Boost from bloggers for Novotel Century
Strong competition prompted the four-star Novotel Century hotel in Wan Chai to take an offbeat approach to entice mainland guests, according to its general manager, Jerome Stubert.
Stubert last month invited 10 mainland travel bloggers to stay at the 516-room hotel, and then showed them around Hong Kong with the aim of getting them to write about the visit on their blogs and hopefully attract more mainland visitors to the hotel.
'Consumers place more trust in the opinions of other consumers than what we might say,' he said. 'The internet is a very important medium in the hotel business.'
The bloggers wrote about their travel experiences after the tour and had generated about 170,000 page-views within the past six weeks, Stubert said.
The Novotel Century, which debuted 20 years ago, faces rising competition as 3,000 new hotel rooms, or a 5 per cent increase, are due to come onto the market next year. Stubert said the hotel was seeking to attract more visitors from South Korea as a new source of growth and added that the majority of Novotel Century hotel's guests were business travellers from Southeast Asia and the mainland.
The hotel had yet to note any marked fall in travellers from the European Union and the United States on the back of worsening economic and financial conditions. Hong Kong Hotels Association executive director James Lu Shien-hwai said he had not seen any sign of a slowdown in demand for tourist beds in the city as a result of Europe's sovereign debt crisis and the sluggish US economy. 'The impact of the crisis may filter through in the second half of next year,' Lu said.
In the past two months, occupancy rates at three-star hotels were above 90 per cent, four-star hotels above 85 per cent and five-star hotels 80 per cent as Southeast Asian travellers continued to pour into the city.
'I have in the past few days looked for 20 guest rooms at a four-star hotel for the first week of December, but in vain,' Lu said. 'Demand is so brisk that so far not one hotel can offer the number of rooms I need.'
Lu said local hoteliers were concerned about the impact of cost inflation. He said the industry saw food costs rise 10 to 20 per cent this year and wages were on average 3 to 5 per cent higher. 'We bank on more businesses, especially from the mainland, to offset cost inflation.'
Hong Kong's tourism and hospitality sector has so far upheld its contribution to the economy thanks to a strong inflow of mainland visitors. A total of 23.3 million travellers from mainland China accounted for 67 per cent of total inbound visitors during the first nine months of the year, followed by travellers from Taiwan, Japan, the US and South Korea.
The number of visitors to Hong Kong in the first nine months of the year, up 16.2 per cent - those from the mainland up 23.6 per cent