As staycation season heats up in Singapore, so have efforts by hotel chains to turn locals into loyal, repeat guests.
December is set to be prime time for staycations as Singaporeans look to satisfy their appetite for year-end holidays at home. The government is also handing out tourism vouchers come December, further spurring demand for local hotels.
There has been chatter that some hotels were already booked out for December from as early as September - and this was confirmed after Travel Weekly Asia spoke with several hospitality names.
Far East Hospitality (FEH), for instance, shared that Amoy has been fully booked for December. “Our other properties open for staycations such as Orchard Rendezvous Hotel and The Barracks Hotel are seeing occupancy averaging at 40% to 60%,” the spokesperson said.
“Due to social distancing regulations, hygiene and safety protocols, we have chosen to operate at 50% of our capacity when staycations were first allowed. We gradually [allowed] for more bookings and have seen a steady increase in this quarter,” the spokesperson added.
FEH expects booking volume will continue to increase once the Singapore Tourism Board releases more information on how to redeem the tourism vouchers.
Both Grand Hyatt Singapore and Andaz Singapore, under the Hyatt Group, are also already "seeing steady local interest and demand, particularly as a result of our ongoing World of Hyatt offers," said Carina Chorengel, senior vice president - commercial, Asia Pacific.
Direct booking drive
Another trend is consumers' shift towards direct bookings, in line with an aggressive loyalty programme push.
At FEH, OTAs versus direct website bookings have shifted more than 25% towards the latter this staycation season. The group is offering 12% to guests who sign up to be members, bringing rates down to a level that is “comparable or better than what's offered by OTAs", the group's spokesperson told Travel Weekly Asia.
One other reason could be exclusive hotel package inclusions that are not available through other channels.
"Many local staycationers are looking for experiential packages, which are only available through direct bookings. For example, our Family First Staycation is designed for families looking for a getaway in the heart of the city and includes breakfast for two adults and two children, in-room children amenities such as mini bathrobes and slippers, a kids’ teepee, in-room movie night from our DVD library with popcorn and milkshakes and more," said Gerrit Chng-Luchau, director of sales and marketing, InterContinental Singapore (IHG).
To up their game further, IHG is also running a loyalty points promotion, where guests can enjoy double the points accrual with every stay made through IHG Rewards Club for stays from 1 October to 15 December, 2020.
Notably, Ascott recently launched several loyalty initiatives, among which is an elite status match programme. Those who are able to show proof of an elite membership status in a loyalty programme with other hospitality groups, and a stay with these other groups within the last 18 months, will enjoy a matching elite membership status of either Silver, Gold or Platinum status with Ascott Star Rewards (ASR).
For example, a Silver member with other hospitality groups can directly enjoy a Silver status with ASR, instead of having to start from the entry ASR membership tier of Classic and spending S$1,000 (US$1,359) to get to Silver status, explained Tan Bee Leng, managing director, brand & marketing at Ascott.
The company will also consider relevant loyalty programmes by other airlines or online travel booking sites for status matching.
ASR's elevated membership status and its privileges will be valid for a year, and new members will be required to meet the minimum spend to retain their membership status in the next year.
In addition, Ascott is giving 2,000 ASR bonus points to members for every night’s stay at an ASR participating property. ASR members can also receive 1,000 more points with every two successful referrals and an additional 1,000 points when their two referrals recommend two other persons each. The promotion is valid for bookings from now until 31 October 2020 and for stays until 30 November 2020.
At the time of writing, 90% of bookings coming through the Ascott website are made directly by ASR members, Tan shared.
While homegrown chains work to drive direct bookings and build loyalty among Singaporeans, international hotel groups are likewise not letting up.
In October, Hyatt launched the World of Hyatt “Bonus Journeys” global promotion which allows members to earn triple points across all Hyatt locations worldwide from 1 October 2020 through 4 January 2021. “As anticipated, the launch of our new World of Hyatt offers in particular is helping to drive more direct channel bookings,” Chorengel said.
At the same time, she pointed out that intermediaries including OTAs and travel agents remain important distribution partners.
“We understand the value they bring to our organisation as well as to their customers. We recognise that consumers have different needs when they make travel decisions, and our distribution partners can reach and cater to our guests with services and customised itineraries to complement what Hyatt has to offer. We remain committed to closely collaborating with our distribution partners, whether luxury advisors, OTAs, travel agents, or destination management companies.”