Category Archives: Brands

Grand Hyatt Shanghai: You eat in my hotel, I eat in yours~

Welcome hoteliers!

LinkedIn is such a powerful networking tool if you use it right. If you add everyone and never communicate with them, what’s the point?

When I listed my position on LinkedIn, I had many requests to connect, as well as requested to connect with others; Grand Hyatt was very popular in Shanghai. So I made some good contacts but my closet contact was with a man from Dubai. He was working as a Ritz executive club manager at the Ritz Carlton Pudong hotel next door to Grand Hyatt and boy was I salty. 

Ritz Carlton Pudong Club Lounge

Ritz Carlton is actually my favorite hotel chain.

Well, I love Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, Park Hyatt, Ritz Carlton & Four Seasons. So Ritz is one of my favorites let’s say that.

The Ritz Carlton Pudong was a bit more international than the staff at Grand Hyatt. The Front Office Manager at Grand Hyatt, a German guy, was leaving after being there for 3 years. Leaving me, and the interns who would also leave soon as the only expats in the front office. However the Ritz had a Director of Rooms who was a Hispanic woman, my friend from Dubai, an assistant front office manager who I didn’t meet but was international as well, more interns than us and more foreigner staff overall; Grand Hyatt only had around 8 foreign staff excluding interns.

Connections are very important, I always knew this, however the DOR (director of rooms) was a director in Dubai as well, her husband was from Dubai, they worked at a JW Marriott there, and my friend was also from Dubai, they worked with him and brought him to China after they settled there, that’s incredible to me because it isn’t easy to get in China trust me, I had luck + language + skills they needed that’s the only way I was getting in at my level.

So the club manager and myself became pretty good friends and he would invite me to meet up at the club lounge. And partake of some incredible incredible… one more time… incredible club food. So I introduced him to our club manager a few weeks later and he ate at our club. Of course this was rather under the table, and don’t even be shocked, all kinds of things like this happen in hotels.


Most times, staff can’t really get the opportunity to try the nice fancy stuff guests enjoy, although in new hotels this is changing. How can we recommend and describe the flavors in the food, comfort of the bed, views etc. without having tested it?

So it became quite often for me to go to Ritz for a meal before or after work, and for him likewise… until we got caught. Our DOR (director of rooms) noticed him from before and wanted to have a meal and see what was going on. After they chatted, it was fine, but he had to pay half the price and could only come by letting us know.


So yeah, he got caught and it became regulated, but what was surprising is that it was allowed to continue at all. Meanwhile I was sneaky to avoid detection at the Ritz ;D. In the end, I just paid each time to treat my buddy, since Ritz club food was way more expensive than our club. Friends over food are friends for life! 


Thanks for stopping by, and see you in the next article!

Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper

Have pride in your hotel!

Welcome hoteliers!

This article is something that even I have to remind myself to do at times! No one loves their job all of the time, it’s easy to criticize it, take it for granted, and even as ambitious as I am, I have to stop sometimes and think, why am I knocking my job?

Most people, usually leave bad managers, not bad jobs, but what makes people stay?

Grand Hyatt Shanghai has had some issues, okay, a ton of issues, and I will definitely spill, but what kept me there week after week?

Well… because it’s the Grand Hyatt!

Grand Hyatt Shanghai, night view

I love the hotel industry, and I think about what goes into a brand. Think about the Four Seasons for example and how it started, Father and Son building hotels from the ground up.

How about the design teams to design rooms, the companies designing programs to make the staff’s lives easier, the promotions online to make guests happy and keep them coming to keep us employed, the packages and cheap travel deals they offer employees.

There’s so much that goes into one hotel. Think about a brand, as a manager, or even front line agent, personally I wear my brand as a badge of honor. I had always coached the employees to have “pride in your hotel.”



Maybe the product isn’t perfect, maybe management isn’t perfect, but the work, dreams, and labor to build a magnificent property is why I think there is a certain pride to be an ambassador in this property.

