Bali sees increase in event enquiries ahead of border reopening

As the island prepares to reopen borders to international visitors, hotels see first positive signs of MICE revival

Mulia Bali’s Grand Ballroom: Domestic business events are already picking up in Bali, although global events planners are either considering bringing in groups in Q4 or pushing plans to 2021.
Mulia Bali’s Grand Ballroom: Domestic business events are already picking up in Bali, although global events planners are either considering bringing in groups in Q4 or pushing plans to 2021. Photo Credit: Mulia Bali

BALI – Restarting the economy in phases, the resort island will open to international travellers on September 11 and already, hotels are receiving event enquiries for 2021.

“The feedback we receive is that Bali is ranked number one in ‘places you want to travel to when travel restrictions are over’, so now it simply boils down to waiving or lightening these restrictions. It has to be done at the B2B level,” said Jean Charles Le Coz, marketing advisor at Bali Hotels Association (BHA).

According to the association, many local hotels have come up with heavily discounted prices for room nights booked now, but redeemable within a 12 to 18 months period. Also, the island has been running a continuous social media marketing campaign to keep Bali top of mind with customers in key markets across APAC.

“We are very excited that Bali will open to international guests in September, however the reality is that some countries will still not be able to visit yet due to their own outbound restrictions. This includes some of our biggest markets like Singapore, Middle East, Europe, the UK and US, Australia so we are working on a market by market basis,” said Katya Herting, General Manager at Raffles Bali, which opened earlier this month.

In addition to safety and cleanliness concerns, Adam Bardetta, Hotel Manager at Mulia Bali said that “most business travellers — individual or group — are holding back their plans to next year… with most people generally [waiting] to see how things progress as Bali opens across phases 2 and 3”.

Raffles Bali is seeing the same level of caution, Herting said that after speaking to corporate planners for many months, “people do want to return to travel and to events, but they are cautious about booking events too far in advance as the situation is changing constantly and they want to be sure of what government measures or travel restrictions might be in place”.

Hoteliers reassess market strategies

Still, could news of reopening after months of lockdown become a situation of too many hotels fighting for the same short-haul market pie?

Speaking to M&C Asia, Sherly Carolina, GM of VOUK Hotel & Suites located at Nusa Dua, raised concerns about a possible price war, since “competition was already quite tough before the pandemic, and when Bali reopens to tourists, I’m sure all hotels will want to grab as many domestic and international tourists as they can”.

For Mulia's Bardetta, flexibility is key in order to stay in the game.

“The pandemic has shifted the industry so much that the travel industry has to be ready to adapt at a moment's notice adjusting to the latest development. It means our strategy has to be flexible to fit into various scenarios,” he said.

Located in the Nusa Dua area, Bardetta said the property will continue to focus on MICE and leisure business.

Raffles Bali, meanwhile, will seek to woo MICE groups with a focus on wellness travel. Herting believes that “many companies will be looking at incentives that can help delegates rebalance and reconnect amid the global lockdowns”.

Then, over at VOUK Hotels & Suites, Carolina said event inquiries have continued during the pandemic and that the team is currently finalising a number of domestic MICE bookings for the next few months.

All three hotels remain hopeful that travellers will return, because, as BHA's Le Coz insisted, Bali still is “the paradise it is known to be".