Ted Fang, Tera Capital Founder – Brothers hit jackpot in China hotel sector

Photo by Straits Times (ST) / Ted Fang, founder of Tera Capital, Frontier Group & Tera Sotheby’s

Brothers hit jackpot in China hotel sector
MAY 07, 2013, PUBLISHED AT 10:00 PM

Source: https://www.asiaone.com/brothers-hit-jackpot-china-hotel-sector

  • This article first appeared on 7 May 2013 as adapted from an article written by Esthert, Asia One. All information is subject to change without notice.

Three brothers from Singapore with a flair for the hospitality business have hit the jackpot, thanks to China’s booming middle class discovering the travel bug.

The brothers set up a single Chinese hotel of the all-American Days Inn group in 2004 and have not looked back.

Many of these are still under construction, but Frontier Group, the brothers’ Singapore-based investment firm, has secured either management or franchise contracts with them.

The number of operating hotels would be even higher if not for the group’s stringent quality controls, which have led to a few franchisees being shut down for flouting standards.

This ambitious foray into the hotel sector started when twins and younger half-brother Ted Fang, 46, bought the Days Inn master franchise rights for Greater China in 2003.

Expansion, which was previously done through securing new management and franchise contracts, has been robust. Revenue grew 76 per cent in 2010, a further 33 per cent in 2011 and gained 29 per cent last year.

And the figure is set to climb with the firm expected to add about 40 new hotels a year despite competition from other brands in a similar range, such as Holiday Inn and Mercure.

Most of the additions will be from management and franchising, while the rest will come through its leasing model.

Leasing, which the firm recently embarked on, is a more profitable strategy as the company leases an entire building and runs it as if the hotel was its own as opposed to just collecting management or franchising fees.

“We are already a leading brand in China and because we have so many years of experience and a good management team, we feel that we are ready to go into the leasing model so that we can capture more upside,” said Mr Fang.

Ted Fang in Singapore

But the hospitality sector in China is rapidly changing with more domestic travellers on the back of the middle class’s rising affluence.

This has led to second- and third-tier cities receiving more visitors, which has in turn led to rising demand for mid-range hotels. Room rates are also steadily climbing.

Days Inn China chief executive officer, who has worked at the Shangri-La and Holiday Inn hotels in China, noted that foreigners made up 30 to 40 per cent of its hotel guests at first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

But this falls to about 10 per cent for second-tier cities and dips further, to less than 5 per cent, for third-tier ones.

In 2001, for instance, there were only about three hotels along Sanya Bay in Hainan Province, Mr Tan recounted. But there are about 20 now, highlighting the tremendous changes that have been happening in the sector as locals pack their bags and travel across the country.

“China travellers are under-travelled so there is still a lot of opportunities for business and leisure travel. I see a lot of potential in leisure travel, especially to resorts, as there are so many interesting places unexplored,” Mr Fang added.

The business also seems to be sitting in a comfortable spot, where economic cycles do not matter as much.

“Our niche market is good because when times are good, the two-star travellers want to upgrade and give themselves a treat to a three-star hotel. When times are bad, the five-star travellers want to save some money and move down to a four-star hotel,” said Days Inn China chief executive officer.

That means the firm’s business is buffered and always has movement coming into its market to compensate for any loss, he said.

There are challenges though, including having to cope with competition and needing to train hotel staff from scratch in smaller cities, where few people have the industry experience and necessary expertise.

The company employs about 45 people at its corporate offices in Beijing and Shanghai and has about 10,000 staff running its hotels in China. It also has plans to list on a suitable stock exchange, possibly in two years when the “right time” comes.

Days Inn is owned by United States-based Wyndham Hotel Group, part of Wyndham Worldwide.


Ted Fang / MBS / Singapore


Ted Fang spent almost two decades in in Shanghai and Beijing, China.

Ted Fang was a competitive Singapore national squash player who participated in the British Squash Junior Open and the Malaysian Squash Junior Open championship.

