‘In­dia our #1 mar­ket for MICE’

The Shangri-La Colombo ho­tel group ex­pects In­dia to be its num­ber one source mar­ket for its new­est prop­erty that will open in Colombo later this year, spe­cially tar­geted at the MICE seg­ment

Micetalk - - Contents - Hazel Jain

Due to open later this year, Shangri-La Ho­tel, Colombo will be the groups’ sec­ond prop­erty in neigh­bour­ing Sri Lanka. This au­to­mat­i­cally puts In­dia in a strate­gic po­si­tion as a source mar­ket, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the huge MICE move­ment that orig­i­nates from here.

Ti­mothy Wright, Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager, Shangri-La Ho­tel, Colombo, was in Mum­bai re­cently with a huge Shangri-La del­e­ga­tion to meet the travel trade. Re­veal­ing more de­tails about the ho­tel, he said, “We will un­doubt­edly have the most ex­pan­sive con­fer­ence and meet­ings space in Sri Lanka. Our board­room, for in­stance, will be by far the largest there is in Sri Lanka. Other op­tions in­clude an out­door lawn that can ac­com­mo­date be­tween 500-700 peo­ple. The ho­tel has iden­ti­fied ‘events’ – whether they are lo­cal so­cial func­tions, des­ti­na­tion wed­dings, or large con­fer­ences – as key busi­ness seg­ments. In­dia will be our num­ber one source mar­ket for this prop­erty.”

MICE is also some­thing that the Sri Lankan Tourism Board is eye­ing. “They have re­alised

that it is a miss­ing com­po­nent cur­rently in tar­get seg­ments for Sri lanka pri­mar­ily be­cause ho­tels, when they were built in Colombo, didn’t an­tic­i­pate or didn’t at that time see the need for fa­cil­i­ties and as such don’t have the req­ui­site fa­cil­i­ties to cap­ture that mar­ket,” Wright ex­plains.

BANK­ING ON IN­DIA-SRI LANKA TRAF­FIC

The ho­tel group’s con­fi­dence in the po­ten­tial that Sri Lanka of­fers is re­flected in the in­vest­ment it has made there. He says, “Our Colombo prop­erty is one of our largest in­vest­ments we have made so far. It is a mixed-use com­plex – with a ho­tel, of­fice build­ing, res­i­den­tial com­plex and a shop­ping mall – so the en­tire com­plex is in ex­cess of USD 500 mil­lion. So our com­mit­ment and our con­fi­dence in the po­ten­tial of Sri Lanka is tremen­dous.”

Shangri-La’s first prop­erty in Sri Lanka was a 300-key city re­sort on ap­prox­i­mately 145 acres of land in Ham­ban­tota, on the south­ern coast of Sri Lanka. Wright adds, “It is in a lo­ca­tion that is emerg­ing, there are very few prop­er­ties of that size and of that na­ture in the deep south­ern belt. How­ever, our own­ers un­der­stood that there’s a port close by, an air­port close by, and whilst ac­ces­si­bil­ity at this time is dif­fi­cult, Colombo is a four-hour drive, we see that there is in­fras­truc­ture be­ing built and that the air­port will be­come more pop­u­lar. Hav­ing said that, busi­ness has al­ready started to pick up. We have achieved a tremen­dous re­sponse from the lo­cal Sri Lankan com­mu­nity in the first few months and now we see that the In­dian mar­ket, Chi­nese as well as the Euro­pean mar­kets start to re­ally be­come es­tab­lished.”

Speak­ing about how the dif­fer­ent mar­kets are per­form­ing, he feels that the short-haul mar­kets like In­dia and China gen­er­ally de­velop quite quickly. The longer-haul mar­kets – Europe, Rus­sia, and the Mid­dle East – take longer to de­velop. “Nev­er­the­less, I see the In­dia mar­ket as a very vi­brant, fast-paced busi­ness and it will cer­tainly be very ex­cit­ing to watch how some­what tra­di­tional chan­nels of do­ing busi­ness now start to re­ally take hold of tech­nol­ogy and new chan­nels of the dig­i­tal world. China is the fastest grow­ing and is rapidly catch­ing up with In­dia,” he says.

Shangri-La’s first prop­erty in Sri Lanka was a 300-key city re­sort in Ham­ban­tota

Shangri-La mean­while has ap­pointed a new group tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer pri­mar­ily fo­cus­ing on two ma­jor ar­eas – e-com­merce and the chan­nels of bring­ing in busi­ness as well as the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and so­cial me­dia. “There are other op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove our pro­duc­tiv­ity, to im­prove our abil­ity to meet guests’ needs. There are also lots of new ap­pli­ca­tions, lots of new tech­nolo­gies that are be­ing de­vel­oped to im­prove guest ex­pe­ri­ence. We are con­stantly look­ing at how we can adapt our tech­no­log­i­cal capabilities,” Wright adds.

ABOUT THE HO­TEL

Shangri-La Ho­tel, Colombo will be lo­cated be­tween the Galle Face green prom­e­nade and Beira Lake, with un­in­ter­rupted views of the In­dian Ocean. The ho­tel will be eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from Colombo In­ter­na­tional Air­port in 45 min­utes by car. It will of­fer 500 rooms of­fer­ing some of the largest ac­com­mo­da­tion in town at 45 square me­tres to 60 square me­tres (484 square feet to 646 square feet). This also in­cludes 30 suites rang­ing in size from 90 square me­tres to 225 square me­tres (968 square feet to 2,421 square feet). We will have 500 rooms, in­clud­ing 30 suites, 41 ser­viced apart­ments, and five restau­rants. This will in­clude our renowned Shang Palace Chi­nese restau­rant.

The meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties will be among the largest in Colombo, with over 4,500 square me­tres (48,438 square feet) of func­tion space spread over three floors to host meet­ings, re­cep­tions and pri­vate func­tions. A fit­ness cen­tre, spa, pool and two out­door tennis courts will com­plete the recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties. A range of restau­rant and lounge con­cepts will be avail­able at the ho­tel.

Ti­mothy Wright

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