Dipping into experiences

Hotels in Singapore are jumping on the tours and activities bandwagon, seeing opportunities to lure guests and connect with them on a deeper level

Hotels in Singapore are diversifying their portfolio of offerings and services by adding day tours and activities, with several joining hands with local tour operators and booking platforms.

This comes as Singapore’s occupancy levels reportedly hit an all-time high in 2018, the first since 2012. According to data from STR Global, average occupancy rate rose by 3.1 per cent from 2017’s numbers to 83.7 per cent in 2018; average daily rate by 0.7 per cent to S$271.49 (US$199.80); and revPAR by 3.8 per cent to S$227.35.

Grand Copthorne Waterfront offers tours of its Tiong Bahru neighbourhood

Grand Copthorne Waterfront (GCW), for instance, launched a year-long campaign, Live Like a Local, offering hotel guests weekly neighbourhood tours and monthly cultural activities. These include a half-day tour with Tour East through one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, Tiong Bahru, and dumpling making workshops. GCW and Tour East have also partnered and built a Premium Tour Lounge on the hotel’s third floor.

Roping in tours into hotel offerings is an “innovative approach” in the face of Singapore’s competitive hospitality landscape and technological disruption, which is “threatening the viability of the traditional hospitality model”, opined Gilbert Ong, director of marketing and communications for Millennium Hotels and Resorts, the operator of GCW.

He added the rise of FITs and demand for smaller group tours have spurred “a more intimate, immersive, meaningful and authentic experience”.

Other hotels like Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa leverage the storied past of the compound it occupies to offer a permanent tour in the Amara Heritage Trail, which takes guests on a walk through old soldier quarters and Sentosa’s World War II air raid shelters on the hotel’s grounds.

Six Senses Maxwell, on the other hand, has paired with Jane’s Singapore Tours to bring guests through locales such as MacRitchie, Botanic Gardens and the Civic District. Similarly, sister property Six Senses Duxton offers local heritage tours, complimentary traditional Chinese medicine consultations and tea appreciation sessions.

In the case of Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts, the luxury hotel group entered into a total product and marketing partnership with booking platform Klook. Guests at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore can now book experiences offered by Klook on a tablet with the Klook Concierge service. Both companies are set to jointly launch various marketing initiatives and unique experiences to Shangri-La on the platform.

Such a move has also helped to shine light on lesser-known experiences possible in Singapore’s tours, said Anita Ngai, chief revenue officer, Klook.

She elaborated: “Foreign guests know the top sights and activities in Singapore, such as Universal Studios and the Singapore Zoo, however, there are always more interesting and unique activities that deserve more exposure.”

As this movement burgeons, it may spark further collaborations between hotels and local tour providers. Six Senses Singapore’s general manager Murray Aitken and GCW’s Ong have indicated that this is a possible path they would take, in a bid to promote the local tourism sector while delivering unforgettable guest experiences.

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