Insight - Preparing for better times

  • Business
  • Monday, 13 Jul 2020

Top sellers at Shangrila Hotel Kuala Lumpur (pic) include the nasi lemak chicken, beef bungkus, mango kerabu and sandwiches at its Lemon Garden restaurant, while the bento box from the Zipangu restaurant and the signature Hong Kong style roast duck at Shang Palace, were favourites.

THE hotel and tour sectors have been severely impacted by the coronavirus, but companies are not giving up on their future prospects.

Positioning for better times are Shangri-La Hotel Malaysia and travel technology group Parlo, which are drawing up strategies to prepare for the further opening up of borders and economies.

With the current focus on domestic tourism, Shangri-La Hotel Malaysia has come up with short, “staycation” packages and it has seen an uptick in bookings.

It has also diversified into takeaways and deliveries, for which sales have increased significantly, at all its hotels in Malaysia, extending its services to the local communities that are not staying at its hotels.

Parlo group, which has seen a 10% increase in bookings for international travel packages since domestic tourism was allowed, is lining up sales agents to boost the number of bookings.

From late March to mid-June, Shangri-La Hotel Malaysia had seen an average increase of 70% in revenue from takeaways and deliveries.

Top sellers at Shangrila Hotel Kuala Lumpur (pic) include the nasi lemak chicken, beef bungkus, mango kerabu and sandwiches at its Lemon Garden restaurant, while the bento box from the Zipangu restaurant and the signature Hong Kong style roast duck at Shang Palace, were favourites.

Dishes ranged from RM8 to RM240, with free delivery within a five km radius; beyond that, fees averaged RM18 to RM38.

To increase its local reach, the distribution network was expanded through and partnerships with home delivery companies.

New products were also designed, such as the Ifta Raya menu at Lemon Garden.

“Covid-19 gave us the opportunity to reflect, diversify and drive innovation, ’’ said Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur general manager Gonzalo Duarte Silva.

The numbers for its domestic accommodation packages are expected to increase once leisure facilities such as the sauna and whirlpool are allowed to reopen; the swimming pool and health club are already reopened.

Offering guest experiences suited to the residents of Kuala Lumpur, its Rediscover Kuala Lumpur staycation package includes breakfast for two, a late check-out, a hotel credit and 20% off food and beverages.

As part of the increased usage of advanced technology in safety and hygiene, housekeeping teams in Shangri-La hotels across South-East Asia will be using UV lights and electrostatic spray devices to clean as well as inspect all surfaces and high-touch points.

Contactless interactions through QR codes and digital payments helps to prevent contamination while increasing the efficiency of the ordering process.

“We have tripled our hygiene and safety measures as part of our Shangri-La Cares commitment and our efforts to continue redefining hospitality standards, ’’ said Silva.

To remain resilient in this pandemic, the priority is to give guests peace of mind that they are in safe hands at Shangri-La.

Enhanced safety and health protocols are laid down for guests upon arrival, at public spaces, guest rooms, restaurants and recreational facilities as well as for employees who have undergone training with Diversey, a leading global hygiene solutions provider.

At Parlo group, there is increased response from sales agents or advocates; of the estimated 10% increase in bookings, about 30% to 40% of those who booked have shown interest to be advocates who will later sell the packages to others.

This is on top of the 1,000 advocates from 500 previously; there are plans to further increase the number of advocates on its business-to-consumer travel programme Buddy Up.

With the trend in working from home, Buddy Up allows regular customers who want to be advocates, to log in, buy the products and perform the sales themselves.

Through Buddy Up, the group will be conducting another round of webinar to garner sales for the recently recruited advocates, in preparation for the reopening of borders.

Recruited advocates who can be full time or part time, can access Parlo group’s T-Broker Marketplace cloud-based system, that includes travel suppliers and distributors in a regional set-up.

A veriety of partners on the T-broker Marketplace platform offer choices for products and affordable pricing from KLOOK, a one-stop for travellers, to Bedsonline, a booking engine for travel agents.

The group also aims to increase revenue from products for free independent travellers, featuring ala carte items especially for younger travellers who prefer to travel alone.

Newer packages and products will be launched when borders are officially reopened.

“Business will start to pick up as soon as international borders are reopened; it may not be an instant peak as consumers need time to recover economically and we need to see a noticeable control in Covid-19 cases, ’’ said Parlo group CEO Dani Yap.

In the past two years, popular tour packages included those to Europe, China, Korea, Japan and especially the Arctic Circle, with Parlo’s experience in spotting ‘the right time’ to see the Northern Lights.

Currently, the group gets 70% of its revenue from the leisure sector, and 30% from corporate travels.

Parlo group has been approached by potential investors especially regarding its technology roadmap.

”With the upcoming pipeline, our future looks promising; we plan to double down on our technological efforts to propel our business across borders, ’’ said Yap.

While focussing on travel packages and the on-boarding of more travel suppliers to increase its product offerings, Parlo will roll out its platforms such as T-broker Marketplace to other countries by appointing distributors.

A webinar with prospective agents in various countries is planned for next month, starting with Asean and Asia Pacific countries to position Parlo group as a regional set-up by early next year.

It looks like there is no stopping for Shangri-La Hotel Malaysia and Parlo group, as they forge ahead with their plans to prepare for better times.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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