By Bradley Haines, Regional Vice President of Asia Pacific, SiteMinder
From the bustling streets of Thailand to the perfectly-rough skiing ranges of Japan and the untouched seashores of the Philippines, Asia offers the world endless treasures of history, culture, tradition and natural wonders. Yet, only in recent years has its richness been elevated to the world stage, as travellers have sought unique experiences outside of what had previously been an industry dominated by Europe and the USA.
It’s a shift surpassed only by the volume of Asian residents travelling outbound, which has put terms such as “Chinese travellers” among movements as significant as mobile and artificial intelligence. Perhaps this has been due, in part, to markets like China, India and Japan leading the world in those trends.
For hotels within the region, the surge in worldwide interest has created opportunity like never before. The question is: are the region’s hoteliers seizing the day?
I’ve been lucky enough to have spent almost a decade of my life in Asia. It’s a part of the world that’s close to me in every way and I’m thankful to organisations like AustCham that have done so much to bring Australia even closer to the region.
Today my home is back in Asia, in the wonderful city of Bangkok where SiteMinder has been operating successfully for more than six years and where we continue to invest in our local people and partners for the greater benefit of our hotel customers.
As I think about the three biggest changes I’ve observed in the make-up of travellers in the last 10 years, they would be:
- The number of expats living in Asia has generally declined as more companies invest in local talent who were educated overseas. This has changed the dynamic of high-end travellers in the region.
- There are now as many Free Independent Travellers as there are travelling groups.
- Asian travellers are abundant, as inter-region travel has increased as much as tourism both inbound and outbound.
The opportunity for hotels
In a world of limitless choice, consumers today are spoilt with offers at every turn, forcing hoteliers to think of new, smarter ways to vie for a guest’s attention and loyalty.
Within Asia, hoteliers have the ability to compete on many levels, including:
- Hospitality – broadly speaking, the level of hospitality and customer service in Asia is outstanding, driven perhaps by the inherent values of respect and family that permeate through the region, as well as the inability to never let a visitor go hungry!
- Pricing – some of the most amazing holidays in Asia can be had at a fairly low cost. While consumers are spoilt with choice, price still plays a role in their decision-making and hoteliers should take note while making sure their pricing reflects the quality of their brand. Berjaya Hotels & Resorts, for example, uses SiteMinder to take control of the increasing disparity between its online room rates.
- Food & Beverage – this one is close to my heart. Local cuisines are worth travelling for and rather than have your guests leave the property to try the food and beverages down the road, why not make them available at your hotel? Partner with the top restaurants and vendors to bring more incremental revenue back to your hotel.
- Mobile – widespread use of mobile devices in Asia has created a world that is hyper-connected and instant. From browsing, booking, communicating, paying, photographing, posting on social media and writing reviews, travellers look to their mobile devices for almost every part of their day. Hoteliers that aren’t investing in their mobile strategy, to reach guests from the initial stage of inspiration, are losing out on business.
- Location – Asia, in itself, serves as a gateway to the world, as does its many destinations. While hotels in countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore do well to capitalise on being located within a transit city, many other cities aren’t taking advantage of those travellers who stay for short periods.
The unpredictable nature of changing regulations, governments, economies, consumer behaviour and booking trends means hoteliers need to be more nimble than ever before. We have seen countries handicapped by travel from other countries suppressing travellers overnight. So, too, have we witnessed the resilience of the hospitality and tourism industry in Asia, and its success depends on its ability to swing with the market trends and to adapt quickly to what are opportunities not only for today but in the long-term.
Bradley Haines, Regional Vice President of Asia Pacific at SiteMinder
From his earlier years working within hotels and restaurants across the Asia Pacific, Bradley Haines’ deep-seeded understanding of the challenges involved with managing a hospitality business have allowed him to become a dependable partner to every hotelier.
Today Bradley calls Bangkok home to lead the dynamic Asia Pacific region for SiteMinder, the global hotel industry’s leading guest acquisition platform. Combining his passion for hospitality and travel with the power of technology, Bradley is responsible for nearly half of SiteMinder’s 35,000 hotel customers around the world and growing partnerships that elevate the region’s hotels to the global stage.