International travel is at an all-time high, particularly with the Chinese market increasing in Australia and New Zealand year on year. In light of this increase, Accomnews spoke exclusively with Oaks Hotels & Resorts’ general manager, Daniel Csortan, about the importance of understanding a hotel’s market and tailoring services and amenities.
Having seen a 287 percent increase in room nights from inbound Chinese travellers in late 2016, Oaks Hotels & Resorts is launching its ‘guì bīn’ program across selected properties. The program is named after the Chinese word for ‘VIP’ and ‘honoured guest’, and includes a welcome letter written in Mandarin, a number of Chinese services and in-room amenities, and Chinese speaking staff. According to Mr Csortan, it’s of “extreme importance” to understand and provide for targeted markets.
“In an ever-changing world, we need to be able to adapt quickly to travel trends. Therefore, being across the intricacies of all market segments is a must in order to fully capture a particular market and be able to switch it on or off as required,” he said.
He also commented that Australia and New Zealand are very stable environments in comparison to the rest of the world. This is an advantage for Australian and New Zealand hotels, making it easier for them to introduce lasting programs.
“In our overseas properties such as Thailand and the Middle East, we have to adapt quickly, as they are far more prone to political and environmental changes that can mean a market can disappear overnight. Suddenly we need to ‘turn on’ a new market. To do this successfully, you need to fully understand all aspects of it; cultural, financial and environmental,” he explained.
While it wouldn’t be viable to constantly update amenities for varying markets, Mr Csortan said it’s important to ensure some of the comforts of home are in place to greet guests, particularly from emerging markets.
“The traveller may not only be on their first visit to one of our properties, but perhaps it’s the first time they have ever been outside of their country of origin. It’s those simple touches, that minimal cost, that can make a huge difference, and in turn leave a memorable impression for the traveller, and also the Tour Operator or agent making the booking,” he said.
One way Mr Csortan suggest making guests feel welcome and ‘at home’ is by employing multilingual staff. Oaks Hotels & Resorts has staff from 61 nationalities in Australia alone, ensuring that all properties have an array of nationalities and multilingual operation.
“For the weary traveller, often travelling over 24 hours to get to one of our hotels, to be greeted by someone speaking their native tongue is of immense value, and a memorable start to their stay. Other hoteliers do the same. It should be common practice,” he said.
For Oaks Hotels & Resorts, business between New Zealand and Australia is currently the largest international market; however, China’s growth is quickly outpacing these markets.
“We anticipate it will be our single largest market outside the region shortly,” Mr Csortan said. “What’s great about the Chinese market is we are seeing these travellers travel to the ‘non-traditional’ inbound markets such as Brisbane and Adelaide, fuelled by new air access.”
He told Accomnews that other growth markets include India, Indonesia and Korea, with Japan also seeing new growth. The UK and North America also remain stable markets.
What services and/or amenities does your hotel, resort or accommodation offer to growing international markets?