Garrett and I flew into Dalian today from Beijing. The flight was no problem as everything was both written and spoken in English. The small amount of warm Sprite in a small paper cup was the only unsurprising detail.
When we entered the 21st Century Hotel, I was struck by how elegant it was, much more so than I was expecting. The staff was very courteous and helpful and my room turned out to be quite nice. I was surprised that it was not in as rural of a location as I expected; it is well within the city limits. Since all of these were unexpected aspects; I’m doubting our ability to develop a presentable pricing strategy for the hotel!
Dalian is a very interested city. I was once occupied by Russia and then by Japan before going back under control of mainland China during the revolution. The city itself is about 100 years old, which is very young for a Chinese city. After a tour of some of the area, it struck me that Dalian was lacking the urban heartbeat present in most other large cities. The downtown area had many impressive skyscrapers, one of which we were able to tour. However, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of culture or history and no strong draw to or character to the downtown area. Of course, this is just my first impression and it could very well change.
We visited what would be considered a small grocery store in the US. It was packed full of workers, with 2 or 3 in every aisle to help customers with purchases. I was leaving the store and looked back to see at least 20 workers standing around the store waiting for customers. I couldn’t believe the high level of employment. I then noticed the same was true at the hotel, with 3 people helping bring luggage to my room. This level of service would be unprecedented in the US. It makes the economic background of China very apparent and highlights the importance that our pricing recommendations take into account local cultural issues, such as the employment rate.
The group had dinner with Daniel Yu in the evening. The food was excellent and the conversation was even better. Daniel is a very entertaining and gracious host and I hope that we get to meet again in the future.