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!
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!
The last article was a bit long, kudos if you read the whole thing, if you’re thinking of working in a hotel in China, I sure hope you read the whole thing, it has a lot of insight I think and overall, if I knew then what I know now, I would have fought to get a better deal, at least on the plane ticket. 😉
So in this article, I’m going to jump straight into the different salaries that front office staff would receive and of course there’s a disclaimer.
These salaries are the “average” for Shanghai only and for international luxury hotels. If you want to scale it, without major research, it’s about the same as Beijing, and if you are looking at other cities subtract around 1-1,500RMB off the top for level 4-7; again, these are just premature estimations not random salary pulls a lot can vary. Also I did get permission from former staff & friends regarding sharing this information so what’s below are their numbers which do not reflect everyone’s earning potential; it only serves as a potential threshold. Also note that the F&B Benefit refers to eating inside the hotel, ordering from room service etc., relocation refers to just getting your plane ticket purchased on your behalf, transportation etc.
(RMB – USD figures always change daily, so check the numbers daily if need be, as of the posting of this article, this is where the exchange rate has my numbers listed as!)
Director of Rooms
Front Office Manager
Assistant Front Office Manager
Duty Manager (me at the time)
4,000rmb ($606 (me)
4,000rmb ($606 (me)
Front Desk Agent/Guest Service
2,500rmb ($379) (interns)
Hotel or staff housing
I hope this list is interesting, let me say it again, the salaries are based off my friends and former staff including GM acquaintances that were comfortable sharing their package details to help me make this list and comfortable with me listing it here; as you can see it also includes my own package details at the time. J
Final notes to list the difference in my package between my local Duty Manager colleagues & some general information:
The salary that other Duty Managers inside my hotel were receiving was around 1,000rmb ($151 approx.) less than mine, did not receive any meal or housing benefits either.
Aside from what was listed, I pushed and got laundry allowance as well but few people cared about it, I just wanted to make sure I could get whatever benefits they were willing to give me.
The information listed for expat Duty Manager Salary, was from one of my friends it’s very rare to receive an expat package for that position.
Guest Service/Relations Managers are at the same level as a Duty manager.
Speaking some level of Chinese helps your bargaining power for grabbing a better package.
*Can of worms* the reason even if most expats are given a local package, it’s still higher than a true local is because of lifestyle. For a Chinese landlord to rent to an expat, they have to pay a tax so you won’t find housing as cheap as most locals, for example my 1-bed apartment was 4,500rmb/$682 a month, decent location and the best value. My friend who was Chinese had multiple options for 1-bedroom places in similarly good locations for 2,800rmb/$424 a month! A lot of places will say they are unable to rent to expats meaning they didn’t register for it, don’t have the tax system in place, and don’t have the “fapiao (official receipt, later articles just on this)” capabilities either.
My advice, again, reflect on what kind of lifestyle you want and see if the package details if offered a position is acceptable to you. Whilst making this list I had asked a substantial amount of friends to get a salary basis, so that anyone down the line can compare their offer to some average numbers above and see how their package standards. Happy hunting, good luck, and always feel free to ask any questions
Thank you so much for stopping by and see you next time!
When I graduated college I worked for half a year in a temporary front office position at the Staybridge Inn & Suites in Times Square, NYC. Sounds nice right? Well, it wasn’t all that bad, except I wanted a life-style change. Now I know what you’re thinking… what recent graduate is talking about life-style change when we’re just beginning well, I had been to China a few times to study abroad and I just felt I wanted a more international life-style and New York isn’t where I’m meant to be at that time.
So I wanted to work as a front desk agent in China, which you’ll find out why that was lunacy and near impossible, and I had very little luck finding anything; actually let’s tell the truth, I applied to over 300+ internationally branded hotels in many cities for a front desk agent and never got a reply.
Now I’m a firm believer in this belief that I have; actually I’m going to make it a “Cooper quote, from here on out, officially a thing in this blog. #cooperquote
“The internet doesn’t hire people, people hire people” – Daniel Cooper #cooperquote
What I mean is that from then on, I stopped applying online for hotel jobs; I needed to find the person who would hire me, or, could influence my application and reach out to them directly. In most hotels the General Manager is the highest position which led me to my next revelation… (Don’t get upset with me HR people)
“If I apply online I’m at the bottom of the barrel, if I can send a nice email to the GM or my department manager and have them forward it, I’ll be at the top of the barrel and likely to get a response” – Daniel Cooper #cooperknowledge
***I promise not to sugarcoat anything in this blog just, FYI***
When I got my first interview using my new method, new to me anyway, because again, the internet never contained this information, maybe because it’s a crazy method, but I had no idea how to do it, so I made my own way; anyway I was contacted by the HR at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Shanghai for a position of a Duty Manager and the interviews were conducted on Skype.
