Thursday, May 21, 2009

Singapore Hotels see lukewarm F1 bookings

In difficult times, late birds can still get the worm.
With companies playing hard to get, Singapore hotels appear to be prolonging their 'early bird' rates for F1 bookings.
Some are extending their special rates to as far as July - just two months before the big weekend (Sept 25-27) for the 2009 Formula One race.
Given the lacklustre demand, the Royal Plaza on Scotts has extended its early bird price of $380++ per night for a deluxe room, which was to expire at end March. Efforts to reach out to some of last year's clients were met with either refusals or a wait-and-see attitude.
As its general manager Patrick Fiat put it, companies 'don't want to be seen retrenching staff, then going to the Grand Prix'.

Royal Plaza's occupancy for the F1 weekend currently stands at 30 per cent, and deluxe room rates will be raised to $460++ only around the end of next month, at the earliest.

Over at the Grand Hyatt, the hotel has set aside a number of rooms at a special price of $550++ - versus $1,000++ last year - for those that make their bookings early.
'Customers are expecting lower rates due to the sharp fall in arrivals amid the world economic slowdown,' said PR manager Patricia Yong.
And if the weaker economy isn't enough, this year's race will lack the distinct shine that comes with an inaugural event. Singapore also has competition from Abu Dhabi, the latest destination to make its debut on the starting grid.

'Last year was the first night race. The buzz was incredible,' acknowledged Mr Fiat. Still, with hotels reducing their prices, this could be an advantage that works in our favour, he added.
Last year, reservations picked up pace in the two months leading up to the race, which could very well be the case again this year. But for now, hoteliers are giving F1 fans every incentive to lock in their bookings ahead of time. A minimum number of nights stay, however, still applies in most cases.
The Four Seasons, which is charging from $670++ for its superior and deluxe rooms, will implement an early bird discount of 15 per cent off the quoted rates if payment is made by July 31.
The Meritus Mandarin has also introduced an early bird offer to encourage customers to book earlier. For reservations that are confirmed by July 31, the hotel is offering rates that range from $380++ to $700++, some $150 lower than last year.
'We have received more enquiries than bookings so far and noticed that customers are shopping around for the best deals,' said Meritus Mandarin's assistant VP of marketing communications Lim Ee Jin.
'Booking pace is much slower than last year,' agreed Ms Yong. However, the early booking deal is netting Hyatt some repeat customers.

Meanwhile, the Rendezvous Hotel has an offer until June which sees rooms starting from $350++.
'This year, the take-up rate is slower. However, we expect last minute bookings nearer to the date,' said general manager Kellvin Ong.
Even a few trackside hotels have coughed up some competitive pricing.
One source was recently quoted $1,000++ per night for a room with a non-circuit view at the trackside Fullerton Hotel, about half of what the hotel was reportedly charging last year.

The trackside Marina Mandarin had an early bird rate of $600++ going till end March for its deluxe rooms, which have since been taken up. The next level of inventory, its executive deluxe rooms, are priced at $900++, still a far cry from last year's price tag of $1,650++.

Boutique hotel Naumi, which has been roped in this year as a trackside hotel, is keeping its rates at a starting point of $1,200++, although an early bird rate of $900++ applies till the end of next month.
Last year, the hotel was full, with one corporate client snapping up 80 per cent of its 40-room capacity, but it's proving a little trickier this year with occupancy currently standing at 10 per cent.
Bucking the trend, however, is non-trackside Novotel Clarke Quay. According to general manager Heinz Colby, the hotel has already filled 80 per cent of its rooms after rates were cut by 10 per cent this year to start at $600++.
Whatever the end result, it is clear that most hotels have adopted a more pragmatic approach this year and with good reason.
'A lot of wisdom has come with the first F1,' one industry source said. 'We have learnt our lesson.'

By Nisha Ramchandani

No comments: