ACCOR’S M GALLERY BRAND IS CONTINUING TO GROW RAPIDLY AROUND THE WORLD AND A STARRING PROPERTY IS THE VIE HOTEL BANGKOK, LED BY GENERAL MANAGER REMKO KROESEN.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON IN BANGKOK
Following the anti-Government protests in April, Bangkok continues to be a tough market for the hotel industry, with international tourism confidence well down from where it was twelve months earlier.
Compounding the problem for the Thai capital has been the global financial crisis, along with the imminent opening of more 5-star hotels in the country’s largest city. However, things are starting to look up and new properties, such as the VIE Hotel, which opened in January 2009, are in a position to pick up a substantial amount of business thanks to location and high quality of accommodation on offer.
VIE Hotel Bangkok General Manager Remko Kroesen, a man well known to the Australian accommodation industry thanks to his 15 years in the country, said while the market remains challenging, there are positive signs for the twelve months ahead.
“Bangkok is currently an extremely tough market with corporate and conference business still significantly down compared to previous years,” he told HM.
“Global economic recovery is going to be crucial to Bangkok and Thailand’s tourism recovery, though the city has made serious gains in the past six months with leisure travel from shorter-haul destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and to a certain extent China.
“After the instability of earlier this year, TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) has been successful with its promotional campaigns and, of course, Thailand has never been more affordable for markets such as Europe and Australia, whose currencies have grown dramatically against the Thai baht. “All in all, despite the challenges, Bangkok remains in a strong position to win tourism trade,” he said.
Kroesen said the hotel itself was now performing well, following the issues that compounded the hotel in the first four months of the year.
“Opening any hotel at a time when external factors are as serious as the global economic crisis will always prove a challenge, but having said that, our performance has been improving throughout 2009, as both the hotel and its location become better known.
“Today, we are out-performing many more established hotels in Bangkok, though competition in the city is intense and it will become even more competitive with a never ending line of new, quality hotels set to open.
“Still, VIE has certainly established itself pretty quickly and will remain a serious competitor to other branded properties in the city,” he said.
VIE Hotel Bangkok is a member of Accor’s fast-growing MGallery brand and Kroesen said that association is helping the hotel pick-up business that otherwise would have been non-existent, had the hotel remained a stand-alone property.
“Behind the hotel name is Accor’s strong sales, marketing, distribution and operational structure,” he said. “There is a genuine desire by travellers to have a more intimate experience of the destination and MGallery allows the hotel to come to the fore.
“The MGallery label also gives us such flexibility to manoeuvre quickly and offer tailor made services and products to our markets, which more standardised brands can’t do,” Kroesen said.
The 254-room VIE Hotel Bangkok opened at the beginning of 2009 as the first designer boutique in the MGallery network and it remains one of the finest in the collection.
With a central location just off Sukhumvit Road, the VIE Hotel is winning over both business and leisure travellers. The property is within close proximity to Bangkok’s major shopping district, while also being just one BTS station away from the new Suvarnabhumi Airport train link.
Kroesen said they are just a few of the reasons why the VIE Hotel is winning over the Australian market in particular.
“Over 2009, Australia has become one of our principal markets, with the high Australian dollar allowing travellers to secure 5-star service and facilities at rates almost 30% lower (in terms of Australian dollars) than when the hotel opened at the start of 2009,” he said.
“From our customer feedback, VIE appears to suit the Australian market very well due to its proximity to all major points of interest and the product itself,” Kroesen said.
(itals) Thai Airways flies to Bangkok from Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Direct services to Brisbane commenced in October, the same time as the airline re-introduced Royal First Class on the Sydney route. For bookings and more information, visit www.thaiairways.com.au