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Hospitality Sector Seeks to Cut Costs but Maintain High Quality

Hotels across the mainland are facing the challenges of reduced margins and ever more critical and quality conscious consumers. Addressing these needs was front of house at this year's Guangdong International Hospitality Supplies Fair.

Photo: A little deer: High-end tableware on show.
A little deer: High-end tableware on show.
Photo: A little deer: High-end tableware on show.
A little deer: High-end tableware on show.

With staff costs rising and guests becoming ever more demanding, hotel managers are seeking both higher quality products for front-of-house use, while also keen to promote labour saving efficiency behind the scenes. Such concerns were clearly apparent at the 13th China (Guangdong) International Hospitality Supplies Fair, as was a growing commitment to using only products with the appropriate environmental credentials. One thing above all, however, was clear – saving money, without necessarily compromising on quality is the primary concern in a sector increasingly under scrutiny from customers expecting more for less.

In other developments, disposable products proved increasingly popular, largely thanks to a combination of higher consumer trust and reduced washing bills. Overall, energy efficiency and ease of use were the key selling points for both plant and equipment.

Disposable Products

According to industry statistics, China's hotel-room supplies market will be worth Rmb400 billion in 2015, with such products used in enormous volumes by both star-grade hotels and hotel chains. These products include large cap-ex items, such as beds, tables and chairs, as well as small consumables, such six-piece bathroom packs of tooth paste, tooth brushes, slippers, comb, shower gel and shampoo.

Photo: Durable and good quality: Hospitality crockery.
Durable and good quality: Hospitality crockery.
Photo: Durable and good quality: Hospitality crockery.
Durable and good quality: Hospitality crockery.

Previously, a number of leading mainland hotel chains were found to have compromised in terms of quality and hygiene, with practices such as cleaning toilet bowls with shower towels frequently coming to light. Moreover, there have also been concerns over the low quality of the disposable toiletries used by many hotels. This, in turn, has triggered heightened consumer scrutiny of hotel hygiene, as well as more frequent evaluation of the quality of hospitality supplies. Both of these developments had clearly had an impact on a number of exhibitors at the event.

One company attracting considerable buyer attention at the fair was Bao'ou, which was in Guangdong to promote its range of one-use washcloths and shower towels. Originating from Thailand, the Bao'ou brand first entered the mainland market in 2002.

According to Xu Xinming, the company's Manager, its products are targeted mainly at hotel chains. Given concerns that the traditional washcloths and shower towels used in hotels may be unhygienic and prone to cross contamination, Bao'ou is specialises in towels for one-off use.

Xu said that 60% of its products are exported to the US and Southeast Asia. The company's proprietary one-off washcloths and shower towels are made from plant fibres and are said to be five times more absorbent than traditional towels. Any used towels can be disposed of as biodegradable waste, in line with environmental protection requirements. This results in considerable savings on a hotel's cleaning costs, while also providing customers with hygienic and inexpensive towels. Many hair salons are also said to be trialling these one-use towels.

Photo: Innovation in kitchen and tableware.
Innovation in kitchen and tableware.
Photo: Innovation in kitchen and tableware.
Innovation in kitchen and tableware.

Another exhibitor, Jinxiangyu, a Jiangsu-based textiles company, manufactures a range of products, including washcloths, shower towels, children's sleeping bags, towels, bath mats, baby blankets, and towel gift sets. It also supplies the Waldorf group with bathrobes, with the whole of its range having passed quality tests in Europe and the US.

Company Manger, Yin Huanyu, said it is able to tailor-make all styles of textile products according to customers' specifications. With competition fierce, he says this is forcing producers to deliver high quality washcloths and bath towels at bargain prices.

Labour-saving Equipment

Ecomax Dishwasher (China) Co Ltd, headquartered in the US, develops, manufactures and sells dishwashers for the catering industry. According to the company, its dishwashers come equipped with strong washing and disinfection functions. They are also of a relatively compact size, while said to offer easy operation and maintenance.

