Hotels Continue Their Struggle to Stay Afloat This Year

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It’s no surprise that the hospitality industry has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, given that all hopes for international travel have been dashed (curse you, pandemic).

As much as we’d like to go over to Malaysia and whip out our calculators to divide everything by three, perhaps we should contribute to our domestic economy this time.

“But, but, but there’s nothing to do here!” I hear you cry.

Indeed we are a tiny country, but you’d never know what you’ll find in the nooks and crannies of the island.

Yet, even with the government rolling out SingapoRediscover vouchers and locals spending them on staycations, hotels are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Hotel Hell

If you thought that Singapore had too many tourists, perhaps this is a welcome change for you.

The tourism and hospitality industries are still buckling under the weight of our non-existent visitors.

According to data from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the average hotel occupancy rates for the last quarter of 2020 stood at 55.8%, a far cry from the 86.3% in occupancy rates in 2019.

The SingapoRediscover vouchers, however, provided a semblance of relief for the industry. Pan Pacific Hotels Group chief executive Choe Peng Sum noted that one of their properties “saw 800 nights’ worth of room bookings made.” Guh dayum that’s some pent up Singaporeans.

Despite the uptick in bookings made with the vouchers, staycations are in no way comparable to the profits brought in by the international market.

In 2019 alone, the Singapore tourism industry gained US$20 billion (~S$27.7 billion) in revenue and was visited by an all-time high of 19.1 million tourists.

Unless you’re some homeless high flyer or you have a sugar daddy/mummy, Singaporeans aren’t going to be staying in hotels for an extended period of time.

Now hotels need to do whatever they can to appeal to the domestic market in order to prevent themselves from going under.

At Your Service

CNBC reports that Singapore is currently encouraging the tourism industry to introduce creative services in this period, especially since “when you are so busy with 19 million visitors, they don’t have time to develop and innovate,” notes STB’s CEO Keith Tan.

Wow, nice flex.

He adds, “Now is the time to deepen and build new skills in digitalization, contactless, virtual reality capabilities.” And indeed some hotels have been doing so!


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Local start-up GTRIIP has partnered with Park Hotel Group, Amara Singapore and Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa which uses their seamless hotel check-in app that is quick and secure.

The software uses fingerprint and face recognition which eliminates the need for manual front desk check-ins, an especially appropriate function in this pandemic. To read more about GTRIIP, click here.

Other innovative products include hotel chain Heritage Collection’s serviced apartments and loft rooms (instead of typical squeezy hotel rooms) and Lo & Behold Group’s Dine In Nature experience, at Tanjong Beach Club.

Apart from pushing out attractive deals, some hotels have been promoting special offers for healthcare workers, who have contributed greatly to the community.

Oakwood Premier AMTD Singapore slashed the price of their service apartment, leading to healthcare workers contributing to 600 nights worth of stays and hotel occupancy of 40%.

In April 2020, Expedia launched the Singapore Healthcare Heroes programme, which consisted of 37 participating hotels, to offer heavily discounted hotel rates to frontline healthcare professionals.

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Hopefully, with the roll-out of the vaccine and potential travel bubbles, things will start looking up for the hospitality industry. In the meantime, while you’re looking forward to your next break, here are more ideas to spend your SingapoRediscover vouchers on!

Feature Image: sirastock / Shutterstock.com

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