FEATURE: Hotels expected to see profits rise during New Year Eve

CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION::Hotel restaurants and bars are also likely to post strong sales figures during the holiday season as people gather to celebrate the new year

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Dec 31, 2012 - Page 13

When friends of Ambassador Hotel (國賓大飯店) vice president Bill Chen (陳榮輝) asked him in the middle of the month to pull a few strings to reserve a room at the hotel for New Year’s Eve, they unexpectedly received a negative answer.

“I told them there is nothing I can do,” Chen, who is also the head of the hotel’s financial department, told the Taipei Times.

Because it is quite difficult to find a hotel room to stay this year, visitors to Taipei may face the same situation on New Year’s Eve.

Weeks ago, Taipei’s major hotels were already fully booked during the four-day new year holidays.

The countdown fireworks show at the Taipei 101 and the countdown concert held next to it are undoubtedly the main factors attracting tourists to visit Taipei on New Year’s Eve.

Le Meridian Taipei (台北寒舍艾美酒店), a five-star hotel with 160 rooms near Taipei 101 in Xinyi District (信義區), said more than 90 percent of the rooms have been booked since the hotel started accepting reservations on July 1, with the rooms overlooking the skyscraper being most popular.

“Hotel guests can either watch the fireworks show directly from the room, or go out of the hotel to watch it with the crowd,” La Meridian Taipei public relations director Queena Lin (林渟鈺) said by telephone.

The high occupancy rate helped raise the hotel’s average room rate by 5 percent, from its original rate of about NT$7,000, further driving up its sales by 20 percent this month from a year earlier, Lin said.

Restaurants and bars in Le Meridian are also expected to post strong sales during New Year’s Eve on the back of gatherings for New Year’s Eve celebrations for people living in Taipei, Lin added.

Not only hotels in the city’s Xinyi District, but all major hotels in Taipei are beneficiaries of the New Year holidays.

Formosa International Hotels Corp (FIHC, 晶華國際酒店集團) has seen its rooms in Formosa Regent Taipei (晶華酒店) fully booked during the four-day holidays, mainly driven by independent guests from Hong Kong and Macau.

Formosa public relations director Ellen Chang (張筠) said the strong sales from food service during the Christmas holidays and New Year holidays may both help raise the hotel’s revenue this month.

FIHC posted NT$323.19 million (US$11.09 million) in sales last month, up 2.99 percent from a year earlier and the highest monthly revenue this year, the company said in its stock exchange filing. That indicated the hotel operator’s revenue this month may hit a record high this year if it surpasses the level recorded last month.

As for the Ambassador Hotel, which operates three hotels in Taiwan, the most surprising sales performance during the New Year Holiday came from its hotel in Greater Kaohsiung, Chen said.

“Various pop stars are holding year-end concerts in Greater Kaohsiung this year, so their fans will stay there for the holidays and drive up occupancy for our hotel,” Chen added.

Following the countdown celebration in Taiwan becoming more attractive and diverse, Chen said stronger demand from tourists has helped hotels like the Ambassador Hotel — favored mainly by businesspeople — maintain revenue in December, a traditional slow season for business guests.

The hotel operator may also launch a special package to raise occupancy rates during the slow season to maintain sales performance, Chen added.