Tony Marrinan joined the hotel industry by accident. During a period of traveling in Europe, he started working for a hotel and ended up falling in love with hospitality. Following stints in the UK and Australia, he moved to China with his family in 2009. We talked to him about the challenges and opportunities of managing Hilton Beijing Capital Airport hotel. 

Are there any advantages or disadvantages of managing and marketing an airport hotel?
There are great advantages to managing the Hilton Beijing Capital Airport. Many guests choose our hotel because of its convenient location next to Terminal 3. We all know that the Beijing traffic can be heavy so we now have many guests that stay with us if they have a morning or afternoon flight. We run a shuttle bus every 20 minutes to Terminal 3 and every 30 minutes to Terminal 2. Of course, another advantage is that we have a great mixture of Chinese and international guests. This keeps us on our toes as the service and expectations can be quite different. We also have large conference facilities so if you have International guests flying to Beijing, our hotel is an ideal venue to have your meeting.

Who are your customers and what are they looking for?
As mentioned before, our guests come from all over the world. Forty-five percent of our business is customers from international destinations who mainly are here to conduct business. No matter where our guests come from or their reason for coming to our hotel, they all want appropriate service. Conrad Hilton’s vision, and it remains Hilton’s vision to this day (96 years later), is that it is “our responsibility to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.” For me, to be constantly in the top 25 hotels on TripAdvisor for Beijing (5,463 hotels in Beijing) is a good barometer. Not bad for an airport hotel!

Do you have much time to connect personally with the guests?
I will meet guests every morning and evening in our executive lounge. I always introduce myself if I see guests checking in or waiting for a shuttle in the lobby. At Hilton, customer feedback is taken very seriously and it is a focal point for all of our meetings and briefings.

What benefit do the hotel’s restaurants bring? Do the restaurants have any upcoming promotions?
Our Sichuan restaurant, My China, is very popular with Beijing residents and our Sunday brunch at 360 Restaurant is a popular place to unwind with family – without having to worry about finding a parking space. Many of our guests stay for just one night so we don’t have much time to impress them. Therefore every restaurant has to offer a great experience, not just in terms of food, but in terms of ambiance and service. Our Executive Chef Chris Cheng, from Hong Kong, has just changed the menus in all our restaurants. 

Our online marketing manager has devised a great promotion that allows you to turn your virtual social media friends in the city into real friends. There are four easy steps: Choose the friends you want to meet for lunch or dinner, then choose a restaurant at a Hilton Hotel in Beijing and receive a promotional discount. Make a reservation, and send an e-invite to your friends. We all have so many friends on WeChat but how often do we actually meet up with them? 

When you’re not at the hotel, how do you spend your spare time?
[Laughs] I live in the hotel, so technically I am always on call. I love Beijing and exploring the sights with my wife and friends. There are some great restaurants in the city and now that summer is here I hope to be able to play some golf. My wife is now officially addicted to majiang!

More stories by this author here.

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Photo courtesy of Hilton Beijing Capital Airport

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