Home-grown habitation

Tour operators around the region pick their favourite local economy hotels and highlight their edge over international competitors. 

Hotel 81
Tony Aw
Senior inbound manager
Hong Thai Travel

Why There are a lot of choices and most properties are found in key locations bordering the central business district. Hotel 81 is quite basic, but it offers exactly what the budget traveller wants – clean, air-conditioned rooms in a convenient location at a low price.

How it compares Hotel 81 wins hands down when it comes to offering value for money. However, in terms of rooms, facilities and service standards, international economy brands have the advantage. Most Hotel 81 properties offer nothing more than minimally furnished rooms, but international chains such as Ibis tend to offer a little more – such as a restaurant or on-site parking. Moreover, rooms are furnished with higher-quality fittings.

How it can improve Hotel 81 should continue to do what it does best – offering no-frills accommodation at reasonable prices. It is easy to negotiate rates with Hotel 81 properties, and high occupancy rates at individual hotels are less of a problem, as there are numerous properties to choose from.

Network 24 hotels primarily in the suburbs or just outside the central business district, including Kovan, Geylang, Joo Chiat, Rochor, Lavender, Bencoolen and Bugis. Sister brands include Value Hotel, which operates in the economy category, and the upscale V Hotel.

In the pipeline Nothing at the moment.

Rates: From S$55-159 (US$44-129) per night

Fragrance Hotel
Jaclyn Yeoh
Managing director
Siam Express

Why We have established a good relationship with Fragrance’s director of sales. The reservations team is efficient and always willing to help. It is also easier to negotiate terms with Fragrance compared to international brands. Furthermore, we find that the rates that international brands give us are sometimes higher than the ones advertised directly to consumers online, which puts us in a quandary.

How it compares International brand hotels do fare better in terms of room quality and breakfast offerings. Nonetheless, customers on a budget are less concerned about ambience and extra services, as price is deemed to be more important when it comes to choosing where to stay. Fragrance wins in this respect, as its rates tends to be lower than international players.

How it can improve There needs to be more consistency across properties, especially in terms of housekeeping standards.

Network 22 hotels primarily within districts on the fringes of the central business district, including Geylang, Bugis, Katong, Novena, Lavender, Balestier, Little India, Harbourfront and Clarke Quay. Fragrance Hotel is one of two brands owned by Global Premium Hotels, the other being the three-star Parc Sovereign brand.

In the pipeline Global Premium Hotels intends to grow the number of properties under its Fragrance and Parc Sovereign brands in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar. A target of 200-300 rooms a year has been set. The Group has recently received government approval to build a 270-room hotel in Lavender in Singapore. An IPO was also launched in April to raise funds for its planned expansion.

Rates: S$68-138 (US$55-112) per night

Hotel Sentral
Manfred Kurz
Managing director
Diethelm Travel Malaysia

Why We use Hotel Sentral Pudu and Hotel Sentral Kuala Lumpur because of their good locations, good rates and cleanliness.

How it compares Rates are competitive with other local brands in the same category. You get value for money. The disadvantage is that this local brand is not known in Europe. This makes it rather difficult to market. We need photos and write-ups to promote this hotel to tour operators abroad.

How it can improve As a local chain, it needs to do more marketing to improve brand visibility. It should work with tour operators to promote the property abroad, attend tradeshows and create visibility on social media platforms.

Network Hotel Sentral has seven properties in Malaysia: Hotel Sentral Kuala Lumpur, Hotel Sentral Pudu, Hotel Sentral Kuantan, Hotel Sentral Johor Bahru, Hotel Sentral Georgetown, Redang Beach Resort in Terengganu and Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort in Kota Bharu, Kelantan.

In the pipeline It plans to open two new properties by 2014, one in Johor Bahru and another in Kuala Lumpur.

Rates: From RM130 (US$42) per night for a superior room

Alpha Genesis Hotel
Clement Ho
Head of sales
Asia Experience Tours

Why Alpha Genesis Hotel in Kuala Lumpur is in a good location, and the rates are compatible with clients’ budgets.

How it compares Management can make quick decisions for local brands. With international brands, decisions might take longer as they are made at the corporate office overseas. That said, with foreign brands you can expect a certain level of standards. With a local one, there is no brand familiarity. Travel consultants will not know what to expect in terms of service.

How it can improve Market the brand more to create more awareness. This can be done easily through social networking sites and through hotel review websites.

Network Alpha Genesis Hotel is a standalone property located at the Bukit Bintang area in Kuala Lumpur.

In the pipeline There are currently no plans for additional properties. Renovations at Alpha Genesis Hotel were completed in 2011 for all 116 rooms, and the hotel began offering free Wi-Fi in June. By year-end, the hotel will begin refurbishing all rooms with 24-inch LCD televisions and changing carpets in the corridors, with the facelift expected to be complete by Q12013.

Rates: From RM179 (US$58) for superior and deluxe rooms, including breakfast

Islands Stay Hotels
Clang Garcia
Managing director
Jeepney Tours

Why Sometimes travellers just need the basic amenities in a clean, reputable and trustworthy hotel. Islands Stay Hotels doesn’t play around with pricing. It has straightforward and simplified rates based on T-shirt sizes: small, medium, large and extra large.

