Iconic hotel weathering COVID-19 pandemic
Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai, a key landmark in the heart of Lujiazui acclaimed for its location, facilities and hospitality, has seen a steady recovery in business as it shifts toward domestic demand and an enhanced focus on safety and sustainability.
“We are very happy with our recovery of business as we continue to explore opportunities in the market,” said Gregor Wateler, a German who has been at the helm of the twin-tower hotel for more than three years. “Our prime location in the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, where the financial, securities and legal companies are clustered, has brought us a lot of partners in these sectors to sustain our core business.”
Situated along the east bank of the Huangpu River with spectacular Bund views, the hotel is one of the city’s largest banquet and meeting operators with more than 8,000 square meters of indoor and outdoor space, including two large ballrooms and 14 versatile function rooms. The hotel, a flagship property of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in China boasting 10 restaurants, bars and lounges as well as 972 rooms, typically hosts more than 1,000 events a year. The hotel’s outside catering service is able to cater to events for up to 8,000 guests.
To weather the COVID-19 crisis, the hotel joined a group-wide global campaign in June to elevate its already rigorous hygiene and safety protocols.
As part of a “Shangri-La Cares” commitment, a series of safety and hygiene measures have been implemented across all Shangri-La hotels on the Chinese mainland with an enhanced focus on six key areas — disinfection, air quality, guestroom hygiene, dining, laundry and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) services.
“As people look to travel in the future, health, safety and sustainability will remain topmost in the mind, particularly as the world continues to react and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Wateler said. “Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai upholds the ‘Shangri-La Cares’ commitment to provide a safe hotel experience for all our guests and colleagues.”
The only foreign-invested hotel in Shanghai to be awarded “Hotel Pioneer in Anti-epidemic” by the Shanghai Tourism Trade Association, Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai has taken a number of precautionary measures to combat COVID-19. Increased disinfection of guestrooms and public areas, enhanced food procurement and handling procedures, temperature checks for staff and guests, health and travel declaration forms for guests and protective items such as face masks and hand sanitizing gel for guests and staff, have all been adopted.
While 2020 is a bumpy year for the global economy, and especially the hospitality industry, Wateler is optimistic about the continuing improvement of the MICE segment this year and beyond.
“The MICE business will get much better for the rest of 2020 and through 2021 as there are numerous big citywide events going on, such as the China International Import Expo and Bauma Exhibitions both to be held in November, and the WorldSkills Shanghai to be hosted next September, which will together make the entire city vibrant,” he said. “Our focus now is with the domestic business, and we expect the transition to continue through next year as the economy further recovers.”
To boost its MICE business, the hotel has introduced several initiatives, mainly including the Pan China MICE offer and a partnership program with Shanghai Disney Resort.
Under a “Meet at Shangri-La” offer, valid from August 1 to December 31 this year, clients who make a booking and hold their event at the hotel will receive a 3 percent credit to Master Bill, a 5 percent credit for future events in any Shangri-La hotel and resort on the Chinese mainland, as well as double Golden Circle points.
The hotel joined the Shanghai Disney Resort Hotel Partnership Program in July 1 to provide an exclusive service for its visitors. The partnership, including assistance with tickets and operating a daily shuttle service between the hotel and the resort, allows the hotel to tailor customized events for its MICE clients.
While health and safety is a top priority for the hotel in the post-COVID-19 era, sustainability remains a long-term commitment.
An ecologically sustainable events package has been launched at the hotel, with a goal of raising the bar of eco-friendliness of catering and events that will eventually improve productivity and wellness of meeting and event attendees.
“It is hotel’s objective to host ecologically sustainable events to the greatest extent possible,” Wateler said. “Minimizing waste, sourcing local food, bulk purchasing and similar pursuits will have an enormous impact on decreasing our carbon footprint.”
A catering service for corporations and offering guests an eco-friendly event, ESE encompasses three tiers of meeting packages catering for various occasions and budgets — Sustainable Plus, Sustainable Premium and Sustainable Deluxe.
The basic package is mainly about the elimination of disposable plastic items. A sustainable event dining kit, consisting of plastic-free water dispensers, bamboo cutlery, paper stirrers and straws, biodegradable coffee cups and takeaway boxes as well as reusable bamboo cups, is provided to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible.
With a focus on the use of sustainable, eco-sensitive products and the reduction of food waste, the hotel’s culinary team will provide a variety of healthy dishes without any chemical flavor enhancers. As for lunch options, the hotel offers Marine Stewardship Council certified marine fish and sustainable bento boxes. Digital menu boards will reduce paper use. Meeting and event attendees will also be provided with items such as recycled paper pencils, modern function room tables and water dispensers.
For more upscale occasions, the Sustainable Premium and Sustainable Deluxe packages will create a more natural and creative ambiance and provide meeting and event organizers with additional options including health talks and yoga classes, personalized coffee mugs and room key cards, fruit and vegetable juice stations and organic tea and coffee breaks.