Friday, 31 December 2010

Just press the Magic Button (Dec 19, 2010)

We're having an amazing time in Beijing, it's an amazing place: tough, futuristic, steeped in history, dynamic and moving inexorably forward on a wave of hard work and industry, determination, and a sense of destiny. This is were the future is at. This is the future. Wake up! Over 1.3 billion people here are wide awake (usually all at the same time because the whole of the country is on Beijing time, or GMT + 8), and we're still dreaming.

Speaking of dreaming. let me tell you about the Magic Button: you press it and all your wishes come true. At least that's what the Hilton's in-room literature claims and guess what? It's absolutely true. These people are amazing. Now, there are 3 Hiltons in Beijing, and I can only vouch for the one we're staying in, the one in Wangfujing. The Magic Button is a key on the phone pad, and if you need anything: fresh towels, a tidy-up of your room, a massage, book a car, or a new pet cat, or whatever else you might fancy, whoever answers the phone will make it happen.

So far so good, the advertising strategist in me figures this is just a good bit of marketing, well implemented by local management. But there is more...

The Hilton Wangfujing has a unique asset called Elvis. Elvis is Chinese, speaks perfect English, has travelled extensively around Europe and is as far as I can tell the closest living thing to Jeeves. His manners, his carriage, his tone are perfect. From the moment Elvis raises an enquiring eyebrow as you amble through reception you know everything will turn out for the best. We're on first name basis ever since Elvis escorted me to the Bank of China for a spot of translating. We wanted to go to the Great Wall unaccompanied by a guide? Elvis made it happen. We wanted to go to The Summer Palace by public transport? Most hotel staff are horrified by the thought of non-Mandarin speaking tourists taking anything other than a comfortable chauffeur driven car or at the very minimum a taxi ordered by the concierge. But not Elvis, he told us which stop to get off at, told us it would be a 5 minute taxi ride from there, and wished us a lovely outing.

Elvis makes you feel that whatever it is you want to do, no matter how strange it may seem, it's all going to be fine.

So Elvis is the ultimate Magic Button. We'd like to bring him home but given that the Hilton charge $2.50 if you want to take home the Hilton purple rubber duck that greets you enticingly in your tub every day, we figured there was no way we'd be able to afford Elvis.

Well done Elvis. Well done Hilton Wangfujing. Just press the Magic Button...

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