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Thailand’s hotel profits continue to tumble as neighbours start to recover – SEAHIS seeks solutions to the industry’s biggest challenges as difficult times lie ahead

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The South East Asia Hotel Investors’ Summit (SEAHIS), which will hold its fourth edition in December, will be staged amid the deepest downturn the hospitality industry has ever faced. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to ravage global travel and tourism, top executives from 62 companies and organisations based in Thailand, or with an office in the Kingdom, as well as 30 remote speakers, will come together to tackle the biggest issues faced by hoteliers.

The scale of the task is clearly shown by recently-released data comparing the profitability of hotels around Asia. According to the October 2020 report from Hotstats, the benchmarking company, Thailand’s hotel profits were wiped out in the first 10 months of 2020, as Gross Operating Profit Per Available Room (GOPPAR) fell from US$58 per available room to break-even.

The hardest hit market in the January-October 2020 period was Hong Kong, where GOPPAR slumped from US$150 to a loss of US$27. Singapore fell from US$117 to US$34, as government schemes helped the city-state remain slightly profitable. More worryingly for hoteliers in Thailand however, while most other markets started to recover during October 2020, the “Land of Smiles” saw a GOP loss of US$9 Per Available Room, down 121% compared to the same month in 2019.

With widespread deployment of a vaccine perhaps still six months away and travel corridors being repeatedly postponed, the regional hotel sector faces a bleak winter. SEAHIS will see key stakeholders come together in person to discuss how the industry can return to profitability, and most importantly, start to rehire the thousands of workers who have sadly lost their livelihoods during the pandemic.

Important topics on the two-day SEAHIS agenda include:

  • The optimal way to cut costs
  • Using travel tech to boost revenues
  • Rethinking restaurant and bar offerings
  • Restructuring owner-brand relationships
  • Examining paths to ecological sustainability
  • Investing in acquisitions and renovations at a low point and, of course;
  • Redesigning hotels for the new normal

Simon Allison, CEO of HOFTEL, the hotel owners’ organisation which runs SEAHIS noted: “Hotels around the region are in an awful hole and their owners are watching years of investment disappearing before their eyes. They will need to act decisively to see their way through the next year. SEAHIS will help them take affirmative action to ensure the viable future of their businesses.”

Stephen vanden Auweele, Chief Hospitality Group Officer of Asset World Corporation, one of Thailand’s largest hotel owners, said: “This terrible crisis has pushed us all to the wall. But it has also made us learn new lessons, forcing us to focus on excellence, customer service and efficiency and to find out innovative ways of using technology. Going forward, being average just won’t be enough.”

Anchalika Kijkanakorn, Managing Director and founder of AKARYN Hotel Group, agreed that we need to look past the pandemic to a brighter future: “While COVID-19 has been an unprecedented catastrophe, the fact that Thailand has pulled through with few physical casualties is a great testament to the mindset of our country. Now, we just need to make sure the economic impact doesn’t leave too much of a scar. We can get through this with the help of good banking governance, strong public policy and resilience.”

SEAHIS 2020 will take place on 1-2 December 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit. For more information, please visit www.seahis.com.