Also featured on:

Ted Fang is the founder of Tera Capital, Tera Sotheby’s, Tera Partners & co founder of Frontier Group.

*This post is taken from the archives in 2019.

Ted Fang, Tera Capital Founder – The Peak Interview: Race To The Top

The Peak / 1 April 2014 / Francis Kan / Ted Fang, founder of Tera Capital, Tera Sotheby’s, Tera Partners & Frontier Group

The Peak Interview: Race To The Top
*Article dated 1 April 2014 / Francis Kan

Source: https://www.thepeakmagazine.com.sg/interviews/race-to-the-top/

  • This article first appeared on 1 April 2014 as adapted from an article written by Francis Kan, The Peak Magazine. All information is subject to change without notice.

Hotelier Ted Fang has built up one of the fastest-growing hotel businesses in China, but there’s no looking back for the entrepreneur who can’t seem to slow down.

TED FANG IS A MAN IN A HURRY. More to the point, he’s a businessman who is acutely aware that the time he has on this earth to achieve something of significance is finite.

This existential streak underpins almost everything the entrepreneur does, from his punishing work schedule to the improbably lofty goals he has set for the hotel business he and his two half brothers founded just over a decade ago.

It explains why their Beijing-based Frontier Group, which holds the master franchise for the American hotel chain Days Inn for Greater China, is the fastest-growing mid-tier hospitality chain on the mainland. From just one Days Inn property in 2004, the chain has grown to around 150 today.

Yet, this number is far from the 1,000 hotels that Fang wants to open over the next decade. It is not a target born of hubris but, rather, his belief in the power of the Chinese consumer and a hyper- accelerated timetable for success he has set for himself.

“I’ve always wanted to do exciting things, and you have only so much time in life. I could have picked anything to do in life, but I picked an area where I can grow as fast and as big as possible,” says the Beijing-based hotelier, 47, who oversees the strategic direction of the group as its president and, soon, its executive chairman. He describes his role in the company as the guy who invests and finds the money. Not surprisingly, he is also the “more ambitious and pushy one” among his brothers, he admits.

Fang’s need for speed was apparent early on in his career, when the pace of his first job at an oil-trading operations company failed to feed his already-burgeoning ambition. It was the ’90s, and for anyone who wanted to grow an enterprise in double quick time, there was only one way to do it: Enter technology.

He left oil trading to start his own software company but soon found it too difficult to attract the talent needed to expand it significantly. “In 2000, I went to Silicon Valley and met many very smart people, and realised we were no match for them. They had talent, a huge market, forward-looking investors with an appetite for risk, and a stock market that can let companies list even without profit. You need talent who want to work with you to create something massive and interesting,” he explains.

Fortunately, a bigger opportunity soon came knocking, one that would tick all the right boxes. In 2002, his brother, who had spent over 25 years in the hospitality business in China – including a decade-long stint with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts – asked if he would be interested in launching a three- to four-star chain of hotels on the mainland, a segment he felt was sorely underserved.

Together with a group of ex-Shangri-La employees, they launched Days Inn in China way before anyone was interested in the mid-tier segment, a move that allowed them to expand with little competition. But being ahead of your time can be a painful process and, for the first six years, Fang says the business “suffered like hell”.

“We were nobody, apart from having people with experience. We had to do a lot of work going out there to talk to people, to get them to believe in our company and product,” he recalls.

They were eventually rewarded for their perseverance as the fast- growing Chinese economy and improving transport networks brought a wave of demand from an emerging middle class flush with cash. Waiting for them in cities across the mainland were scores of Days Inn properties offering them a level of comfort and service they had not previously experienced.

The brand is now the second-biggest player in its segment, and he thinks there is a “good chance” it will become the market leader in the coming years. Despite the group’s success, Fang has no desire to move into the more glamorous premium end of the market.

For him, it’s a simple case of mathematics. The industry’s growth – and his company’s profits – is to be found in the vast middle ground of Chinese travellers, rather than the crowded luxury market.

