Joining Dusit International from Lanson Place Hospitality Management of Hong Kong, Marc Hediger has been tasked with accelerating the growth of the company around the world.
As senior vice president, development, with Dusit he will be closely involved as the company seeks to bring 50 confirmed pipeline projects to market in the coming years.
Here he speaks to Breaking Travel News about the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Breaking Travel News: You joined Dusit International just a few weeks ago. What is it that attracted to you to the company?
Marc Hediger: Dusit International is renowned for its gracious hospitality and rich Thai heritage which makes it a unique player in the market.
The company may be small compared to other international chains, but this allows it to offer personalised service across all aspects of its operations.
This imbues the company with a family-feel, and there’s an almost tangible sense of pride amongst everyone who works here, which is really nice to experience.
At the same time, there is huge potential which is very attractive.
Following a three-pronged strategy for sustainable and profitable growth – including balance, expansion, and diversification – the company aims to have more than 14,000 keys in operation (basically double its current portfolio) across more than 20 countries by 2023.
And I look forward to being part of making this happen.
BTN: Dusit has dozens of hotel projects in the pipeline as it seeks to more than double in size. Which markets are you most keen to develop and how are these identified?
MH: Good question. At the moment Dusit is making good progress in China, where we currently operate five properties, have 27 in the pipeline, and will open four new hotels this year.
My role is to ensure we enjoy similar success in established and emerging markets globally, with a particular focus on key destinations and regions where we have yet to have a presence, such as Australia, Japan, and Europe.
Ultimately, our aim is to enhance brand presence by introducing new, showcase properties, which highlight our commitment to quality in all aspects of our operations.
BTN: As well as growing the number of properties on offer, Dusit is also expanding the brands in its portfolio. What are the ambitions here?
MH: Dusit’s brand line-up, which covers midscale through to luxury segments, comprises Dusit Thani, Dusit Devarana, dusitD2, and Dusit Princess.
ASAI Hotels is an offshoot, affordable lifestyle brand designed to link millennial-minded travellers with authentic local experiences in vibrant destinations worldwide.
The brand embraces a sustainable, community-focused concept, with each property designed to reflect the culture and heritage of its location through collaborations with local designers, artisans and chefs.
Basically, ASAI Hotels will add an innovative new revenue stream to the company that complements our traditional hospitality offerings and actively responds to the needs and desires of millennial-minded travellers.
Five ASAI properties are already confirmed in the pipeline.
This includes a flagship ASAI hotel in Bangkok; three hotels in Cebu, Philippines; and one hotel in Yangon, Myanmar.
Opening dates are to be confirmed for these properties.
ASAI Hotel’s management team hopes to secure over ten properties in the pipeline by the end of the year across south-east Asia and Japan.
This includes owned and joint venture properties as well as properties under Hotel Management Agreements.
Australia, Europe and Central America are also on the radar for potential projects.
BTN: Is there any scope for an acquisition to accelerate the growth of the company still further?
MH: If the right opportunity presented itself, Dusit would certainly consider this option.
Presently, various options from Australia all the way to London are being evaluated.
In line with our strategy for diversification, Dusit is also actively investing in business outside of hotels.
Recently the company made a strategic investment in NR Instant Produce (for an approximate 26 per cent share in the company), a well-known producer and exporter of ready to cook, ready meals, seasoning powders, dipping sauces, drinks and juices.
With time, Dusit hopes to create a partnership with NRIP to develop a line of Dusit-branded, premium products for local and international consumer markets.
Last year, Dusit also invested in FavStay, a Thai hospitality start-up offering condos and villas for rent in Thailand’s top destinations.
BTN: The renovation of Dusit Thani Bangkok – your flagship property – has been delayed for a year. Can you tell us a little about the revised plans for this hotel and what the renovations will seek to achieve?
MH: One of the reasons the project was delayed was to get the design of the building just right.
This cannot just be another modern building popping up in the Bangkok skyline.
Instead, the new hotel is being considerately designed to celebrate Dusit’s heritage, reflect the present, and anticipate the needs of future guests.
This includes embracing a green concept which reflects the property’s prime location opposite Lumpini Park; creating links to both the MRT and BTS mass transit rail systems; alleviating traffic in the area by providing new infrastructure; and implementing the latest technology to enhance, not detract from, Dusit’s renowned human touch.
Ultimately, Dusit aims to create a new city landmark that boosts the area’s appeal; celebrates Thai culture; enhances and reflects existing historical architecture to blend into the neighbourhood as naturally as possible; augments existing infrastructure; creates new opportunities for local businesses; and elevates the brand’s standing internationally.
Having stood for 48 years as a Bangkok icon, the hotel will once again return as a city landmark.
The hotel as it stands will close on January 5th.
The new hotel is expected to open in 2022.
Dusit International was founded in 1948 by honorary chairperson Thanpuying Chanut Piyaoui, whose ﬁrst hotel was the Princess on Bangkok’s Charoenkrung Road.
Today the company is a leader in hotel management and hospitality education and comprises a unique international portfolio of distinctive hotels and resorts operating under four brands: Dusit Thani, dusitD2, Dusit Princess and Dusit Devarana.
The new Aasi Hotels brand is set to open its first property early next year.
Find out more on the official website.