I have this belief of a true sense of hospitality, something I feel most hotel employees are lacking these days, something that the industry is struggling with.

On Christmas, although I was working, I was coaching a staff member who was upset because a guest came to the desk to complain about the shower not working etc.

After the agent calmed down, I said imagine if you went to the a hotel overseas and you couldn’t shower after paying $600 a night; so the guest’s frustration is warranted. Rather than argue, let’s work to find a solution. But, it goes deeper than that, we are ambassadors not just of the individual hotel, but of the company, and not just that, but to international guests, we represent our country.



International guests, usually see the hotel staff as the representatives of the country. They’re usual interactions, if not visiting for business, are with the immigration at airports (nervous interaction.) taxi driver (hit or miss interaction,) and the hotel staff! So we should do our best to leave a fantastic impression!

My advice from this random article! 🙂
Working in a hotel is not just any old job, you need to have a sense of service and the desire to create experiences! That is true hospitality and I try to distill this to all staff at any property I work at; have pride in your hotel!


Best Regards,
Daniel Cooper

Hotel turnover! Part I

Welcome hoteliers!

Turnover… a touchy issue for employers all over the world. And in hotels, well it’s rampant!

I mean, there’s so many brands, so many options, lots of vacant positions, hotels are always hiring because people are always getting promoted, resigning, changing departments, it’s quite hectic really.

However the reasons for the turnover are quite different in countries say, China, Korea, and the United Stated.

Being that I worked in all three countries, and whilst generalizations to an extent I want to discuss this in 2 parts. Mainly to shed some light about Asian hotel hiring situations that you prospective hoteliers might encounter and as some food for thought as well. 🙂

United States!


Our country is big, and there are many regional differences, but let’s talk about the turnover rate in NYC!

In NY the main turnover is with management; particularly middle management. Front line staff are unionized in most hotels, meaning their position is very stable! They pay the hotel unions a weekly “union dues” and in exchange the union offers protection, representation, helps find a job if you get laid off under certain circumstances, seeking a new job etc. the union offers much, so the front line staff usually stay; plus they make more than the managers!

The managers on the other hand are climbing to the top and usually change hotels within the same brand, such as a person in a Courtyard Marriott might jump to a Ritz Carlton and then to a JW Marriott since it’s all in the Marriott family group of hotels. So managers are seeking higher salaries, advancement opportunity, and growth.

Most managers will only remain for a year or so, then transfer to another property. This means that staff is constantly meeting, getting to know, then saying goodbye to constantly changing management. That definitely creates a strain on morale and loyalty, my impression of the most staff in the hotel, is: “oh boy, another manager… (sarcasm)”

That’s for the US anyway!




For China I’m going to use Shanghai and Chengdu since I’ve worked substantially in these 2 cities.

The management does move around but usually after 2-3 years in a position however the front staff especially front desk agents and in F&B, the F&B hosts are the usual source of high turnover.

Actually, China has an issue with front line staff staying and gaining enough experience to become managers, hence it’s one of many reasons overseas managers are present, although that is changing.

Unlike in the USA, the pay is extremely low for front line staff, they’re usually living together in staff housing provided by the hotel, and the staff cafeteria isn’t very good. So the work conditions are okay however the living conditions is quite disappointing; if you’re anything like me, you don’t fancy sharing living space. Because of all of this, it’s easy to see why agents change jobs for a completely different hotel brand just for an extra $100 a month!

Also the hotel demands a high level of English language competency for front of house staff, which is to be expected, coupled with overnight shifts and these conditions… it makes for quite a frustration build up. One former agent put it like this:

“If I can speak good English and I have these skills, instead of working for this low wage, I can go work in an office job doing trading or sales with foreign companies and make $500 more a month!”


South Korea!


Have to make that distinction there~ anyways, in S. Korea, jobs are scarce as the competition is extremely fierce in major cities like Seoul; even fiercer than NYC and I’m quite serious. Hiring practices are insane, front line staff must “look” the part. So much so that Koreans often have surgery not just for school or because they want to enhance themselves to boost their confidence; it’s also to be able to get a job.

