Singapore - Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) is launching a new brand here in Singapore this year, M Social, to attract a bigger customer base.
The new brand, aimed at contemporary travellers, will be rolled out in other markets such as Auckland and Seoul within the next one to two years, using the Singapore property as a testbed.
Due to open between end-April and early May, the 293-room hotel - which is part of the development that houses the Up@Robertson Quay residences - will have nearly 100 loft-style rooms and 200 standard rooms. The average room size is around 20 sq m, while the cost of the hotel project is over S$200,000 per key.
"It's called M Social because it's focused on getting people together," said Paul James, senior vice-president (global marketing and branding), adding that the location in a residential area lends greater vibrancy which should appeal to travellers. In addition, the design, service culture and programming will play a part in differentiating the brand, he stressed. French designer Phillipe Starck has been roped in to design the interiors.
The hotel will also leverage technology for seamless service, such as with automated check-in options and electronic ordering in the F&B establishment.
"If we get this (concept) right, there will a percentage of Millennium & Copthorne loyalty that will move to (M Social) but it should bring a new customer in," he said. "It's getting more customers into the hotel who see a value in the kind of hotel we're offering."
Situated by the Singapore River, the new-build hotel should largely attract the leisure market given its location near Robertson Quay, but he reckons that there will also be a "good, strong underlayer of corporate" travellers.
Given the backdrop of flat tourist arrivals last year and additional supply coming into the market this year, MHR is banking on its global presence to draw customers to its new property.
For the 10-month period spanning January to October last year, visitor arrivals to Singapore were virtually flat, hitting 12.6 million visitors. Full- year figures have yet to be released.
Mr James believes that forging strong relationships with its customers, as well as its global reach, will help to balance out volatility in individual markets. "Building that relationship with Chinese, American, European travellers as part of a global group helps offset some of that, " he said. "If we can play to our strength and access those markets where we have power, then we can keep ahead of the competition - which is the best thing to do in a downturn."
CDL - which is a subsidiary of Hong Leong Group - is the majority stakeholder of MHR. The Hong Leong Group has some 3,920 rooms in Singapore (including M Social hotel).
Despite easing GDP growth in China, Mr James singled out the market as one of potential growth, especially where outbound travel is concerned. For instance, Asian travellers have been known to prop up demand in European markets during the Northern Winter, when domestic demand wanes.
He said: "Fundamentally, (China) is a massive market that is now able to travel. Over the next five years - and we're building hotels with 20-year life-cycles - this is the biggest, fastest-growing outbound market in the world."
This article was first published on January 14, 2016.
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