Centara sets sights on strong future

Centara sets sights on strong future
By admin

Centara Hotels & Resorts celebrated the end of another busy year, the support of Australian wholesale partners and members of the travel trade in Sydney earlier this week.

The event brought together over 20 travel industry members to mark the ongoing commitment to the brand with strong roots in Thailand, despite a particularly tough year facing months of political turmoil in the country.

“2013 was a record year for us with a significant year on year growth,” senior vice president of sales & marketing Chris Bailey told Travel Today.

“With the issues out of Thailand, we struggled in certain places, for example in Bangkok and Phuket. This year it was quite concerning if we looked mid-summer, but since the military took over, we’ve had some really good stability and the business has come back very fast.”

Bailey noted that despite the tumultuous year, for the gateway destinations of Bangkok and Phuket in particular, Centara would be ending 2014 with only a 1% loss in year on year sales.

“Thailand is one of those oversaturated markets, and it doesn’t seem to stop. From our perspective as the largest hotel in Thailand, we come from a position of strength,” Bailey told Travel Today.

“We sell ourselves as a one-stop shop, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a value customer or a five-star customer, we have a brand to suit.”

Bailey also told Travel Today that Centara has always looked to where the gaps and opportunities were, and to find a way to fill these with their brand.

“One of the things we’re very conscious of is how do we appeal to another market or demographic,” he said.

“When we decided on the concept for the second Maldives, we honestly felt if we went after a good four-star, couples, adult-only kind of market, that would give us maximum exposure in all of our core markets, and bring something new to the table.”

With two relatively-new Maldives properties running at capacity accorindg to Bailey, it has prompted the brand to start construction on two additional hotels in the region, including a second adults-only property, to continue drawing more customers to the area.

“We see a huge growth in Maldives in the affordable side, and there is a growing appeal for people to go the Maldives, but with a more moderate purse. That’s where we see the gap.”

Of all the Centara properties, Bailey said that 80% are resort certified, and 20% classify as "city hotels", with virtually all of the city hotels catering to the MICE market.

Centara owns and operates three of the major convention spaces in Bangkok, including Central World, Ladprao and the Government complex.

“We’re very in tune with MICE, and even with the resort hotels, most of them have a very expansive MICE product as part of the portfolio,” Bailey explained.

Bailey also added that a number of new initiatives had been undertaken to ensure this reputation for catering to the MICE market remained strong.

These initiatives included adding a new department in Bangkok, which operates a MICE development team with events and management facilities, a new MICE website, and a new suite of sales collateral, facilities, services, and products that ensures Centara “gets to groups with the whole new phase of MICE development.”

And as for 2015, Bailey told Travel Today about a number of exciting plans coming up, including the latest brand to join the company, Cosi.

“Cosi is designed for a lifestyle, value driven, price savvy but product savvy traveller, that’s ok with a small room but wants everything with it,” Bailey said, adding that five are currently under construction in Thailand, and set to open towards the end of 2015.

Bailey said more growth in new markets is key to Centara’s strategy in 2015.

New hotels will be opening in Indonesia, with three in Bali, and one in Komodo, Jogja, Lombok, Jakarta and Surabaya.

“We also have more hotels coming in the Maldives, and in Sri Lanka, and more in Thailand as usual,” he said.

“For Centara, it’s about identifying where the opportunity is, and delivering product that suits.”

The Centara Hotels & Resorts delegates are currently touring across Australia and New Zealand, promoting their current portfolio of properties in an eight-day Roadshow, which wrapped up in Perth yesterday.

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