Tech and sustainability to define Singapore hotels
From contactless check-in counters to plant-derived plastic bottles, the hospitality sector in Singapore is steadily embracing tech and green initiatives.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel retains the top spot in Singapore Business Review’s largest hotels survey with its 2,561 rooms. Coming in second is Hotel Boss with 1,500 rooms. Rounding up the top 5 are Swissôtel The Stamford, Mandarin Orchard Singapore, and Carlton Hotel Singapore with 1,261 rooms, 1,077 rooms, and 940 rooms, respectively.
Ong Choon Fah, CEO of Edmund Tie & Company, noted that hotel room demand in Singapore in the last 12 months has largely been boosted by four factors: the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June 2018; the release of “Crazy Rich Asians,” which showcased Singapore as a popular tourist destination; the
14% YOY increase in business travel and meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions (BTMICE) visitor arrivals as of the third quarter of 2018; and the sustained marketing efforts of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) through its effective and strategic marketing partnerships.
“With international visitor arrivals reaching a record 18.5 million, together with limited hotel additions, has fuelled positive increase in trading performance across all hotel chain sales,” said Giuliano Esposito, senior vice president for strategy advisory and asset management in Asia at JLL Hotels and Hospitality.
Visitor days, according to Colliers International executive director for valuation and advisory services Govinda Singh, also grew, bumping up 4.8% from the previous year, with length of stay increasing to 3.38 days in 2018 from 3.33 days the year before. “This is a good performance and indicates that Singapore hotels, and especially those in prime locations, are generally full during peak periods year-round,” Singh said, noting the 86% occupancy rates as of end 2018.
Challenges up ahead
Despite its heydays in 2018, Singapore hotels may have to face some cloudy moments in 2019. “General outlook for 2019 will continue to be slightly overcast, especially with financial conditions tightening and global growth slowing down. Business confidence seem less robust,” said Cinn Tan, chief sales and marketing officer for Pan Pacific Hotels Group. Another big challenge is the labour crunch and the shortage it has been effecting amongst industry players, big or small. Zhang Jiahao,
Manager for CBRE Hotels in Asiapacific, said that this labour crunch is not only making it difficult for hotel owners and operators to deal with the shortage of manpower in their businesses, but also making it more costly for some customers. “This issue is likely to be exacerbated by the lower foreign worker quota in the services sector, announced in the recent Budget 2019.”
Outlook for 2019
Esposito noted that REVPAR is expected to improve throughout 2019 and 2020, as about 50% of supply in the next two years will be concentrated in Sentosa and in the outskirts of the city and will be consolidated over time. “Singapore’s hotel sector is to embark on an upswing. The STB aims to boost international visitor arrivals to the range of 18.7 million to 19.2 million.” This sentiment is echoed by Zhang, noting that the STB’S continued efforts will help boost tourist arrivals as well as the performance of the country’s hotel and hospitality industry.
The new technology enhancement helps complete check-in in under a minute per guest.
Trend: tech and sustainability
Singapore hotels have been increasing adoption of technology and sustainability in all facets of operations. A spokesperson from Accorhotels have acknowledged this, noting that two of the biggest trends facing the hotel industry are technology and sustainability.
For instance, Singh explained that technology has been a big boost for the hospitality and hotel industry in Singapore not just in making the booking, checking in, and feedback process for the customers easier, but it’s also helping businesses cope with rising challenges, including the labour crunch that the whole
country is experiencing. Accorhotels currently provides state-of-the-art and innovative facilities to its clients. In Swissôtel The Stamford, customers will observe the automation of utilities as soon as they walk in their room, eliminating the need for a key card to activate the lights; the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; and other systems. This also helps in saving energy as it automatically turns off utilities once the client walks out of the room. Swissôtel The Stamford also rolled out automated check-in and check-out counters, along with an industry-first biometric facial recognition feature. “The new technology enhancement helps complete check-in in under a minute per guest.” the spokesperson said.
In terms of sustanaibility, many hotels and their facilities are implementing steps and efforts to ensure environment-friendly efforts— from their food selection to the amenities and energy consumption. Grand Hyatt Singapore, for instance, has introduced plant-based options for their food and beverage and hospitality amenities as part of their sustainability commitment.
“We have since introduced these options to our MICE menus much to the delight of event planners and organisers, who are increasingly conscious of providing healthy options whilst ensuring that their event is able to do good for our environment too,” said Lucas
Glanville, chef and director of culinary operations for Grand Hyatt Singapore. “Grand Hyatt Singapore will continue to put our planet at the forefront of our decisions, and we will follow the success of 2018 with more sustainable initiatives in 2019.”
One of these initiatives include the launch of JUST WATER to all the hotel’s events from March 2019 onwards. JUST WATER is 100% sustainably-sourced spring water is packaged in paper-based bottles and is covered by a plant-based cap made from sugar cane, making the entire bottle 82% plant-derived. “Unlike conventional plastic bottles that gets thrown away after a couple of sips, event attendees will be encouraged to write their names in their bottle and to refill their bottle with our hydro taps throughout the event,” he said.
Glanville noted that this will drastically reduce plastic wastage in their hotel and significantly lessen their use of bottles, which amount to over 400,000 pieces every year for the events they host.
Other hotels that have made efforts towards sustainability include Pan Pacific Hotel Group, with Tan noting that PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road will offer a drinking water filtration system in each of their guest rooms, which will help eliminate the use of bottled water when the renovation is completed in 2020. Accorhotel, meanwhile, has committed to reduce their food waste by 30%, reduce their energy and water consumption, and ensure that the hotel is giving back to the local communities.
“In a country like Singapore, which imports so much of its food, it’s surprising to learn that many Singaporeans go hungry every day whilst as a nation we are wasting so much food,” the Accorhotel spokesperson said. “This is why we are looking at our whole food supply chain to find ways to not only reduce our own waste but to redistribute leftover food that is perfectly safe for consumption to those in need.”
New hotels to watch out for in 2019
Some of the new hotels to watch out for include the reopening of Raffles Hotel, Capri by Fraser China Square, Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore, as well as Yotelair Singapore and Jewel in Changi Airport. In 2020, Marriot’s lifestyle brand Edition is also slated to enter the market.
Tourists and locals alike may also look forward to the opening of three Far East Hotels in Sentosa—the Outpost Hotel, The Barracks Hotel, and the Village Hotel Sentosa.
For its events, Grand Hyatt Singapore is launching spring water bottles that’s 82% plant derived to reduce plastic wastage.
Grand Hyatt ballroom
Village Hotel Sentosa