And that’s unlikely to change as the Chinese government cracks down on ostentatious spending by officials, even as it reorients its economy towards domestic consumption and away from exports. Essentially, this will lead to more spending overall, but with more of that going to affordable options, such as a Days Inn room.

“Because of the austerity measures, many government officials are not allowed to dine at five-star hotels and that plays into my hands. But the bigger story is that many middle-class Chinese have become affluent, and can afford to stay at a three- or four-star hotel,”
he says.

“I’m not concerned with any economic slowdown. My business is the Zara of the hotel business, we want things to be up-to-date, nice- looking and comfortable, but not expensive,” he adds.

The challenge going forward is to find enough talent to fill their expanding franchise. While there is no shortage of Chinese wanting to join the service sector in order to ride the consumption boom, many will need to be properly trained.


While Fang has so far shunned the luxury end of the market, he is looking for something beyond the utility and convenience of a brand like Days Inn. He describes his next venture as a design-centric brand, yet one that is not typical of the design hotels that have sprouted across the globe in recent years.

Right now, he is looking to open a handful of these hotels in key cities in China, and the group is in the midst of negotiations to secure a location in Shanghai on the Bund.

This project is one that feeds his passion for interior design, one of the few indulgences he allows himself amid a work schedule of constant travel and meetings. For the new brand, Fang is looking for something contemporary and modern, something akin to a stripped- down W Hotel.

“I want something clean and functional but not Zen. I firmly believe that there is a huge market for a simplified W Hotel. A lot of the details at a W Hotel would increase the cost a great deal. I’m targeting guests who appreciate a nice-looking hotel but with more interesting room rates. I wouldn’t call it luxury or boutique,” he says.

The design of the rooms would also cater specifically to the Internet-savvy business traveller, with free Wi-Fi a given, and the placement of ports and power points configured to make “a tech- savvy guy feel at home”.


With so much to do, there is so little downtime for a man constantly on the move. Even a holiday abroad becomes a work trip, as friends talk shop every time they enter a hotel. Instead, his idea of unwinding involves flipping design and architectural magazines at bedtime.

Ted Fang, who is single, describes himself as “super disorganised”, perhaps as a result of having too much on his plate. “I’m a complete right-brain person. I’m shocked that I can’t even organise simple things,” he says. To cope, he has a few assistants helping him sort out the jumble of details, schedules and to-do lists that make up his workweek.

Which is just as well for a person who shows no sign of letting up, until he hits the improbably high targets he has set himself amid a very tight deadline. Yet, that could well be the quality necessary to thrive in a market that moves and changes as quickly as that of China.

Nor is he confining his ambitions to hospitality. But, with so much more to do in that area, even the hardworking Fang cannot yet find the time to explore other ventures. Which might explain his rush; there is much more to accomplish in the time allotted to him. “There isn’t much time to accomplish what I want to accomplish. It’s hard for me to take my mind off work. To sit and not think about it is tough.”


Ted Fang is a consultant and advisor based in Singapore with past business interest in China (2003 to 2021). He is the founder and former director of Tera Capital, Tera Partners & Tera Realty (Tera Sotheby’s Realty). Fang is also the co-founder of Frontier Group, whom he founded with his two brothers. Together they acquired the Days Inn master franchise for Greater China from Wyndham Worldwide in 2003. In 2018, Fang acquired the Sotheby’s Realty franchise for the Greater Shanghai markets. He was active in these companies from 2003 to 2021.

Interviews and Wiki pages on Ted Fang are found on various online platforms such as Linkedin, The Star Malaysia, Medium, Reddit, Prestige Online, The Peak Magazine, Terrapin, Pinterest, Millionaire Asia & CNN, Everybody Wiki, Golden Wiki, Prabook & Peoplepill.

Ted Fang spent almost two decades in China particularly in Shanghai and Beijing.

Ted Fang was a competitive Singapore national squash player who participated in the British Squash Junior Open and the Malaysian Squash Junior Open championship.

This information is sponsored by Bridgepath.

*This post is taken from the archives in 2019.