Though his career began in Korea, Josh Cho has spent many years in hospitality in China. Specializing in sales and customer relations, he is now taking a more active role in operations at Xi’an -Marriott Executive Apartments. We sat down with him to discuss the city, the hotel business and his management philosophy.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity]
1. You’ve spent many years in China, including a number of years in Suzhou. What do you find unique about Xi’an?
Before I moved to Xi’an, I had very limited knowledge about the city, but based on my experience during the last 3 years in Xi’an, I realized Xi’an is the place that we can see the past, present and future of China. It sounds like a cliché, but it really is true. Xi’an is the one of the oldest cities in China. I feel very special because I am living in the present but also I feel I am living in the past with many historical assets in town. As Xi’an is the starting point of the Silk Road in the past, but it is still a key place of the One Belt, One Road Initiative, which is the long-term plan proposed by Chinese central government. There are many outstanding colleges and University in Xi’an and I can see many young talents that want to continue to develop their career here as there are also many good companies in various industries, especially in IT, in addition to future opportunities as the city keeps developing very fast. I am so excited and look forward to seeing the bright future of Xi’an!
2. You’ve recently made a switch from Sales and Marketing to Food and Beverage, why the sudden change?
At the very beginning I started to work in the hotel industry as a Front Desk clerk, then I had an opportunity to advance. I always wanted to know why people chose us, and the sales department is always looking for people who think this way, and I always wanted to try this job. It’s challenging, a lot of pressure every day.
[Food and beverage] is very important for salespeople, because if someone wants to become general manager, they must have experience in operations. Sales can be very simple—we meet the customer, we compare to other hotels, and attract business. That’s it. It’s just one part of the hotel, another important part is operations. Without this experience, there are limited opportunities to become general manager. Even if you were to become general manager, without knowledge of this part, it can be very difficult to run the hotel effectively.
3. What’s your favorite aspect of Xi’an – Marriott Executive Apartments?
The Hacker-Pschorr Brauhaus. We have great food and high-quality beer and each night there is a band that performs. It’s a really great place to relax and enjoy a good meal with friends or family.
4. What does your hotel offer that sets it apart from its competitors?
We have many different [room] layouts. Many units have a kitchen, so it’s suitable for long stays and for short stays. And no matter how long you stay, you can expect a comfortable and cozy guest room. Also, Hacker-Pschorr. Many hotels have restaurants, but none in Xi’an have a place like Hacker-Pschorr.
5. Judging by the many awards and commendations you’ve received, you’ve had a long, very successful career in hospitality. Which of those awards are you most proud of?
The awards weren’t just personal—sometimes they recognized a whole team or whole hotel—but I’m really proud of all of them and all the wonderful teams I’ve been a part of. For me though, the greatest award is the simplest: just a letter or a kind word from a customer to show their appreciation is the highest praise I can get. That kind of recognition fills me with pride every day, and can convince me, convince people working in the hotel, that we’ve chosen the right line of work.
6. What are your plans for the hotel under your leadership?
Just like our Marriott core values, I put people first. Especially with a focus on employee satisfaction and employee development. You will always have exceptional team members, but not everyone can be exceptional so you need to have a team mindset so we can all move forward together. I want to build great, motivated teams in key areas such as business performance and customer satisfaction, and if we excel in these areas then a good reputation and success in the marketplace will follow naturally.