Although the new Dao by Dorsett, launched earlier this year by Dorsett Hospitality International, is currently at its infancy stage of expansion globally, the brand is confident that its aparthotel offering is the most resilient model of hotels moving forward.
Roy Liang, general manager at Dao by Dorsett AMTD Singapore and vice president of operations, Dao by Dorsett, shared: “The hybrid system of an aparthotel is a very flexible model that can ride the waves of an uncertain economy. Hotels are generally one-dimensional, travellers check in, sleep, and leave. But after Covid-19, we realised there’s a higher demand for products which are more flexible.”
For instance, during the pandemic, Asia’s first Dao by Dorsett – a conversion from Oakwood Premier AMTD Singapore – did not become a quarantine hotel. In fact, occupancy stood at around 50 per cent during the pandemic due to its aparthotel business model, having shifted its focus from transient business travellers to inbound expats instead.
“With the flexibility of being able to switch between long and short stays, the property is poised to attract the best of both worlds. This helps us to bridge the gaps either on occupancy or Average Daily Rate within a much shorter time, which has led us to be the market leader in terms of revenue per available room (RevPAR) year to date, as reflected in our STR reports. Our competitor set includes a mix of five-star hotels and serviced apartments (with hotel licenses) within the vicinity,” he elaborated.
Due to its success, the Dao by Dorsett AMTD Singapore is being used as the “blueprint” for future Dao by Dorsetts, and Liang is working with his team to fine-tune and standardise the branding, services and offerings. In addition to the Singapore property, a 74-key West London property is already in operation, with another London property to follow in 1Q2023.
Under Dao by Dorsett’s three brand values – Social, Custom-Fit, and Harmonious – the Singapore property features collaborations across the board with local companies such as fresh produce supplier Avo & Co, as well as The Botanist and Her Thieves for a custom-built plant library, and toiletries from vegan-friendly and sustainable brand Abyssian.
Liang pointed out: “The story and branding of Abyssian are very close to what Dao by Dorsett represents, even though it is not a big amenities company. It started out as a hair care company, but they have invested in R&D to develop shower gel products and conditioners. We are the first hotel company to use their products, which will be rolled out to our London hotels, and future Dao by Dorsetts.”
Although certain items or services are unable to be replicated, for instance, providing fresh produce boxes at the Dao by Dorsett West London, Liang indicated that “property offerings will definitely relate to our core values”, which means guests can expect all Dao by Dorsetts to take a hyper-local approach regardless of its location.
“The purpose of us supplying items from local partners is (reflective) of our brand value ‘social’, where the guest is supposed to integrate with the community and contribute back to the community as much as possible. By supporting local small businesses, we are also helping young entrepreneurs find their footing in society.”
Once other systems are in place, a Dorsett Loyalty Programme under Dorsett Hospitality International will also be implemented for Dao by Dorsetts.
For now, Liang shared that the focus will be standardisation of the product offering, as well as “conversions of Dorsett-owned properties” in China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia to Dao by Dorsetts.
“Once we have stabilised our operations, we will actively look into proposing management agreements with hotel owners,” Liang said.
A challenge that Liang faces is that selling an aparthotel is not as straightforward as selling a pure hotel or pure service apartment, because he needs to have a “fine balance” in knowing the best percentage that should be allocated to long stays and short stays.
“This changes every month, and the booking period for long stays and short stays is also different,” he shared. “We aspire to have the best balance of RevPar and prove that having the flexibility of long and short stay guests allows us to compete effectively in the market.”
“Fortunately, we are not tied down by a cookie-cutter approach. We have the resources to make every Dao by Dorsett more competitive, especially with a smaller inventory. At the end of the day, it’s the service you provide to guests, not so much the hotel or room product. If guests find that the value versus the price they pay is better, they will choose to stay,” he concluded.