Centara bets on Asia’s budget boom

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Building off the boom of Southeast Asia’s budget airline sector, Centara Hotels & Resorts is developing a new economy hotel brand that is set to take flight in 2015.

COSI Hotels—which stands for comfortable, open, sensible and individual—will target cost-conscious travelers who conduct the majority of their hotel searches and bookings online.

“There is an enormous change in the travel market in the Asia/Pacific, as the economies of the region expand and the number of domestic and international travelers increases,” said Suparat Chirathivat Uahwatanasakul, VP of development for Centara’s management and development arm, Centara International Management. “We are seeing an entirely new generation of travelers in both the leisure and business travel sectors, who are cost-conscious, and who do all their research and booking on-line. Much of this market is driven by the growth of the budget airlines, which are allowing people to travel more easily and conveniently.”.

Mr. Suparat Chirathivat Uahwatanasakul

The first COSI Hotel is projected to open in 2015 and Centara plans to have at least 30 operational by 2020.

“At the beginning, we plan to expand in well-known business and leisure destinations, for example Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Udon Thani, Hat Yai, and so on,” Uahwatanasakul said via email. “Once we are well established in Thailand, we will start to expand in the (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) countries, and in China, Australia and New Zealand.”

Building a budget brand

The budget brand is the high-end operator’s first foray into the budget space—a shift that required an entirely new way of thinking, Uahwatanasakul said.

“We spent three years to understand and absorb what it needs to be a successful economy brand. We shifted our mindset to be able to think ‘economic, innovative and efficient’ and to condense this into a brand,” he said, adding COSI will be operated by a separate unit within Centara.

The company is working on authority approval of its first hotel, which means specific details about the look and features of COSI are still confidential.

However, Uahwatanasakul did say the success of the brand will rest heavily on its online distribution.

“Our distribution objectives are primarily to distribute online mostly via our own websites,” he said. “Our own database currently exceeds 5.3 million potential guests, and we will look at an advertising campaign that will further communicate this new brand in all targeted source markets directing guests to our websites. The launch of our new loyalty program in January 2013 will also support marketing and distribution of COSI.”

Source: www.hotelnewsnow.com

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