4 hotels in M’sia discuss their plans for the reintroduction of international tourists
A two-year closure of Malaysia’s international borders will be over on April 1, much to the delight of the tourism business.
Because lodging is such an important part of tourism, hotels will undoubtedly see a surge in guests in the near future. As a result, Vulcan Post went out to a few hotels to find out what they were expecting and how they were preparing for the expected crowd.
For international travelers, the Marriott brand is a familiar name. As a result, they frequently receive large numbers of international visitors.
In 2018 and 2019, the Westin Kuala Lumpur received an average of 70% international visitors. Before the pandemic, more than 80% of the guests at Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur were from outside the country, and the hotel’s general manager, Michael Delargy, is optimistic that this percentage will rise as borders reopen.
“We have observed how the deployment of vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) routes brings tourists and business travellers to our hotels,” said Rivero Delgado, Marriott International’s area vice president for Singapore, Malaysia, and the Maldives. This gives us continued hope that once border restrictions are eased, travel will rebound as well. “
Despite an increase in Singaporean travelers since the VTL deployment, Gregory Gubiani, general manager of the Westin KL, said it’s too early to estimate the number expected.
“While we are seeing demand, the next three months will be critical in determining the volume from the reopening of borders,” Gregory added.
However, hotels outside of the capital, like Mangala Resort & Spa in Pahang, did not rely on foreign travelers prior to the pandemic.
Prior to the border closure, just 10 to 20% of guests were international tourists, according to Gizelle Chua, the resort’s executive director. Nonetheless, from April onwards, they will be preparing to welcome foreign visitors. They’ve already gotten reservations from Singapore, India, and the United Kingdom.
However, coping with big groups of international guests is a novelty for younger hotels that opened during the pandemic. Capri by Fraser, Bukit Bintang (Capri), which opened its doors in December last year, has 90% domestic guests. Despite this, international tourists from short- and medium-distance destinations are expected to visit.
“This would definitely only happen in the latter half of the year for long-haul destinations,” said Joeanne Low, Capri’s head of sales and marketing. “We’re getting requests for leisure groups starting in April 2022, so that’s a good sign.”
SOPs will be followed indefinitely
Just because travel restrictions have been eliminated does not mean that all other procedures have been lifted as well.
Besides following Marriott’s Commitment to Clean, Le Méridien wants to create a safe environment that meets international and domestic rules.
“We’re also employing more operations team members to handle the increased occupancy when the borders reopen,” Michael added. “This is to ensure that our 5-star hotel’s hospitality is comparable to pre-pandemic levels.”
Mangala Resort & Spa has temporarily halted its turndown service in guest villas. In order to secure business and operational sustainability, the team is gradually boosting occupancy.
“In light of the new norm, we’ve changed our previous packages like social parties and weddings to appeal to a lower number of attendees with social distancing,” Gizelle explained.
Capri’s hygiene standards are followed in accordance with Bureau Vertias Malaysia’s norms.
increasing the number of services available
Many hotels have taken the liberty of introducing new features in the expectation of more guests. For example, Le Méridien’s Italian restaurant, Favola, now boasts a new event room.
“This is an ideal location for a cocktail party, an intimate wedding, or even a creative conference,” Michael said.
The Le Méridien Club Lounge has also reopened, and the hotel’s F & B venues’ operating hours have been extended as well.
There are also special room packages available. The Fun-mily Staycation Package includes a complimentary buffet breakfast, late check-out, and a second room for children under the age of 21.
Mangala Resort & Spa offers its own unique offerings as well. To attract remote employees, “bleisure” (business and leisure travel) guests, and digital nomads, it devised a Work from Villa package. During the coming months, the resort will also offer weekend activities like yoga. This is in line with the brand’s values.
Capri hopes to provide scheduled shuttle services for in-house guests by leveraging nearby attractions.
Selling to an international audience
Hotels are stepping up their marketing efforts to advertise these new offerings
“We’ll be expanding our social media marketing budget, as well as investing in metasearch channels like Google Ads and online travel agencies, as these platforms play a crucial role in travelers’ decision-making process,” Gizelle added.
Mangala Resort & Spa is also looking into collaborating with lifestyle businesses that fit in with the resort’s healthy-living philosophy.
Digitalisation is a top priority for The Westin KL. To enhance direct bookings from hotel sites and Marriott Bonvoy, the team is working on expanding its online offers. They’re also considering social networking sites like LinkedIn and Tripadvisor for providing updates and improving their rankings, respectively.
Le Méridien will also focus on digital marketing, focusing on countries where there is a good chance that their people will want to visit Malaysia.
As soon as travel limitations permit, we will also be sending our sales team colleagues to the targeted regions to obtain prospects through participation in tradeshows and sales visits in major countries,” Michael added.
Capri’s team wants to use its booking engine to encourage people to book directly and give members special prices.
The new hotel also hopes to promote local attractions, cuisine hunts, and café hopping, supporting Malaysia’s tourism sector in ways that appeal to tourists from around the world.
There are a lot of things that we know they’ll be able to do to get back to normal after visiting many of these hotels for our workcation series and seeing how strong they were in the face of pandemic fears.