Most of the time, the hotel will either call you (they can call internationally obviously) but more commonly will Skype you for two reasons. One, you’re not in China, and two, they want to see what you look like; looks are a thing in Asia and influence your hiring prospects, anyone who says otherwise is sugarcoating in fact, you need to include your picture in your CV which is basically your resume.
The first interview is with the HR manager or director, hiring an expatriate is a big deal abroad, so the big wigs have to interview you of course, second interview was with the director of the department, and final interview is with the General Manager or Hotel Manager.
After you pass the interviews and get an offer, congrats, you have to produce a ton of documents such as your college degree, former employment letters providing proof you worked where you said you did since they’re not going to call your past properties, a copy of your passport, criminal background check (don’t be a crook) and in 1-2 months your letters will be in the mail to go get yourself a work visa and head to China!
That’s the how anyway, now, why did it work out for me?
To be honest with you guys and everyone has a different experience, also, I’m African American, which will be a whole other story, but it does give you additional obstacles but other opportunities as well, I got the job because I had something they needed and they had something I wanted.
In simpler terms, they were using me and I was using them.
I did take a pay cut, which you shouldn’t have to, maybe the gross salary isn’t as high, but there are many perks, which I’ll discuss in another article. I was paid around $1,200 a month, base salary in Shanghai which can be just as expensive as NYC and had $800 as housing allowance which means I pay first and they reimburse me. To scale it even more, the position that I had, equivalent in NYC would be making around $2500 a month after tax, but the standard of living was similar, until you learn to live like a local.
They hired me because I spoke Chinese, accepted a lower salary, was a native English speaker, and was from NYC so I knew how to handle crazy oversold situations; also I could wear 3 hats at once, and teach free English to the staff, so for them total win.
For me, although I knew I was getting low-balled and I had other offers, the decision was like this:
Hotel Indigo Shanghai: Management Trainee position
Le Méridien Hotel Qingdao: (different city, beautiful city!) Management Trainee
Holiday Inn Weihai (also a different city): Management Trainee
Grand Hyatt Shanghai: Duty Manager!
So I could be an intern, or jump into management “oh boy my first management position!”
I accepted the Grand Hyatt offer; also I knew that I wasn’t in the greatest position to haggle or get into management in NYC, so I knew if I took this position, I could move up and gain more China experience which will further my career there and at home.
So I got my papers in the mail, booked the cheapest economy ticket, a one-way ticket 🙂 and I was in China to start my new job and new life!
My advice is when it comes to China, just as back home; persistence in job hunting is a must. However you also need thick skin, there is some prejudice about how you look, which country or city you’re from, which school you attended etc. If possible, learn some Chinese, it will boost your prospects greatly, and finally, unless you receive an “expatriate” salary package, which I will discuss later, brace yourself to live a more frugal life with a pay cut. It was okay for me because of the title, position offered, and the experience I would gain, make sure you’re okay with it before you accept!
My name is Daniel and let me guess your first question. What is the “wuxingji” in wuxingjiexperience?
Wuxingji (五星级) means 5 stars, so, 5 star experience… catchy huh?
And yeah as you can guess, I speak Chinese, and yeah I’m African American.
Now that we got that out of the way, what is this blog all about? Well… and bear with me here, I work in hotels + I love the industry and a lot of people ask me what it was like working in hotels in China. Also, there’s the “what’s it like being black in China?” What’s it like being black working in hotels? What’s it like being a black foreigner working in hotels in China and so much more. So I want to share some awesome, crazy, adventurous, insider, borderline whistle-blowing stories of my experiences over there.
It’s also my hope that this blog can also give some insight to people wanting to get some information about how to work in hotels in Asia since there’s a lack of information online. Lets get started!
I’m going to make this fast and brief~
I started working in hotels when I was finishing high school and on my way to college. I applied to every job listed online since I was 17 and had such a hard time getting in.
I’m from New York by the way, however the competition is vicious, but I was eventually able to get a job at the front desk at a Holiday Inn in New Jersey. Afterwards I worked at a Days Inn & Suites hotel in Delaware while going to college full time and studied in China each fall semester; I built the Chinese program at my university but that’s an article for another time. After college I worked for a Staybridge Inn & Suites in Times Square NYC (finally got into NYC hotels despite being from there sheesh!) But it didn’t last long;
I secured myself a position as a Duty Manager in Shanghai, China at the Grand Hyatt hotel. From there I went to work for a pre-opening Fairmont hotel in Chengdu, China (panda city) had a brief stint in South Korea, and now I’m back in NY again. Brief right? I tried to make it quick. 🙂
I’ve been fortunate to get many interesting opportunities within the hotel industry and in China; the best thing is, my journey is just beginning, but I wanted to share just the incredible experiences I’ve had working, partying & dating overseas and why I’m intending on going back. So grab a beer, make a sandwich and make sure to binge read because I’m sure my stories with entertain and thank you for stopping by!
P.S. my articles will always end with “best regards” and a little advice from me to you~ #hotelier4life.