How it compares It doesn’t offer commissions for business, which sometimes turns tour operators off, but we highly recommend it because it’s trustworthy and offers value for money on par with international economy brands. The design is chic too.

How it can improve I would suggest a travel concierge in case guests need suggestions on the best dining places, tourist attractions and information about the area. It may be a good idea to convert the registration area into a concierge area.

Network There are two hotels: one in Mactan and the other in Cebu.

In the pipeline The hotel chain is open to franchising, and there are plans to open more hotels in Cebu, Manila, Davao, Palawan and Baguio in the years to come, but no fixed date has been given.

Rates: From P950 (US$23) for a small room to P2,250 for an extra large room

Manila Airport Hotel
Ine Faustino
General manager
CCT 168 Travel and Tours

Why Reasonably priced, convenient and accessible, the Manila Airport Hotel is a stone’s throw away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. There is a free shuttle service from the airport, and a paid shuttle service to Terminals 1 to 3.

How it compares The airport has Wi-Fi, which is now a must for all hotels. It also offers massage and spa services for weary travellers.

How it can improve The hotel is far from shopping and recreational areas in Manila. What it can do is provide free shuttle services to say, the Mall of Asia and other points in Manila.

Network A standalone hotel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Complex.

In the pipeline Nothing at the moment.

Rates: From P2,798 (US$67) for a standard room, P3,198 for a superior room and P5,000 for a villa and penthouse suite

Sawasdee and Woraburi
Wacharaporn Katia Phiewkaow
Managing director
Discovery Holidays Co

Why Sawasdee and Woraburi brands are popular because budget hotels are in demand among Russian, French and Indian clients. Clients, especially in groups, specifically request certain hotels because they are affordable. Cost and location are the most essential customer demands, with good service being the added plus that brings clients back again.

How it compares We use local brands because they allow room allotments, always offer friendly promotional rates, and we have established a good business relationship with the brand over the years.

How it can improve With the basics of cost, location and service already in place, the brands can improve by aiming for growth in terms of marketing and service in order to keep up with the stiff competition in the industry.

Network Sawasdee & Woraburi Group operates a total of 16 hotels, with eight hotels in Bangkok, five in Pattaya, one in Phuket and two in Ayutthaya.

In the pipeline The Group is continuing to expand, with plans to add a new property in Bangkok in 2013 and two new hotels opening in Pattaya in 2014.

Rates: 1,000 baht (US$32) per night on average

Heritage Hotels
Mike D Tuladhar
Managing director
Aakash Tours & Travel

Why Positive feedback from clients is a key factor in our using Heritage Hotels time and again. The boutique hotel operation provides personalised service for both clients and tour operators, which makes the hotels easier to deal with. This is especially helpful in a crisis when the hotel owner can step in to resolve matters promptly.

How it compares Local hotels are more appealing because the personal service and affordable prices are more customer-friendly for both guests and tour operators when it comes to details and service, compared to the bureaucratic system that may exist with international brands.

How it can improve Local brands should continue to focus on their key strengths, which is personalised service, because attention to its customers is what keeps client satisfaction high and makes it easier to solve problems.

Network Heritage Hotels operates five boutique hotels located around Bangkok on Silom, Sathorn and Srinakarin Roads. It recently opened the new H-Residence on Sathorn Road.

In the pipeline It is unable to provide any information on future hotel projects at this time.

From 900-1,400 baht (US$29-45) per night on average

Adjie Wahjono
Operations manager
Aneka Kartika Tours & Travel Services

Why As an inbound operator handling leisure travel, we require hotels that provide at least a clean room with a bathroom, a comfortable bed, television, Wi-Fi and decent breakfast. Amaris Hotel (Santika Indonesia Hotels and Resorts) and Favehotel (Aston International) provide those.

How it compares Amaris and Favehotel have properties in many locations today, compared to Accor’s Formule 1 (Ibis Budget), which is just beginning to grow. We use economy brands because of their locations and the convenience they offer to our clients. It does not really matter whether they are international or home-grown brands.

We don’t use Pop! Hotels (Tauzia Hotel Management) because they provide only morning bites, i.e. tea or coffee, a small packet of rice and condiments, which is not really breakfast.

How it can improve Each brand needs to maintain consistency in terms of products and services. We have seen some hotels with swimming pools, others without, and some even have suites.

Network 13 hotels in Bandung, Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Solo, Surabaya, Bali, Langkawi.

In the pipeline At least 32 more properties have been planned for the period up to 2014.

Rates: Rp340,000-480,000 (US$36-50)

Amaris Hotel
Adjie Wahjono
Operations manager
Aneka Kartika Tours & Travel Services

Why Refer to Favehotel

How it compares Refer to Favehotel

How it can improve Refer to Favehotel

Network Amaris has 22 properties in Jarkarta, Bandung, Bogor, Cirebon, Semarang, Jogjakarta, Bali, Makassar, Banjarmasin, Palangkaraya and Pekanbaru.

In the pipeline Three more hotels are slated to open by the end of the year in Surabaya, Malang and Singapore, while 13 will open in 2013, mostly in Jakarta, Bali, Batam and Palembang.

Rates: Rp320,000 (US$33) per night on average

This article was first published in TTG Asia, October 19, 2012 on page 9. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.

Additional reporting from S Puvaneswary, Chami Jotisalikorn, Rosa Ocampo and Mimi Hudoyo

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