language capability, because in a Western restaurant you are dealing with a lot of International guests, you have to be able to deal with a certain language. That’s the logic behind in my mind, but after that, after all the interview process they said okay we will put you in the receptionist. I heard a little bit about receptionist before so I wasn’t surprised. I thought, okay anyhow I had no idea about hotels. So if you told me I’m more suitable for receptionist, then I would take it.
12. ShenzhenParty: Understood. You have lead the team of Double Tree by Hilton Chongqing North. In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between Chongqing and Shenzhen?
Michael: I would say Chongqing is um… the major difference is that Chongqing in terms of our team members, most of their homes are in Chongqing, Including most of the managers, their families base there. But Shenzhen is a more mobile city, where most people are coming from other cities. So as far as culture wise, Shenzhen is more diverse. Chongqing is more, kind of stick to home culture developed from their history.
13. ShenzhenParty: Understood. What do you think Hilton Futian can bring to Shenzhen locals that’s not available elsewhere?
Michael: Actually a lot of things are available now in Shenzhen. There’s nothing you can’t find in Shenzhen. It has 30 years of fast development. But what we want to bring to the market or to the people, is delivering a quality product, in terms of service, in terms of food. Whatever product, we strive for excellence. Nowadays in China you look around, a lot of things already exist, so now it’s about raising the quality, more elegant, more finery. Long before it was looking for quantity, now I would say it’s more of looking for quality. We want to deliver a much higher quality product to the locals.
14. ShenzhenParty: Understood. As we all know Shenzhen is a very dynamic city, it is growing extremely fast. What is your hope for Hilton Futian?
Michael: My hope for this place is to be the first choice for team members, for guests, and for the owner. I want this hotel to not only be the best in the business perspective but also a good place for people to work, because team members contribute the hotel. People are here not only to look for commercial success but also to enjoy what they are doing every day. We run this hotel not only for the investment company but also for employee who work here and for the customer who stay with us. That’s what I want to see.
ShenzhenParty: Understood. Well, Michael, thank you very much for your time today, it’s been very interesting speaking with you and we wish you all the very best with the new venture!
Michael: Thank you very much!
About Hilton Shenzhen Futian
Centrally located in Shenzhen’s Central Business District, Hilton Shenzhen Futian is within walking distance of the Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Centre and City Hall. The hotel is just 35.9 kilometers away from Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, and also enjoys convenient access to Hong Kong’s border and the Huanggang or Futian Ports, all within three kilometers. In addition, the hotel will provide guests with an exciting experience of the city with convenient access to shopping malls and more.
Guests at Hilton Shenzhen Futian can indulge in a variety of on-site dining options, spacious accommodations and state-of-the-art business and leisure facilities while staying connected to the city center complex. Guests can start the day with a delicious breakfast and enjoy various cuisines at Mis.U, an all-day dining venue, or visit Lan Ting Chinese restaurant to enjoy contemporary Cantonese and Sichuan specialties, expertly prepared by our Cantonese Head Chef and his team. Guests can enjoy afternoon tea, coffee and pastries or catch up with friends over a wide selection of drinks in a laid-back atmosphere at the trendy Lobby Lounge, or they can sit back with a glass of wine or a whiskey at Mr. Wong bar, enjoying spectacular city views while immersed in the sounds of jazz.
Hilton Shenzhen Futian features a broad range of modern amenities, including a 24-hour fitness center and a 25-meter heated outdoor swimming pool. Spanning 400 sq. meters on the 20th and 21st floors, the Executive Lounge offers complimentary breakfast, evening cocktails and private Check-In and Check-Out services for guests staying in executive rooms and suites.
Hilton Shenzhen Futian has 17 versatile function spaces comprising 2,400 sq. meters, including a 600 sq. meter pillar-free Grand Ballroom that can be configured with the latest conferencing technology to deliver a memorable meeting experience. From corporate events to social gatherings, Hilton Shenzhen Futian’s dedicated events team will help plan a successful event down to the last detail.
Chinese and Pinyin Name:
深圳大中华希尔顿酒店 Hilton Shenzhen Futian
Place Address (English/Pinyin):
Tower B, Great China International Finance Centre, Shenzhen, 518000, China
广东省深圳市福田区深南大道 1003 号大中华国际金融中心 B 座
Website: Hilton Shenzhen Futian’s Website
Place Phone: +86 (755) 21308888