In S. Korea, looks can get a job over experience in some cases. One friend even told me of a minimum height requirement for men and woman in front offices! But back to the main point!

Because jobs are scarce, the turnover is much lower, and the salaries are much higher then say China but a little lower than NY, the turnover rate is quite low. While good in a way, it makes the hotel system quite bland which is Korea’s problem. I actually really love Korean culture and definitely want to go back, but there’s no real opportunity to get into the hotels mainly because there’s no openings. The other factor affecting hiring and turnover, which is similar to to China, is hiring overseas born Koreans or Chinese is becoming more and more popular and they will often take the internship positions as well, since they speak English fluently in most cases!

What does this mean to you, the future or current hotelier who is aspiring to become a General Manager?

If you’re going to work in NY, become familiar with unions, as I’m doing now, still getting used to it! If you’re going to work in China, get used to constantly training constantly changing staff, it’s fun at first, but after constant resignations and new hires, it gets old, and if you’re in Korea, cherish that job because it’s quite hard to get in!

That’s all for this first article, next one I’ll show you my experience dealing with these factors and how I handled it! Thanks for stopping by and see you in the next article!



Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper

Grand Hyatt Shanghai: Right place at the right time~!!!

Welcome hoteliers!

Life’s certainly interesting how things work out and this job was definitely one of those situations.

Grand Hyatt Shanghai was a place with a lot of issues, every hotel has issues but we certainly had a ton, but that was the beauty of it. The hotel had been operating for 17 years, which is very old; although it had completed a nice renovation two years before I joined.

Deluxe King size room with a view! Grand Hyatt Shanghai

The problem with old hotels isn’t the product, it’s the owners.

The hotel lifespan in China is very short. In the beginning they invest like crazy to have the best of the best product wise, with foreign workers, top chefs etc. then 3 years down the line, they roll out their staff reduction plans, cut high level positions in favor of cheaper local alternatives which makes sense, I mean it’s China, but you do have to cater to your international guests too.

Then the owning company starts to only care about profit and forget the true sense of hospitality. And that’s when the major issues start to surface. The leadership down to management down to the front line staff, feel the need to cut costs. For example, in order to cut costs, we resorted to giving the guests only 1 room key so we don’t need to order as many room keys; many people, and understandably so, like to take hotel keys as souvenirs. I like that, I mean, isn’t our job to leave lasting experiences anyway?

We also had to limit compensation regardless of the nightmare stay for the guest. Using out of order rooms with messed up facilities as last sell on sold out nights but putting them back in service to put a body in the room; once the guest is seen as walking money, service falls.

I’ve seen this trap many times, but Grand Hyatt was special. Most hotels don’t escape this trap, rather, they encourage it. If they cut costs one year, cut more the next. Makes sense right? But it’s horrible for hotels! Don’t compromise guest experience!


Sorry about that, but I’m passionate about guest experiences.

Grand Hyatt though was trying it’s best to reverse that, our GM who was from the UK, had put such an emphasis on guest experience that it was shocking. I never worked with a more hands on GM who was always present in the lobby, asked questions to staff to make sure we were prepared, had weekly meetings, watched scores and demanded answers for every bad survey. You name it he was on it, and I respected him for it. He was in between serving the owners who wanted to make huge ROI (return on investment) and ensuring staff is happy, so we treat the guest right.

The way I see it, the job of the agents is to make guests happy, the supervisors protect the agents from the managers who want efficiency in business hotels such as Grand Hyatt, the managers protect the staff from the directors who want to cut costs and force us to give guests one key, and reuse items if not visibly damaged. The directors protect the department from the GM and owners who want to cut positions to save money and make one man work as three. Efficiency is good, but the staff aren’t robots… at least for now.

