The hotel sector in Asia Pacific (APAC) has experienced robust growth in recent years, led by China, and with hundreds of new hotels come lots of new event venues to cater to the region's burgeoning MICE sector. With the industry not expected to slow down anytime soon, the world's top brands are rushing to keep up with demand.
According to STR's June 2017 Pipeline Report, there is an inventory of 612,210 rooms in 2,767 hotel projects under contract in Asia Pacific. This represents a 6.2% increase in rooms under contract compared with that of June 2016. Asia Pacific had 270,976 rooms in 1,183 projects under construction for the month. Based on room inventory, that is an 8.5% increase in year-over-year comparison.
One company that is doing particularly well is AccorHotels, which is reflected across its entire portfolio of properties.
"We see an increase in demand from our key international markets in the incentive segment and we are enjoying the trend that sees our major corporate markets spending more on events than on traditional marketing and advertising," said Kerry Healy, VP of Sales, Asia Pacific, AccorHotels.
Ibis hotels, one of the company's brands, is increasingly including meeting rooms when opening new properties due to demand from customers looking for affordable meeting options. Those looking for more luxurious venues for events can look to the brand's Sofitel and Pullman properties.
When it comes to quantifying success, AccorHotels can point to the opening of its 800th property in Asia Pacific. And in keeping with demand from consumers, the 223-room Sofitel Singapore City Centre offers nearly 2,000 square metres of meeting space across 10 flexible venues including the 600 sqm Wallich Ballroom.
While Sofitel is a firm favourite for upscale meetings, newer AccorHotels brands such as Pullman are also targeting the events sector.
"Our Pullman brand, though relatively young, is particularly well placed for meeting and events and with 37 hotels scheduled to open over the next five years in this region, and adding to our existing 68 Pullman properties, we expect significant growth from this segment and are focused heavily on developing the positioning of this brand with our meeting and event customers," said Healy.
"We see an increase in demand from our key international markets in the incentive segment..."
- Kerry Healy, VP of Sales, Asia Pacific, AccorHotels
Hilton, which promotes its MICE sector as one of its key business areas, has also seen positive growth across all of its brands in APAC.
"In Asia Pacific, we have strategically deployed seven of our 14 high-quality, distinct brands," said Rupert Hallam, Vice President of Sales, APAC. "Hilton is one of the fastest-growing global hospitality companies in the region, with more than one in five rooms under construction carrying a Hilton branded name. This year alone, the brand opened an average of one hotel each week in Asia Pacific."
New hotels include the brand's 100th hotel in Greater China, Hilton Quanzhou Riverside, located right in the heart of Quanzhou which is an important economic centre in southeastern China for the corporate and MICE segments. The new Conrad Guangzhou, located in the CBD of Zhujiang New Town, offers meeting organisers and delegates state-of-the-art facilities.
"As various parts of Asia Pacific become increasingly accessible, meeting planners are now turning to venues and destinations beyond conventional urban cities like Singapore and Hong Kong. They are now looking at upcom-ing destinations such as Vietnam and Thailand, where there are more options across segments and at reasonable prices - and we are meeting this demand with our robust pipeline in Asia Pacific," said Hallam.
"This year alone, the brand opened an average of one hotel each week in Asia Pacific."
- Rupert Hallam, Vice President of Sales, APAC, hilton worldwide
HYATT HOTELS CORPORATION
Hyatt gets active on the Asia hotel trail with multiple brand concepts in both new and familiar markets this year.
Its expansion is perhaps most evident in China where Hyatt has opened four different brand concepts across seven new properties throughout the country. These include: Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt House and Hyatt Place.
It's also cultivating its presence in India, having introduced the 27th branded hotel with the opening of Hyatt Place Rameswaram and Hyatt Regency Lucknow this year. In Southeast Asia, Hyatt opened Park Hyatt Bangkok and welcomed its first Andaz hotel in the region with its 342-room luxury property in Singapore.
Pipeline projects include the first Park Hyatt in Jakarta (2018), Hyatt Place Tokyo Bay, Japan (2019), and the first Hyatt Centric and Hyatt House hotel combination in Kanazawa Japan (2020). Hyatt has also announced ambitions to develop the second-largest Grand Hyatt hotel in the world in Jeju, South Korea.
