Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Businesses feel Christmas spirit

HO HO HO Hotels, restaurants and retailers are capitalizing on the increasing demand for Western-style holiday trappings, such as ready-made Christmas feasts

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Observing foreign holidays has been a growing trend for people in Taiwan, and holiday promotions -- such as offering ready-made Christmas feasts -- have become a lucrative marketing tool for industries including hotels, restaurants and retailers, industry officials said yesterday.

"As the lifestyle of people in Taiwan becomes more westernized, it has become common to celebrate foreign holidays," said Paulina Lin (林婉君), public relations assistant manager at the Sherwood Taipei hotel.

"This increases people's need to consume, which creates good opportunities for businesses to boost their sales," Lin added.

The Sherwood Taipei has been offering Christmas dinners since its establishment 14 years ago, and has seen major increases in demand.

This year, the hotel will provide Italian and Chinese-style Christmas dinners costing from NT$2,000 to NT$2,800 per person, as well as special suite promotions, offering services such as an in-room Christmas dinner or an aromatic bath.

"Even though this year's Christmas is on a weekday, reservations for our Christmas dinners and room packages have reached 80 percent and 60 percent of capacity, respectively," Lin said. "We expect the bookings to become feverish this week as the holiday approaches."

Another hotel agreed, saying that it has seen increasing consumption of holiday-related food and products.

"Especially after the depressed mood caused by the SARS epidemic in the first half of this year, we expect people's mood to celebrate will be a lot stronger than before," said Joyce Weng (翁宜茜), marketing communications manager at the Westin Taipei.

The Westin offers customers Western, Chinese and Japanese-style Christmas set meals priced from NT$2,200 to NT$2,800, preferential room packages as well as take-out turkey hampers.

"We have sold more than 200 turkey hampers, and the bookings for Christmas dinners are 80 percent full," Lin added. "There will be no question of our generating 30 percent more in sales during Christmastime than in usual days."

Restaurants have also been looking forward to the arrival of the holiday, which has become a big business day.

"In addition to Western and Chinese Valentine's days, Christmas is another lucrative holiday for restaurants," said Lin Yi-fang(林怡芳), assistant manager at the French restaurant Le Bistro de L'Olivier.

"We have been offering Christmas dinners since we opened three years ago and the sales on that day could amount to five or even six times the sales on the usual days," Lin said.

Eyeing rising needs of consumers, hypermarkets, including Carrefour Taiwan and Tesco Stores Co Taiwan, have plunged into the business as well by providing consumers holiday food, such as turkey hampers, in a bid to seize a share of the market and push forward sales of relevant goods.

"In light of the doubled sales figures during foreign holidays, festival marketing has become an important strategy to lure customers and boost our business over these past two years," Tesco's corporate affairs manager Sarah Wu (吳明君) said.

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