GREAT hotels often carry similar genes and for Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai, its unrivalled riverside location, superb facilities and legendary service are its backbone of luxury and hospitality that have made its name over two decades.
“There has been huge growth in the Lujiazui area but one thing that doesn’t change is that we still have the same beautiful view of the Bund,” said Mark Kirk, area manager and general manager of Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai.
He just returned to helm of the twin-tower, 951-room iconic property of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts about four months ago.
The British native first joined the Pudong hotel as executive chef in 1998, but left two years later.
The changes he sees — not only about the property itself, but more about the city’s increasingly important role as a major global destination for MICE events — are therefore immense.
“When I was here there’s only one tower but now there are two towers and we have also got the second ballroom,” said the 24-year veteran with Shangri-La.
“Shanghai has become a destination and it is definitely on the top three choices of destinations for MICE in Asia, equal with Hong Kong and Singapore.”
MICE — meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions — is a booming industry and a focus for the hotel.
Strategically located in the heart of Lujiazui, which is often dubbed the Wall Street of China, Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai’s MICE business accounts for about 30 percent of the hotel’s revenue.
“We had great growth last year, partly driven by the opening of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai),” Kirk said. “The city is a destination now for exhibitions for both Chinese and international companies to show their growth in the fastest developing market in the world and all the mega shows have come to Shanghai.”
Boasting the largest number of rooms in the city — 576 rooms at the classic River Wing and 375 rooms at the contemporary and exclusive Grand Tower — as well as the largest banquet and meeting venue in a five-star hotel, Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai still retains its unique edge as other luxury hotels mushroom along both banks of the Huangpu River.
“We are on the right level to appreciate the true beauty of the Bund,” the general manager said. “The success of having two ballrooms also means we can have two break-out rooms, making it possible to run parallel events for large groups.”
Unmatched facilities aside, the ultimate strength of the hotel’s consistent excellence is always its staff, Kirk said.
“People trust our hotel, where a lot of staff actually have been here since the opening of the property,” Kirk said. “Our legendary service is one of our great advantages against the competition.”
The hotel is constantly upgrading: It is changing all the guestroom carpets in the River Wing and plans to change carpets in the ballroom at Grand Tower this month to give it a brand-new look and feel. Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai is also updating its TV systems over the next couple of months by replacing old TV sets and introducing new digital systems.
“From the MICE point of view, this will actually give event planners opportunities to have their own channel,” Kirk explained. “They can put their agenda, or any last minute changes, up onto the TV system.”
Also on the technology side, the hotel will partner with a company from Australia to improve audio visual solutions. When meeting organizers come to the hotel, they will be put in touch with hotel-based AV experts to make sure that they can receive the best AV support.
Replete with state-of-the-art facilities, the experienced service team at Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai particularly focuses on staging events that are memorable to the guests.
To create unforgettable experience, the hotel serves four themed coffee breaks which include “Old Shanghai,” an all-time favorite live-station offering that evokes a sense of nostalgia; “Orange,” which energizes delegates with bright pops of color and a good dose of vitamins; the outdoor “Garden” setting and a “Mr Bean” theme that features the much-loved comedian for a touch of humor.
Moreover, the Shangri-La group has also created Shangri-La Events Collection to bring event planners more benefits and incentives. They include 3 percent instant value, the planner toolkit, 10 percent future event credit and Golden Circle event planner rewards.
For this year, the general manager is looking for robust growth in MICE.
“It is definitely a growing business, despite concerns that meetings would reduce because of technology,” Kirk said. “Doing MICE incentives, or bringing people from different sections and from different companies together will help build a bond between people. The personal touch is definitely coming back.”
Shangri-La Events Collection
• 3% instant value
MICE planners may enhance an event further by instantly using 3 percent of event spend to use on extra little touches to make events even more memorable. This could be complimentary guestroom, room upgrades, round trip airport transfers, enhanced menu items for events and more.
• The planner toolkit
Planning events can be hard, so we have created a special toolkit of resources to make planning smooth and stress-free. This includes event management tools and a suite of on-site support including club floor access, personal office space with refreshment for event planners and private group check-in areas.
• 10% future event credit
Offering support that goes beyond one event, planners will receive 10 percent of an event spend, used as credit towards the next event.
• Golden Circle event planner rewards
Event planners will earn Golden Circle Award points for every meeting and event. Points can be used to redeem personal Shangri-La experiences or settle up to 5 percent of event spend.