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Jan Büttgen: A humble, attentive hotel general manager in Beijing

Working as general manager

Büttgen enjoys food with his guests in the restaurant of his hotel Photo: courtesy of Music Yin

Beijing is becoming increasingly crowded because of the constant influx of people. Many people are complaining about Beijing’s poor traffic conditions, but Büttgen thinks about it just in the opposite way. “I am happy when there is a traffic jam. Do you know why? That means business. I would feel lonely if there were not many cars around me,” he said, with a big grin on his face. When talking about the pollution caused by car emissions, Büttgen mentioned the development of every city needs to take time to go through a certain process, and as you can see it happens in Europe in 21st century too.

Büttgen thinks that the most important thing for a hotel to do is to care about people. “It’s not only that you pay for what I offer to you. Our job is to make our customers happy. Let your heart talk, and then customers will come,” he said. He also cares about the happiness of his staff. He gives his staff total freedom as long as they don’t break the hotel rules. “I fire people only if he or she does something against the rules or other staff.”

Though he is always eager to show his love for others, Büttgen cannot afford to forget the fact that earning profits is the lifeline of a hotel. Facing the increasingly fierce competition in the hotel industry in Beijing, he still holds an optimistic attitude. “Competition is my motivation. If there is no competition, people will become lazy and nothing will improve,” he said. In Büttgen’s opinion, the Chinese people are one of the most hard-working peoples in the world. “There was nothing around here 25 years ago,” he said, pointing out of his window, “But now everything is here. I enjoy being together with hard-working people.”

Büttgen attributed his achievement at work to the caring colleagues, nicely designed facilities and the ideal location of the hotel. But he said he didn’t want his hotel to be the best hotel in the world. “You know, what will happen after being the best? Decline. I always want to make progress.”

Eye on improvement

When asked about his future plans for the development of the hotel, Büttgen took out an old-fashioned cell phone which he bought about 10 years ago and put it beside his new iPhone 5. “You can see how far technology has jumped,” he said, “So will our products. It’s not that we are going to build another 50 floors on top of our current hotel; instead, we will make every effort to make our services faster and more convenient for our customers.”

Büttgen said he doesn’t want to have a hotel of his own. “The most important thing for me is to share, and I can do it in this hotel,” he said. When talking about his next stop if he would ever leave China some day, Büttgen’s reply was simple, “I don’t know.” He said he originally intended to stay in China for two years and then move to another place such as Singapore. “But I’ve found Beijing so interesting and beautiful, and I enjoy working here.”

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