Hotels woo locals with lavish hotels and parties

 Hotels woo locals with lavish hotels and parties

Under dazzling chandeliers, models in wedding gowns walked down the aisle decorated with spring-inspired flower arrangements, as Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas marked the reopening of its grand ballroom last month with an extravagant wedding show.

Inviting guests with hotel memberships and would-be newlyweds, the hotel unveiled the redesigned banquet hall and promotion deals.

"Weddings are considered the epitome of hotel services," said Grace Kang, banquet sales manager at Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas.

"It's the most important segment in the hotel business and sets the standard for a hotel that customers can reference in their choice of hotels," she said.

At her hotel, weddings make up 38 per cent of banquet sales, followed by corporate functions (37 per cent) and conventions (25 per cent). The hotel plans to increase its wedding-related banquet sales to 50 per cent.

Grand InterContinental is not the only hotel in Korea that has set its eyes on the wedding business.

Faced with dwindling room occupancy and increasing competition, luxury hotels are turning to local customers who are willing to splurge on weddings, babies' first birthday parties and other private celebrations.

Top-tier hotels are faced with unprecedented challenges.

The number of rooms in Seoul is expected to increase from 31,712 as of July 2014 to 52,093 in 2016 if all hotel projects are conducted as planned, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Some experts say supply may exceed room demand, based on a government projection of tourist arrivals and their choice of accommodation.

Room occupancy rates have been falling as more foreign tourists, especially Chinese, who have emerged as the largest group of travelers in Korea, weigh an ever-broadening range of affordable accommodation options.

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