Hyatt Regency3
This is really a thing… at Hyatt Regency Tokyo

And finally, the GM protects the hotel from the owners who 95% of the time, never worked in the industry, don’t know anything about hotels and only see it as piece of real estate and see people as walking money. The GM also has to tell the owners what’s best for them, I mean, why hire an experienced expert and not listen to his/her advice?

The hotel was in a state of change and I felt that not only could I achieve great things there, but I could learn so much more; and that I did. It was my 2nd week and I created the “guest interaction workshop” with HR for all front of house employees. The way Grand Hyatt was trying to redefine itself, I definitely knew I was at the right place at the right time.

My advice being to recognize each job for the opportunities that may emerge. Sometimes in the most chaotic of situations, lie an opportunity to change, own, or redefine something that changes everything! In hotels, look for something that you can own and take care of; not only is it a great resume builder, but leave your mark in the hotel’s future process and watch your legacy grow!

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next article!


Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper


My first day at Grand Hyatt Shanghai! I realized why I was hired!

Welcome hoteliers.

The last article was about my first night back in Shanghai, and how I went to club Modu, which was probably not the smartest idea. However Modu would become a hangout spot that became a theme in my time in Shanghai.

I was told by FYU (Guest Service Manager) that I would start work at 10am, so obviously I figured I would have some time to rest, however my room was called at 7am and asked if I was coming to morning briefing. Obviously confused I asked who I was speaking with and of course it was the Front Office Manager.


They texted me on my US number which didn’t work because I was now in China. I also arrived at the hotel a little past 11pm which means I did not have a phone number yet; but I told them I’d be ready by 8 and ready I was.

When I got to the desk it was quite exciting, we had some international interns, two interns from Indonesia and one from Hong Kong but was originally from India! I got introduced to the team, surprised everyone with my Chinese, got all the materials I needed and just a brief department rundown and I was done for the day.

I figured I’d relax and get some sleep, I was obviously exhausted, but not even an hour later my room got called. The front office manager was a gentleman from Germany, but he had stepped away and there was an international guest who demanded to speak to an international manager.

The problem? The agent didn’t understand his English accent, when she said “let me get my manager,” he began attacking her English, poor girl. So I was called to rescue the damsel in distress. Guest wanted a room with a tub and extra coffee in room.


So after putting out that fire, I decided to just stay at the front desk and observe; that first day showed me 90% of the issues the front desk suffered from, and I had realized why I was hired.

1.) I’m from the United States and I can speak Chinese. I can bridge the gaps at the front desk since the Front Office Manager didn’t speak Chinese. (In China usually at the Front office manager position and above, you don’t need to necessarily need to speak the local language because you don’t have too much guest engagement, you’re more administrative, but, I suggest learning)!

2.) I’m from NY, so I know how to handle crazy situations. I know how to tell the guest no if they’re being overly inconsiderate of our efforts to work together, but I don’t physically say no! (In Chinese culture, their version of polite is to agree then find a reason to decline after the other party leave, so as to not cause a loss of face; face being an article for later)!

3.) Grand Hyatt Shanghai had a large foreign clientele base and many contracts with multi-national companies; much more than I expected, even for Shanghai! The western traveler likes to small talk, laugh, meet new people, and have a warm check in experience. The Asian traveler wants to be checked in ASAP. Does not really want to engage strangers, does not want to be kept waiting and it’s a little awkward to make useless small talk. (Of course generalizations, and doesn’t entirely apply to all business guests either. But most western guests are more casual, most Asian guests we had, just want their room and does not like being asked questions).

4.) The staff was a bit robotic. Staring at the computers like robots and not engaging the guests. In NY we have a 5-10 rule; 5 feet engage guest (good morning, evening, etc.) 10 feel acknowledge guest (nod, give Guest a smile, look inviting, but don’t shout hello from the across the lobby). So they needed me to teach the staff how to give good customer service and to be more approachable; I could tell that the guests felt awkward passing the desk.

