Tue, Dec 23, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Asiaworld Plaza Hotel changes name to Holiday Inn Asiaworld Taipei

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Asiaworld Plaza Hotel (環亞飯店) was yesterday officially renamed the Holiday Inn Asiaworld Taipei in an effort to revamp its image and lure more international business travelers, a hotel official told the Taipei Times yesterday.

"We hope to boost the ratio of international business customers to 25 percent from the 20 percent we have now, having become a member of the Holiday Inn hotel chain," said Monica Feng (范慧齡), a public relations manager at the 20-year-old hotel.

To achieve this goal, the hotel, with over 750 guest rooms, has been conducting a first-stage refurbishment for the past 15 months. The first stage of renovating the lobby and 124 executive guest rooms will be completed before the hotel's grand opening in March, and the second stage of renovation of the restaurants and function rooms is slated to be finalized in 2005.

"To elevate our image and boost margins, it is essential for us to draw more international business travelers," Feng said.

"The Holiday Inn parent group has a strong global booking mechanism and contracted multinational corporation customers, which would greatly benefit us in this regard."

The alliance with Holiday Inn, which has over 1,500 hotels and resorts in the world, may extend positive effects to Asiaworld in the short term, while there still exists potential problems for the hotel to deal with in the long run, an industry veteran said.

"An enterprise's sustained development depends on innovation. It is innovative and beneficial for Asiaworld to gain an economy of scale through an international booking mechanism and management know-how through its alliance with Holiday Inn," said Chen Lieh (陳烈), general secretary of the International Tourist Hotel Association of Taipei (台北觀光旅館公會).

However, the hotel may face potential points of crisis in the long run, including the personnel's adaptability to the new western management style and its parent group's financial problems, Chen said.

Asiaworld Group (亞世集團), which reportedly has financial liabilities amounting to NT$900 million from 2001, has been looking for an alliance to improve its hotel business since two or three years ago.

In September last year, the group signed a 15-year management contract with InterContinental, handing over the hotel's day-to-day operations while retaining ownership of the hotel.

Asiaworld estimated it would generate turnover of NT$600 million this year.

The hotel reported sales last year of NT$784 million, a 51 percent drop from its NT$1.06 billion sales the previous year, according to Tourism Bureau statistics.

"With our efforts in speeding up transformation, we hope to boost our market share of Taiwan's MICE [meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions] market and push annual sales next year up to NT$800 million, an increase of more than 20 percent compared to this year," Feng said.

The government began to promote the nation to the world as a perfect destination for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions around two years ago, according to Luanne Li (李佳燕), marketing communications manager at the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Business travelers accounted for up to 90 percent of Grand Hyatt's total guests due to its brand name and perfect location next to the Taipei World Trade Center, Li said.

According to Tourism Bureau statistics, the number of travelers coming to Taiwan for business and conference purposes amounted to 870,950 people last year. But due to the SARS outbreak, the number was 660,954 people for the first 11 months of this year.

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