“We didn’t want to work with the new hires in a traditional way. We wanted to make it more fun,” says Rachel Chan, general manager of human resources. “We made Starwood booths—a dozen—each with a different topic. We made the lessons into games that they could play, with prizes. It was the first time we had ever done anything like this. It was more interactive and fun for everybody.”
That was followed by a two-week simulation during which the Sheraton invited 10,000 guests to check in and out, testing everything from the valet parking to housekeeping and room service.
“With hotels, of any size, it’s all about processes. For instance, how many minutes does it take to check in a guest? With so many rooms, that’s a critical question,” says Josef Dolp, Sheraton’s managing director in Macau, who likens the hotel’s logistics to those of a military operation. “We just have to facilitate every process in an organized way.”
Designated counters are designed to expedite check-in. Guests traveling as a group are whisked to a separate check-in area, as are loyalty-program members. In all, there are 61 counters ushering in thousands of guests each week. And should you be stuck in line for a few minutes, regular performances in the lobby provide a diversion. During my visit, the entertainment consisted up a troop of Polynesian dancers in grass skirts and coconut bras.
It’s what you don’t see, however, that keeps things ticking along. All information about regular Starwood guests is entered into the computer system, so if you previously took a yoga class at Sheraton Hawaii or Hong Kong, for example, yoga mats will be waiting for you in your room. Or you could just fine-tune your asanas at the Sheraton’s sprawling fitness center. Just don’t expect to be working out alone: the hotel expects guests to log around 12,000 kilometers on its treadmills each month, which, incidentally, is more than the distance one would cover walking the Great Wall of China.