These openings highlight Hyatt's ambitions to stay competitive as an international hotel brand. They are "a testament to our commitment to strategic growth for these brands throughout the world," said Steve Haggerty, Hyatt's Global Head of Capital Strategy, Franchising and Select Service.
"We are proud that Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels continue to open in markets where our guests are traveling, further demonstrating the overall strength and resonance of the brands with developers, owners and guests."
INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP (IHG)
IHG recently announced plans to expand its resort portfolio, with an emphasis on growth in Asia. The four new properties will span IHG's various brands, including the first Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in Southeast Asia - opening in Bali, 2019.
However, Kimpton's growth won't stop there as IHG has indicated plans to open two more properties in China by 2021. On top of this, IHG is also launching the first four of its EVEN® hotels in Shanghai, Sanya, Chongqing and Jinan between 2019 and 2022.
Vietnam will see the first Hotel Indigo at the Starbay district in Phu Quoc, as well as an InterContinental Resort and Holiday Inn Resort in Vietnam's Sapa region. All this follows the opening of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay earlier this year.
Said Leanne Harwood, Vice President, New Hotels AMEA, IHG: "In Asia, we recently announced our first signings for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in Bali, Indonesia, and Shanghai and Sanya in China, as well as the expansion of our EVEN® Hotels brand into Greater China… These are massive moments for IHG as our aim of making these brands global is really taking off."
Across AMEA, IHG currently has 42 resorts in operation, accounting for 15% of its total property portfolio, and 25 resorts in the development pipeline.
"In Asia, we recently announced our first signings for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in Bali, Indonesia, and Shanghai and Sanya in China..."
- Leanne Harwood, Vice President, New Hotels, AMEA, IHG
Marriott International, which already has 600 properties in Asia Pacific, has hundreds more in the pipeline, and all of the company's brands tout MICE as a core part of their strategy, with the company feeling optimistic for 2018.
"Our aim is to operate over 1,000 hotels by 2020. The combined APAC development pipeline includes over 510 hotels with over 132,000 rooms, of which nearly 28% is already under construction," said Ramesh Daryanani, Vice President, Global Sales, Asia Pacific (Excluding Greater China), Marriott International.
Two new Marriott brands in Asia this year include MOXY, touted as a next-gen boutique hotel brand for the 'always on' and digitally savvy, which has properties opening in Tokyo and Osaka; and Delta, a premium brand distinguished by its rich Canadian heritage will be opening in suburban Shanghai.
Recently opened hotels under the company include JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, which features the largest LED wall in a hotel ballroom in Singapore, and Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen's Park which offers more than 30 distinct meeting venues and offers the 'Meetings Imagined' concept.
"Meetingsimagined.com is a pin-worthy site for meetings and provides planners with ideas and inspiration for more engaging experiences. We can tailor F&B, set-up, technology and more based on the purpose of each meeting for any budget," said Daryanani.
"Our aim is to operate over 1,000 hotels by 2020.The combined APAC development pipeline includes over 510 hotels with over 132,000 rooms, of which nearly 28% is already under construction."
- Ramesh Daryanani, Vice President, Global Sales, Asia Pacific (Excluding Greater China), marriott international
MELCO RESORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Morpheus, a high-end hotel which will open early next year, is the fifth tower in the sprawling City of Dreams complex located on the Cotai Strip. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the new addition will offer around 780 guest rooms, and dining options on the higher level of the resort, offering panoramic views of Macau.
For massive integrated resorts like City of Dreams, MICE is big business, offering a range of different brands under one roof and a one-stop destination for everything from entertainment, dining and shopping to team building and incentive activities for delegates.
"MICE travellers are now exploring alternative accommodation and entertainment offerings during major conferences to provide their guests with unforgettable experiences," said Sally Zhang, Director of Sales, Melco Resorts & Entertainment.
Across the Cotai Strip, MGM COTAI is slated to open in Macau early next year and will offer 1,390 rooms and diverse offerings including MGM Theater at COTAI.
