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Why Beijing Hotels Lose in March

By Chen Yong (陈勇)
Nation, page 11
Issue No. 562
Mar 26, 2012
Translated by Zhu Na
Original article:

A week after the end of the "two sessions," Han Xiaoyin (韩小音) breathed a sigh of relief.

Han is in charge of one of the five-star hotels in Beijing where delegates are accommodated during the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that both begin in the first week of March.

During those sessions, which last for two weeks, a carefully organized operation provides food, accommodation and transportation to the 5,000 or so delegates.

The operation involves 70,000 people, with 23 certified caterers serving up 1,000 different dishes.

More than 700 vehicles are used to ferry the delegates around the city, and more than 20 hotels are closed to the general public while their rooms and staff are set aside for delegates.

The training program for staff at Han's hotel began in early February.

The names and photos of representatives of NPC members were posted in the staff hallway, and employees were required to recognize them all.

"The training starts with learning faces. You need to be able to recognize their faces on first sight in order to provide better service," said one hotel employee.

In fact, this is only the first step of the training.

"The work for this year's [sessions] only just finished, there are only a few months break and then the preparations for next year's meeting start again," said one man who used to be involved in organizing the NPC meetings.

When it comes to the vehicles for the delegates, the man said that the delegates require high-end cars that look stylish.

Their coaches need to have more than 50 seats and be equipped with two doors, so that passengers can be easily evacuated if necessary. They need to have at least 500 kilometers on the odometer, as well as being less than three years old and meeting environmental and energy-efficiency standards.

Hotel staff working during the "two sessions," also have to attend special training sessions on subjects like hygiene, safety and etiquette. During the classes, particular emphasis is placed on safety, courtesy and service and students are tested afterwards.

The staff are told: "When meeting [the delegates], first of all [you] need to remember to smile, and then call out the surname and title of representatives and members."

"When there's danger, [you] need to immediately protect the safety of representatives and members, regardless of personal danger."

Those who work as service staff at the "two sessions" are also expected to memorize information about different ethnicities and their taboos as well as facts about Beijing's tourist sites, roads and local specialties.

All food is carefully checked before being served – its procurement, processing, storage and service are also monitored.

The hotels also sent their chefs to the various provincial representative offices in order to learn how to prepare different kinds of regional cuisine.

In addition to guarding the hotels, security departments carry out fire safety inspections around the buildings.

From a financial perspective, the "two sessions" are a burden on the hotels.

For example, a large room with a listed price of 1,000 yuan, will be rented at a nightly rate of 200 yuan during the two weeks.

On the cost side, the hotels are required to buy food from certified suppliers that charge up to 40 percent more than they normally pay.

Han says his hotel loses about four million yuan over the two week period.


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