Monday, November 16, 2009

Penang hotels wooing business travellers

Move to exploit state’s good potential in business process outsourcing
GEORGE TOWN: Branded hotels along the famed tourist belt in Batu Ferringhi here are aiming for a slice of the corporate travellers market, shedding their image as leisure oriented resorts which cater only to families and holidaymakers in the process.
These hotels include the newly refurbished Golden Sands Resort and the just-opened Hard Rock Hotel.
Opened on Nov 12, the 328-room Eastin Hotel, located at the southern part of the island, will also compete for the corporate market, given its proximity to the Free Industrial Zone, where the multinational corporations (MNCs) are located.
Bruno Cristol ... ‘We are receiving about 2,800 delegates from India in two batches.’
The move to woo corporate clients comes amid Penang’s new reputation as an international business process outsourcing site, as highlighted in the KPMG’s Exploring Global Frontier report.
After spending about RM36mil on refurbishment, Golden Sands Resorts, a member of Shangri-La International Hotels Group, is repositioning itself to capture the corporate as well as MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) markets.
The refurbishment, now over 90% completed, is scheduled for completion by mid-November.
“In the last two weeks of November, we are receiving about 2,800 delegates from India in two batches from an internationally known multi-level marketing company to take part in an annual conference.
“Our sister hotel, Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, will help provide accommodation for the guests, as we won’t have enough rooms.
“This is the largest delegation to arrive from a single company and country in the past 15 years. We are now targeting also the corporate and MICE segment and not just the leisure crowd.” Golden Sands Resort general manager Bruno Cristol said adding that it also provide unlimited free wireless services for all the rooms and in the lobby.
Cristol noted that Australians and Indians were coming to Penang more frequently due to frequent direct flights, and as Penang carved up new tourism markets, such as Eastern Europe.
The newly opened RM150mil Hard Rock Hotel in Batu Ferringhi is also wooing the corporate market segment.
Operations director Thomas Blachere said a delegation of 400 people from an MNC in the country would be staying at the hotel this month for an incentive meeting.
“We will be packed with visitors from South-East Asia, as we have received many enquiries from corporate clients in the region to hold incentive meetings here,” he said.
Blachere said the hotel would be tying up with airlines such as AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and Firefly soon to promote domestic and regional tourism.
“We have special rates for visitors who fly with these airlines,” he said.
Eastin Hotel manager Mary Ann Harris said besides the normal leisure crowd, the hotel aimed to attract customers from MNCs, MICE, the travel industry and the medical tourism market.
The hotel is targeting guests from countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Japan, Australia, United States and Europe.
“We are aiming for an over 80% occupancy rate for the final quarter of the year,” Harris said.
Marco Battistotti, the Penang chapter chairman of the Malaysia Association of Hotels, noted that over the last two years, Penang had seen an increase in the number of visitors from the corporate and MICE market segments.
“There is regular demand by business and MICE groups from emerging destinations such as India, China and Taiwan to host small-scale incentive and corporate meetings in Penang.
“That is why there are hotels that want to shift away from the traditional resort and leisure market segment and focus on expanding the corporate and MICE market segment,” Battistotti said.
He expects the performance of hotels in the state for the final quarter of 2009 to be better than the same period in 2008.
“Because of the economic crisis, the hotel occupancy rate dropped to about 55% in the first half of 2009. But the occupancy rate of hotels here is gradually climbing back and should hit about 65% by the end of 2009,” he said.

Source : STAR
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