Qin Siyuan, Ecomax's South China Sales Director, said the company's biggest competitive advantage lies in the energy-saving function of its dishwashers, as well as their role in reducing labour costs and breakages. Some two-thirds of the water used in the machines is said to be recyclable, further cutting down on water usage. The units' ‘complete spraying system' ensures the washing pump only operates after the dish rack has reached the washing zone, notably improving on energy conservation.

Photo: Ecomax’s labour-saving dishwasher.
Ecomax's labour-saving dishwasher.
Photo: Ecomax’s labour-saving dishwasher.
Ecomax's labour-saving dishwasher.

Wang Jian, Sales Director for Ecomax, said market demands are constantly changing, while customer requirements are continuously rising. Compared with its industry peers, Ecomax's products are said to be highly reliable, complying with the NSF 3600 HUE standard. In addition, the company also provides training, follow-up visits and aftercare support.

According to Wang, the company's products are designed with modularity very much in mind, a concept that offers customers greater flexibility, taking into account available space, usage volumes and quantities of tableware, as well as electricity consumption, water supply and drainage capacity.

Ecomax targets not only hotels and the catering chains, but also a number of other sectors. According to Wang, the company's dishwashing facilities have been used in the canteens of several large companies, often serving thousands of employees. Using the company's products allows them to centralise the washing process and cut down the labour, water and electricity costs. The equipment has been used for a variety of purposes, including cleaning containers, bearings and even 3D cinema glasses.

Photo: LvTong electric vehicles on show.
LvTong electric vehicles on show.
Photo: LvTong electric vehicles on show.
LvTong electric vehicles on show.

One Taiwanese company, Teemyeah Food Machinery, was showcasing a series of its self-developed cleaning and cutting facilities at the fair. Its Guangzhou office was set up in 2003, and the company currently operates factories in Taichung in Taiwan and Longgang in Shenzhen. Its products are currently distributed to more than 30 countries and regions around the world.

Chao Shunwei, Deputy General Manager of Teemyeah's Guangzhou operation, said the company's machines are mainly used for the initial washing and cutting of vegetables and meat. Its highly automated facilities allow for hundreds of kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables to be washed every hour.

Quality Counts

Looking more upmarket and Guangzhou Hotel Tableware Suppliers focuses solely on star-grade hotels. Cai Kanfang, its Head of Hotel Projects, said the company mainly distributes tableware products from Germany and Italy, serving mostly international hotels.

In order to the high quality of its products, the company set up a testing zone at its exhibition booth. This featured a variety of items being put through their paces, including a wine glass being hit with a hammer. Impressively, despite the loud impact, the wine glass remained intact. The wine glass was said to be made of a special, sturdy material, giving it both a crystal clear look and a high level of durability.

Photo: Destruction testing: Wine glass durability on show.
Destruction testing: Wine glass durability on show.
Photo: Destruction testing: Wine glass durability on show.
Destruction testing: Wine glass durability on show.
Photo: Novelty hotel beds from Yuwei.
Novelty hotel beds from Yuwei.
Photo: Novelty hotel beds from Yuwei.
Novelty hotel beds from Yuwei.

The company also distributes the Legle range of crystal glasses. These wine glasses are said to be made of remarkably pure glass, 100% free from lead and barium.

The fair also saw the Guanghaida Group of Guangdong showcasing its high-end bath mats, all made from original natural rubber. The mats are ultraviolet resistant, shockproof, anti-slip and highly elastic. Another popular exhibitor was Shenzhen-based Lefor, from Shenzhen, which had on show a wide variety of bamboo and rattan towel baskets. Fellow Shenzhen business, Yuwei, a specialist glass furniture company, was also in town to highlight its hotels and clubhouse range.

The 13th China (Guangdong) International Hospitality Supplies Fair took place at the China Import & Export Fair Complex Exhibition Hall A from 10-12 September. Some 4,000 exhibitors packed the 600,000 square metre venue, showcasing their wares to more than 150,000 visitors.

Jian Wei, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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