Themed staycations a hot solution for travel-starved Singaporeans

As competition for staycationers in Singapore heats up, hotels are roping in well-known lifestyle brands or leveraging popular festivals to create thematic accommodation experiences.

Thematic staycations that have hit the market include experiences tied up with Häagen-Dazs and McDonalds, where guests can also take home not-for-sale memorabilia and unique merchandise from their stay.

Oakwood Premier AMTD Singapore’s McDonald’s staycation deals with Klook were sold out within an hour

Hoteliers told TTG Asia that such themed staycations are well-received by travel-starved Singapore residents, as they offer an alternative type of entertainment in the current pandemic.

Roy Liang, general manager of Oakwood Premier AMTD Singapore, recalled how the property’s McDonald’s staycation deals, created in partnership with Klook and launched earlier in April 2021, were sold out within the first hour.

Fifty studios and apartments were allocated for each of three reservation windows, and the public interest was “immense”, said Liang.

Guests had a choice of a night’s stay in a Studio Deluxe Room, or a two-bedroom apartment for families. Guests were given exclusive McDonald’s merchandise as well as food vouchers.

More recently, Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG) launched the Stay, Hide and Seek with Otah & Friends staycation package in partnership with KKday. Cinn Tan, chief sales and marketing officer of the hotel company said response was “especially boisterous” during the school holidays and National Day weekend in August.

Otah & Friends is a popular local family entertainment brand featuring characters inspired by Singapore’s wildlife, such as otters, hornbills, and wild boars.

Guests can collect limited-edition Otah plush toys dressed in traditional costumes of Singapore, take home a welcome pack that includes a pair of Otah & Friends cushions, and join a hide-and-seek game in the guestroom to uncover hidden snacks using a clue kit provided.

Fans of Häagen-Dazs’ icy treats benefitted from a themed staycation at two Shangri-La hotels in Singapore. The spokesperson for Shangri-La Group said interest in the packages were unaffected by social gathering restrictions that were imposed a week after the campaign launch.

By the end of this month, Andaz Singapore will roll out a Halloween themed package, which includes spooky treats and mystical experiences such as a tarot reading session, put together with local bookstore and café The Moon, shared the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, Federica Brugnara.

When it comes to themed staycations, both Tan and Liang highlighted the strength of social media as a powerful driving force.

Limited edition memorabilia offered by Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s Otah & Friends staycation package in partnership with KKday drew character fans

“In the case of Otah & Friends and LINE, these brands have great fan bases. Limited edition memorabilia are also a big draw for many. They give our guests something tangible to take home and remember the good times by,” commented Tan.

Liang added: “Such items (like the not-for-sale McDonald’s loungewear) make for great Instagram-worthy shots and have driven a domino effect among people who want to be seen with the latest trends in the market or get their hands on these items.”

More ideas in the pipeline
Hoteliers are not about to put the brakes on thematic staycations, even as Singapore gradually lifts travel restrictions. In fact, plans are underway for even more themed offerings.

The Shangri-La Group spokesperson said the properties are “exploring more themed staycations with complementary brands”, following the “encouraging response and buzz” brought on by the Häagen-Dazs tie-up.

Tan shared that PPHG has just launched an afternoon tea-themed staycation. The Tea-cation Relaxation comprises a stay at a participating hotel, and includes a decadent and unique afternoon tea crafted by the hotel. At Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, for instance, Tea-cation Relaxation takes garden picnics to the next level with a nature-inspired set enlivened with herbs, edible flowers and vegetables freshly picked from the hotel’s urban farm.

In tandem with themed staycations, PPHG has also rolled out other promotions such as workcation day passes, dining credits, and staycations that utilise the SingaporeRediscovers vouchers.

“We are also working with premium apothecary Appelles to develop sustainability-themed initiatives and offerings for guests in Singapore. We look forward to announcing more details later this year,” she said.

Over at Oakwood Premier AMTD Singapore, a Bike & Chill package was newly launched. It builds on the hotel’s proximity to Marina Bay and Coastal Park Connector, and offers an overnight accommodation, dining credit or one-way bike transfer, and partner vouchers.

Liang is on the lookout for more of such collaborations.

When asked if staycation demand would falter as overseas travel is possible once more through the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL), Tan expressed confidence that it would not.

“We believe that for 1H2022, local staycations will continue to be in demand because there is still some consumer wariness surrounding the VTLs – factors such as paying for Covid-19 testing, flight fares, and overall uncertainty about hygiene and safety may hamper demand for vaccinated travel,” she explained.

This sentiment is echoed by Brugnara, who agreed that regardless of whether its for “financial or safety reasons”, there are individuals who are “wary of international travel” and “choose to exercise caution when it comes to holiday plans”.

She is certain that staycations will remain a great option for a local holiday, as the hotel industry here has built up a reputation over the past two years as a “safe, hygienic, and trustworthy choice”.

Liang posited: “There are two camps – one is ready to travel despite costs and lowered risks, while the other prefers to wait and see, patiently holding out for the opportune time to kickstart travels without having to risk their health.

“The latter are the people we hope to reach out to, as they are more likely to continue with staycations for vacations (for the time-being).”

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