Ambassador Hotel Ltd (國賓大飯店), which operates four hotels under two brands and several restaurants in Taiwan, has announced a membership sharing program with Tokyu Hotels Co Ltd of Japan that it hopes will generate more Japanese customers.
Under the program, Tokyu Hotels members would accumulate reward points when checking in at the Ambassador Hotel’s three hotels in Taipei, Hsinchu and Greater Kaohsiung, and vice versa.
Tokyu Hotels — which operates more than 40 hotels in Japan under two brands — has 300,000 to 350,000 individual and corporate members.
“The plan will benefit the company’s room revenue in the long term,” Ambassador chief operating officer Frank Lin (林興國) told a press conference on Feb. 20.
Lin said Japanese visitors currently account for about 65 percent of Ambassador Hotel Taipei’s total customers.
Foreign visitor numbers grew 9.6 percent to 8.01 million last year from 2012, led by an increase of 16.4 percent in Hong Kong and Macau visitors to 1.18 million, followed by an 11.1 percent growth in Chinese visitors to 2.88 million, Tourism Bureau data showed.
However, the number of inbound Japanese tourists declined 0.8 percent to 1.42 million — the first decline in five years — mainly due to yen’s depreciation, according to the bureau.
The drop in visitors means more competition for hotels focused on Japanese customers, such as Ambassador Hotel Taipei and Hotel Royal-Nikko Taipei (台北老爺大酒店) — which is owned by Hotel Royal Group (老爺大酒店集團) under Nikko Hotels International brand of Japan.
The launch of the Okura Prestige Taipei (台北大倉久和大飯店) in 2012 has made the market even tougher.
Licensed by Okura Hotels & Resort, a world-renowned Japanese hotel chain, the hotel has seen its room occupancy rate average 81.5 percent last year, with Japanese visitors accounting for more than half of its customers.
“We do not have a specific strategy to attract tourists from Japan … but the Okura brand gives a sense of security to customers,” Okura Prestige Taipei general manager Shinji Umehara told reporters last week.
The hotel’s average room rate was about NT$6,000 last year, company data showed.
Some other hoteliers, such as the Westin Taipei (台北威斯汀六福皇宮), also aim to attract more Japanese this year.
The Westin Taipei, a luxury hotel owned by Leofoo Tourism Group (六福旅遊集團) and operated under a license by Westin License Co, expects to raise its total Japanese customers to 20 percent this year, from 17 percent last year, hotel manager Ben Chen (陳怡斌) said.
Japanese client numbers at the hotel rose 30 percent last year from the year before, Chen said.
Westin Taipei plans to raise its average room rate to NT$7,000 this year, from NT$6,500 last year, he added.