As the Malaysian tourism market continues to show steady growth of 5 – 6% per annum, the country expects to be welcoming more than 31.7 million tourists by the end of 2015, further buoyed by a new low cost carrier terminal set to open in 2013.
Seeking to capture some of those travellers, the award winning Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport Hotel – with average occupancy levels of 85% - will be undertaking a major renovation next year that will result in a fresh look and feel for all its guest rooms.
Mr Hans Winsnes, General Manager of the Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Hotel speaks to BTN about his cautious optimism for 2012 and why so many guests return to the Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur.
BTN: How have your occupancy levels been for 2011 and how are forward bookings?
HW: We expect to close the year with almost 85% effective occupancy with an overall turnover of RM75 million. Looking forward we are cautiously optimistic and are of course weary of the possible impact of the current international economic climate. However in general we foresee the asian region to continue its overall growth seen over the past years and we will certainly join the ‘ride’.
BTN: What differentiates the Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport Hotel from its competitors?
HW: Location, great convenience and consistency in guest service delivery are imperative and play a vital role. This is reflected in a 35% repeat business level. What’s so important for our valued repeat guests is that we know them well, as soon as their reservation is in our reservation system, we know what their preferences are, so that we can deliver based on their individual expectations.
We are also fortunate that we are supported extremely well by Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts and our Owners, Malaysia Airports that understand our special needs of an airport hotel operation that has a consistently high activity level. We constantly upgrade our processes, systems and procedures to ensure that we are up to par with technology supporting superior guest experiences. We have also over the last few years undertaken implementation of some remarkable information technology tools that have assisted us in being very different.
BTN: What do today’s travellers typically demand from an airport hotel experience? How do you ensure that you are able to meet these expectations?
HW: These days, guests expect quick, seamless and efficient services and the opportunity to make choices. With the wide selection of hotels available at many different pricing levels, guests expect the best in service and product availability. Quick turnaround and response on all aspects of operation from booking to departure is imperative. All the conveniences and needs of today’s discerning travellers must be available and we pride ourselves of making such available through our innovative product and service offerings.
BTN: What new products and developments can we expect to see at the property in coming months?
HW: The hotel is scheduled for a major room renovation which we have been planning for some time. We are aiming to give the rooms a whole new look incorporating 21st century facilities this is to be carried out in stages and we foresee that this will take us up to 9 months to complete.
Information technology plays an important role. Early this year, we launched the patented VIPSeat™ Restaurant system solution by Tiare Technology using Apple iPad tablets as menus. We are the first hotel in Asia to implement their system. This allows restaurant patrons easily view and place orders directly from their table to order food, wine and cocktails by using an Apple iPad tablet.
The hotel has also installed the INNCOM Guestroom Ambiance Control System - a centrally monitored and controlled system that integrates with the Hotel’s property management system to control guestrooms ventilation, guestroom occupancy monitoring and doorbell/do-not-disturb/make-up-room annunciation. This allow for a far superior comfort level and the new fan-cooling units modulating valve that controls the air conditioning and electricity provides for a much better energy management assisting environmental efforts and energy efficiencies..
A state of the art key card operating security system from VingCard is also in place allowing an extremely convenient and efficient security tracking enhancing our guest’s experience via monitoring through the system that allows our associates to deliver an unsurpassed service level.
The above is just some of the technology tools used at the hotel allowing operational efficiencies in order to better deliver the high-quality amenities and service excellence that our guests expect.
BTN: What are the main challenges you are currently facing and how are you tackling these?
HW: The biggest challenges we have are manpower recruitment and over supply of hotels within this area. Due to the location of the hotel, which is located 50 km away from Kuala Lumpur, it is difficult to attract manpower. Potential employees are usually looking for job opportunities in Kuala Lumpur. In this case we are the only hotel in Malaysia operating on a fixed remunerations scheme providing income security. We also provide accommodation assistance and travel allowance which becomes part of their employment benefits. Pick-up and drop-off arrangements during early and night shift is also taken care of by the hotel.
BTN: Are there any other markets (eg. Leisure travellers, adventure travellers) that you are you looking to tap into and how will you do this?
HW: Two markets that we are looking at penetrating are: MICE and wedding market where we offer attractive packages and value added benefits. Because of our location at the airport, we are seen to be in a convenient location for companies with regional offices all over Asia. Guests choose us to hold their meetings in our hotel simply because this enables delegates to fly in, hold their meeting at our hotel and fly off the next day. Hassle-free with no traffic woos. The hotel is located within the vicinity of the airport and connected to the airport via a sky-bridge link. What’s unique about the hotel is that we are able to offer meet and greet services to first time visitors in the country by meeting up with them as soon as they step out from the plane provided that flight information is given to the hotel upon reservation.
Our check-in counter (near baggage carousel F) located at the international arrival hall of the airport is located in a convenient location enabling check-in procedures to be done while the guests waits for their baggage to arrive. In this case, the guest does not have to check-in at the hotel reception.
The hotel also provides complimentary 24 hours buggy service to and from the airport via a skybridge. This is located at level 2 of the main terminal building.
BTN: How are visitor figures for Kuala Lumpur and what are your predictions for travel to the destination over the next few years?
HW: There’s a forecast of 5% increase in tourist arrivals in 2011 to reach 25.84mn. Beyond 2011, we believe the Malaysian tourism market can continue to show steady growth of 5-6% per annum and we forecast to be the country to be welcoming more than 31.7mn tourists by the end of 2015.
The current low cost carrier terminal (LCCT) will be closed once the new KLIA 2 opens in early 2013, hence attracting more airlines. The new LCCT is targeted to attract 45 million low cost passengers therefore boosting the tourism sector in the country.).
BTN: What does it mean be named Asia’s Leading Airport Hotel for the third time by the World Travel Awards?
HW: This is an important attribute to our unwavering commitment to service excellence and we are extremely proud and delighted to receive such recognition for the third time. We will continue to strive for these accolades by continuously delivering on consistence in service to our guest. Guest feedback is a key indicator of our service standards and we will always listen to our customers and enhance our services to exceed their expectations. Our vision is to be consistently recognized as the ‘best’ airport hotel by our 4 stakeholders, namely guests, associates, owners and community.
BTN: What commercial benefits, if any, has this title (Asia’s Leading Airport Hotel) brought to the property?
HW: This is basically brand awareness and as such it is very difficult to ascertain a value. We have been consistently building our brand over the years through international awards that we won since the opening of the hotel. Namely, Asia’s Leading Airport Hotel, 3 times by World Travel Awards, World’s Leading Airport Hotel, 2 times by World Travel Awards, Global Luxury Airport Hotel, 2 times by World Luxury Hotel Awards, Best Brands in Airport Hotels by the Brandlaureate Awards, 3 times and Best Airport Hotel in Asia by Business Asia Magazine, 7 times.