"We are setting new standards with space and technology and we believe it will become Macau's most innovative event space. This versatile venue can accommodate up to 2,000 guests and has 180 degrees of 12m-high 4K LED screens to amaze guests with vivid presentations for an unforgettable experience," said Victoria Fuh, Vice President, Resort Sales, MGM.
Hoping to address the demand for unique and high-quality MICE venues in Macau, MGM COTAI hopes to drive demand via first-time experiences to Macau from all markets.
"We will focus on our expertise in art and entertainment to attract all customer segments to the new resort. From MICE to individual leisure travellers, we will have new experiences for them to explore," added Fuh.
"We are setting new standards with space and technology and we believe it will become Macau's most innovative event space."
- Victoria Fuh, Vice President of Resort Sales, MGM
The group has 12 developments in the pipeline from 2018 to 2021, with a focus on up-and-coming cities in China. Expected openings next year are Shangri-La Hotel, Jinan and Jinji Lake Shangri-La, Suzhou, while Malaysia will welcome Hotel Jen, Kota Kinabalu, targeted at MICE groups.
Shangri-La opened five hotels this year, with Shangri-La Hotel Colombo opening this month with the region's largest pillar-less ballroom at 1,580 sqm. Joining the line-up is Shangri-La Hotel, Xiamen, which is the only hotel in the city to feature an elevator that is able to transport automobiles directly to the ballroom.
Capturing the attention of new-gen travellers are the group's Kerry Hotel and Hotel Jen brands. "Hotel Jen Beijing goes against the grain of the traditional staid business centre and provides a vibrant co-working space named Prototype, complete with a cafe, individual pods and private meeting rooms, while Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong makes an impression with its Grand Ballroom. It features Hong Kong's largest LED wall measuring 15.4-metres wide by 4.3-metres high," says Janet Yu, Shangri-La's corporate director of meetings and incentive groups strategy.
"With 100 hotels located around the world from Lhasa to London, Shangri-La offers one of the most extensive collections of inspired meeting and event venues, boasting more than 300,000 square metres of dedicated event space," adds Yu.
With Macau seeing strong growth in the MICE sector, integrated resorts in the city are primed to host mega meetings and conferences. The opening of The Parisian Macao has been a huge draw for the MICE sector, adding to the allure of the group's properties at Cotai Strip, giving planners variety and convenience in organising large-scale events with unique themed concepts.
"We have seen the MICE segment perform exceptionally well across all our properties particularly at The Parisian Macao. MICE demand at the property has increased nine-fold in Q4 2017 compared to Q4, 2016," said Stephanie Tanpure, Vice President, Sales, Sands China Ltd.
"We have seen the MICE segment perform exceptionally well across all our properties particularly at The Parisian Macao."
- Stephanie Tanpure, Vice President, Sales, Sands China Ltd
WYNDHAM HOTEL GROUP
While some hotel groups are focused on growth across APAC as a whole, others have found increased interest in certain countries, including Wyndham Hotel Group which has zoned in on South Korea.
"As our portfolio grows in the region, we have experienced an increased interest in our products from business and corporate travellers, especially in countries such as South Korea where we now have 29 hotels in operation. Our new openings are based in strategic locations such as Haeundae, Incheon and close to Jeju offices, which bodes well especially for South Korean domestic business travel," said Tony Gothard, Senior Director of Revenue, Sales & Marketing, Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and Pacific Rim.
Wyndham Hotel Group opened the 402-room Ramada Encore Busan Haeundae last month, which has the potential to attract the MICE market due to its proximity to BEXCO, the city's largest convention centre. The recent opening of the 305-room Ramada Gangwon Taebaek is located in the Gangwon province which will place guests close to the heart of the sporting action at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
"We see the potential for incentive travel with the resort being a two-minute drive from Taebaeksan National Park, home to a host of seasonal outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking," said Gothard.
In total, the group has opened 12 hotels across Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines under the Wyndham, Ramada and TRYP by Wyndham brand flags, with Wyndham Grand, Wyndham and Ramada having performed exceptionally well in the MICE segment.
"As our portfolio grows in the region, we have experienced an increased interest in our products from business and corporate travellers, especially in countries such as South Korea..."
- Tony Gothard, Senior Director of Revenue, Sales & Marketing, Wyndham Hotel Group, South East Asia and Pacific Rim