AS PART of its plans to double in size over five years, Thailand-based Minor Hotel Group is making a strong push for its Anantara, Avani and Oaks brands in Asia as well as beefing up its focus on corporate and MICE business.
China is a big part of its growth story – both for inbound and outbound, Michael Marshall, senior vice president, commercial operations, Minor Hotel Group, told TTG Asia e-Daily.
“We have six projects in China (for core brand Anantara), with the first two opening this year in Sanya and Xishuangbanna,” he said, adding the company was also in the midst of setting up a sales office in China to tap outgoing traffic.
Minor has also established sales presence in India, Russia and the UAE this year, while it intends to expand its Singapore office.
“We’re increasing our sales network to be able to focus on the corporate market and MICE,” said Marshall.
He pointed out that the company had recently set up the systems needed to participate in RFPs, launched a new booking engine and upgraded its website. Its hotels are now directly bookable through GDSs, using the Global Hotel Alliance code.
In the same vein, a dedicated MICE programme Discover the Art of a Perfect Meeting has been rolled out, with the three Anantaras in Bangkok as well as Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi especially suited for meetings and incentives, Marshall said.
MICE business is also an interest for Minor’s more contemporary Avani brand, which is a tier below Anantara. With already two properties in Sri Lanka, rebranding of Golden Palm Tree in Malaysia to Avani Sepang Goldcoast is underway, which will be ready by 2Q2013.
“It has a big meeting room that can hold up to 1,200 people, so it can be used for weddings, conferences and retreats. We’re looking at China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and also Malaysian guests,” said Marshall.
With currently around 80 hotels (some 40 under Oaks, 20 under Anantara and three under Avani), Minor is about to enter Laos and Cambodia as new destinations, while further expansion opportunities are being explored in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Marshall explained that the company was looking at building up clusters with its complementary brands. Having acquired Oaks’ serviced apartment business in Australia last year, Minor has had a relook at the brand to prepare it for expansion within Asia.
The first Oaks outside of Australia recently opened in Thailand in the same complex as Anantara Bangkok Sathorn, while an Oaks will come up just a hop away from Anantara Sanya. This means that guests can enjoy shared facilities in some cases, while sales/marketing and operations will also be easily executed.
“(We’re becoming) more international, but the Thai essence will always be there…Thailand is still going to be a very strong platform for us, and we will definitely get more properties in Thailand,” said Marshall.