5.) Teach them English… The English level in hotels in China is decreasing. This is because there’s so much supply of positions, and not enough qualified personnel to choose from. The hotels hire anyone with decent English scores but conduct the interview in Chinese so they don’t actually know how the speaking capacity of many new hires. Also in Asia schooling is based on memorization not application. For example many agents could write English beautifully, but, could not pronounce what they wrote. Hence, when a western guest walked past, I actually saw a agent put their head down hoping the guest wouldn’t see them…?


On my first day I noticed easily what the department struggled with. I realized what they needed from me and I felt that I could easily provide.

Win-win situation since I had the skills to provide, minus the English teaching. I don’t have anything against it, but I don’t have the patience to be a teacher and have never done it. I’ve spent years convincing people in China just because a western person speaks English doesn’t qualify them to teach it and that was definitely my case. But I was certainly going to try my best.

My advice is that although I ended up in a pretty good situation, however, if you’re going to China, find out your job description first! What they need from you, and what they expect from you before you arrive. Again, contracts and negotiated terms are stretched and there are many gray areas; It’s not unheard of for expatriate workers to be given extra responsibilities outside of their normal duties while in China, and you will be persuaded quite convincingly to agreeing to help; then it becomes your responsibilities forever! Just make sure you’re aware what you’re getting into, I was not fully aware, but again, it worked out for me.

All in all I quite enjoyed my first day, it was spontaneous, interesting, I love to fix things, and I was back in China baby!

Thanks for stopping by, and see you in the next article.


Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper


Club Modu Shanghai!!!

Welcome hoteliers!

When I left the hotel and hopped in the taxi, I told the driver the address and the driver looked at me puzzled and asked me am I sure of the address.


It was my first real job in China but I have been in Shanghai for 2 years as a student so if he thought he was gonna rip me off and take a side road…. not gonna happen bro!

Now my friend was a fellow classmate from home, we were in the same classes for about 2 years and he loved Europe, I convinced him to go study in China and I’d meet him there, I didn’t think it’d actually come true.

So my friend was sitting in a VIP sofa with bottles on deck, a security guard, and a server. My friend knew how to party, was African American, tall, slim, light skinned, and knew how to get the ladies, not that I had any problems, but, my friend had mastered the game.

“Uh bro, where’d this table come from? You ballin’ out of control?”

“Nah, the owner gave it to me. We met before and he thinks we could do business together.”


My friend knew how to network, he always knew everyone anyway. He had worked in clubs before so he knew how to get drinks. It’s because of him that Modu became my main club, and I always received a VIP table, free drinks, knew the management, and got a black card that I never used.

So we partied hard, the GM of the club was too busy to meet me but his assistant came to take a shot on his behalf. And we exchanged contacts as well.

The club was so elaborate, again, I lived in Shanghai so I know how the clubs are, but this one was very well put together. Not too glitzy like M2 or too local like Maya, it had a good feel and mix of local and international.

Modu Shanghai


What was incredible was the security escort we received whenever we went anywhere. I intend to be rich, I intend to party hard, and I’m only 25, I intend to do a lot of things in my life, but security like I’m a celebrity?

That’s a bit much, they even went into the bathroom with me to make sure no “adoring fans” disturbed me while handling business, and, pre-heated the hand dryer so it was hot after I washed my hands…

After my friend and I finished 2 bottles of Jack Daniels, and turned away some girls and other dudes (my friend doesn’t share with people who we didn’t meet before,) we headed out. I was super jet lagged, just wanted to chill, not dance much, and not meet anyone. So I just went home but not before being surprised that the club told me the 2 bottles of Vodka AK47 and the champagne we didn’t drink would be available for me next time I came. All I need to do is tell the boss what time I’m coming, how many people, and what I was bringing, and what I wanted to drink. (I knew this wasn’t going to come for free but that’s a story for later.)

Vodka AK47! :O

I had to get some rest because according to FYU, I was working tomorrow at 7am and it was already 3am… Yolo!

I definitely enjoy to party hard, since I work just as hard, but don’t be that westerner that goes crazy in Asian clubs, not a good look. And don’t be stupid like me and get tipsy the night before you start working, come correct lol, although I made it work, definitely not recommended!

