By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
“For Asia-Pacific, our ambition is to be growing with eight hotel brands to cater to different market segments,” Guy Phillips, senior vice president for development in Asia and Australasia, said yesterday.
“There are many different markets across Asia-Pacific. We will cater the market with the right hotel for the right location and with the right partner,” he said.
Phillips, who has been at Hilton’s regional headquarters in Singapore, said Hilton Worldwide operates 181 properties with 59,304 rooms in 21 markets across Apac, while 303 hotels with 79,297 rooms are under development in the region, including China.
Globally, Hilton boasts 4,900 hotels in 104 markets under 14 brands, with the great majority in North America.
“We have been registering very strong growth here in Asia-Pacific. The average rate of growth in terms of unit expansion is 6.6 per cent globally.
“However, in Asia-Pacific, the growth rate in number of hotels is over 15 per cent,” he said.
The key drivers of growth in Apac include the emergence and growth of the middle class over 10 years, particularly in Indonesia and China, feeling fuelling the need for new hotel products around the region.
The emergence of low-cost carriers and the expansion of other carrier fleets has improved connectivity in the region, while there has been an increase in domestic travellers for both business and leisure.
Hilton’s global ambition and strategy are to serve individual customers wherever and for whatever purpose they travel.
The eight brands for Apac are Waldorf Astoria and Conrad, which are positioned as luxury hotel brands; Canopy, which is a lifestyle hotel; Hilton for upper upscale; Curio, which is a collection hotel brand; DoubleTree for upscale; Hilton Garden Inn for mid-market; and Hampton for midscale.
Hilton in January last year launched a new, younger-oriented brand called “Tru” that has seen 179 projects under development in North America alone in the first 14 months.
“This is growing to have a fantastic potential to bring this brand into Asia in the coming years. Thailand is also a key market place to launch this brand,” he said.
Tru is positioned in the economy space segment. It is all about connectivity and engagement. They will have an interactive area in the lobby where people can socialise, work, eat and drink.
Hilton has been a well-known brand in Thailand for over 30 years. Thailand continues to grow and the company will continue to expand its presence in this promising market.
Hilton Worldwide counts two Hiltons in Bangkok and one each in Hua Hin, Pattaya and Phuket, two Conrads in Bangkok and Samui, and one DoubleTree in Bangkok.
The 300-room Hilton Patong Resort is under development in Phuket at Kalim Beach in Patong district, and is scheduled to open around 2019.
The first Waldorf Astoria in Southeast Asia will open on Ratchadamri Road in downtown Bangkok in the beginning of next year with 170 guestrooms, including 34 suites.
Christian Pucher, director of development in Asia, who is a market specialist for Thailand and the Mekong region, said that in the Mekong region, Hilton has a presence in Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We are also in discussions with several properties in Laos and Cambodia,” he said.
Thailand in particular has come up with exciting opportunities.
“Thailand has great weather, less seasonal. Local airports continue to expand to accommodate more tourist arrivals. New tourist destinations are arising,” he said.
The Thai government has provided tax incentives to stimulate domestic tourism. It also developed special economic zones across the country, especially in the North and Northeast, which would lead to rapid urbanisation and regional appeals.
The development of the Eastern Seaboard project, including the upgrading of the U-Tapao naval airbase to a commercial airport, will help promote leisure and business tourism in the area, he added.