Some hotels offer 5-star hospitality. But there are hotels that strive to offer 6-star service. Dallas-based Archon Group, which manages 12 hotels in Japan, aims for nothing less than 6 stars. A Goldman Sachs company, Archon Hospitality KK manages such hotels in Japan as ANA Hotel Kushiro, Hotel Universal Port, Hotel Nikko Narita, Oriental Hotel Tokyo Bay, Kawasaki Nikko Hotel and Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, among others.
Established in 2003, Archon provides strategic customized support for each of its hotel brands. By taking over a hotel, Archon increases the value of the hotel’s assets and range of services to improve operation and management quality. Archon’s 6-star hospitality concept revolves around six key attributes of its staff – conscientious, flexible, team player, creative, passionate and reliable.
One of the company’s key players is Hiromi Yamaguchi, who joined Archon in July 2007 as director of operations. Yamaguchi started his career in 1977 at Tokyu Hotels International (now Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts) building extensive experience in the finance, sales, operations and development divisions of various hotels. Over the years he has held several senior finance positions, including, from 2005, director of finance at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.
Japan Today editor Chris Betros visits Yamaguchi at the Archon offices in Roppongi Hills to hear more.
How are you coping with the recession?
In terms of profitability, 2009 was better than in 2008, but it was a tough year for the industry, not just us, and we predict the same for this year. We have to focus on how to develop the business but at the same time maintain profitability by increasing the occupancy rate.
What is your strategy for doing that?
Since the business trade has been hard hit by the recession and by the new flu epidemic last year, we need to attract more leisure guests on weekdays as well as on weekends. And the way to do that is by offering value-added products, such as ladies’ stay plans with eco-friendly amenities, concept floors for mothers with small children, cocktail classes, cooking classes with English-speaking, offering special rates for students and their families and so on.
What is Archon’s brand message?
First of all, we are not trying to sell the name Archon; rather we sell the name of each property. Overall, Archon’s philosophy is to provide six-star hospitality through the efforts of our staff; that is, by being conscientious, flexible, team players, creative, passionate and reliable.
How many hotels does Archon currently manage?
Twelve. ANA Hotel Kushiro, Hotel Nikko Chitose, Hotel Nikko Narita, Oriental Hotel Tokyo Bay, Kawasaki Nikko Hotel, Namba Oriental Hotel, Kanku Hineno Station Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, Oriental Hotel Hiroshima, Hotel Centraza Hakata and Hotel Nikko Alivila.
Are online reservations increasing?
Yes, the website business has increased significantly in Japan. Unfortunately, not all of the hotels we operate have English websites, but we are working on that for the future.
How do you market the various hotels?
Archon has its own sales team for group hotels covering both travel agencies and corporate customers in the Kanto markets. We also support them in PR and marketing, but each hotel has a different advertising and marketing strategy, depending on their location (near an airport or Tokyo Disneyland, for example).
How often do you visit the 12 properties?
I am directly in charge of two hotels -- one in Kobe and one at Universal Studios Japan, so I visit those two every month. I try to visit the other hotels on a quarterly basis.
How often do you bring all the general managers together for a meeting?
Twice a year. It is a good way for everyone to share their experiences and concerns and plan strategy.
I hear you held a trade show last October. How was that?
Yes, we did that for the first time. There were 74 attendees from travel agencies and planning companies. All the hotel sales teams were there, too. We are planning to make it an annual event.
For further information, visit www.archonhospitalityasia.com© Japan Today