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the next article hoteliers.

Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper


HYATT means Hurry Your A%% There Tomorrow!! 

Welcome hoteliers!

Grand Hyatt Shanghai… ah… I remember my first day as clear as it was 3 year’s ago.

oh boy

I remember when the HR at my current Hyatt told me a joke, and this was as recent as 2 months ago but now it makes so much sense. Hyatt, in a joking fashion means Hurry Your A%% There Tomorrow! I mean, isn’t that incredible?

What does Marriott stand for I wonder…

When my papers and visas were all processed, Grand Hyatt Shanghai asked me twice how soon could I arrive.

Well, 4 days after I get my visa I said my goodbyes to friends and family, and I was on my flight back to the Middle Kingdom.

My excitement was real. I figured since one of my college best friends was still in Shanghai, I’d check-in, get a bite to eat, then hit the club. To celebrate being a manager in such a luxury hotel at 22 years old! Get wasted, relax, repeat, and start working in a few days.

Then reality set in, although I did party, my arrival was like this:

“Im here to check in, I’m one of the new big bad assistant front office managers (I didn’t actually say big bad, but my chest was flexed) oh, and I spoke all in Chinese cause ya know, why not right? The Guest Service Manager came to greet me:

“Mr. Cooper, welcome, we’ve all been waiting for you, let the bellman send your bags to the room and I’ll do your tour of the hotel!”


Tour?? I thought with a puzzled look. “What tour? My schedule said that was on Monday” (I arrived on a Thursday night.)

“Oh I see, well I’ll do a tour right now for you. Besides the Front Office Manager wants you to start tomorrow”


“Well sure I guess, I just got off of a 14-hour flight but yeah I’d love a quick tour.” I said with a unconvinced look he definitely picked up on my sarcasm and said… “Great!! We’ll start from the back of house service area then walk through housekeeping, front office, and guest rooms. It should only take an hour!”

I’m pretty sure it was 11pm when I got to the hotel. I didn’t know it then, but the GSM (Guest Service Manager) would actually be my mentor despite being of the same employment level. He had worked for Grand Hyatt Shanghai for 17 Year’s since its opening and was quite content. Although he’s okay with me using his name, I’m gonna use his initials because it’s just too funny… FYU (I’m dead serious).

After the tour ended and I was in my room I showered, refreshed, and rushed out, my friend was already in the club! On my way out, I noticed something absolutely important and this is very profound. I’m a foreigner, a black guy at that, anywhere I go, I’m going to be seen. The fact that I can’t leave the hotel without passing the front desk means… if I’m clubbing, drunk, or bring back company, I’ll be seen… and judged… and how fast did I realize this?

FYU (Guest Service Manager) was waiting in the lobby, doing lobby management, we all had to do minimum 2 hours a day of lobby management.

“Hey DC, (my nickname but I certainly didn’t tell him that, we weren’t cool like that yet) on your way to club? Gonna meet some pretty girls and get drunk yeah ?”


“Nah…. I’m just going to get a quick drink at my friends house.” (I can’t have them thinking I’m a party animal alcoholic foreigner, not that I was, most of the time, I actually carry myself quite well.)

And with that, I was in the elevator from the lobby on the 54th floor back to the ground level. (Grand Hyatt Shanghai is on the 53rd floor to the 87th floor of the Jin Mao tower)

So, yeah, HYATT lives up to it’s name, hurry your a## there tomorrow. They intended me to start ASAP, and who can blame them for that. I did end up clubbing hard, but my advice is, to double check and then, to check again your starting schedules. Often in China, the expectation and excitement to have an international manager is to the point that they want you to work immediately as was in my case. Stress the adjustment period since you’ll be jet-lagged and it’ll be miserable for a few days. Don’t burn yourself out at the most critical time, and definitely don’t club and work the next day!

Next I’ll tell you about the club experience in the next article! Thanks for stopping by hoteliers and see you in the next time!


Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper