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.

Singapore Business Review - - CONTENTS -

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

Raf­fles Ho­tel

Vil­lage Ho­tel Sen­tosa

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