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5 things to know: 29 May 2013
May 29 2013

• Commune launches value-conscious Tommie brand
• Pullman targeting ‘bleisure’ travelers
• IHG opens 200th hotel in China
• Monetate: 59% of guests interested in upsells
• Olympic construction dampens demand in Sochi

It’s a boy! Commune Hotels & Resorts launched Tommie, a value-conscious brand that combines the savvy of Thompson Hotels with the “playful approachability” of Joie de Vivre, according to a news release.

“Tommie will feature ergonomic, smartly designed, space efficient ‘crash pads,’ meeting spaces that serve as incubators for productive minds, and casual communal dining experiences. The public lounges, called Reading Rooms, will promote gathering and socializing with games and curated programming,” according to the release.

“While a ‘help yourself’ attitude and the efficiency of technology prevail via self check-in, eclectic retail and a gourmet grab-and-go marketplace, Tommie's selective service philosophy is still personable and accessible, representing the warmth that both Thompson and (Joie de Vivre) are known for.”

Two Tommie hotels are under development, both in New York: a 250-room location in Manhattan and a 329-room West SoHo location.

Accor is repositioning Pullman to appeal to the new breed of road warriors who blur the lines between business and leisure travelers. The upper-upscale brand, which counts 79 in its portfolio with a goal of 150 by 2020, will now offer a more stylish, contemporary environment with iconic pieces of art that link each property in the system, newly designed spaces and chic uniforms for its associates.

A reinvented food-and-beverage package will offer guests a variety of options around the clock. Its restaurants and bars will be designed to foster more interaction.

And in a nod to business travelers’ increasing demands for high-speed connectivity, Accor is bolstering its bandwidth throughout the portfolio. Strong Internet connections will be available everywhere in the hotel, from the lobby to the swimming pool.

InterContinental Hotels Group plans to almost double the number of hotels it manages in China even as the country’s economy slows, according to BloombergBusinessweek.

The owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands on Monday opened its 200th hotel in Greater China, which comprises China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. IHG has 170 hotels in the region, its second-biggest market, Richard Solomons, the company’s CEO, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Shanghai. The company plans to expand to 100 Chinese cities from 70 cities in the next three to five years, he said.

“We’ve seen the growth flatten out now, but you have to take a long-term view, which is what we do,” Solomons said, citing China’s urbanization rate and infrastructure development. “It’s going to be a very powerful market for hotels in the long term even if there’s some short-term slowdown.”

The majority (59%) of hotel travelers expressed at least some interest in receiving an upsell opportunity, according to a Monetate infographic using data from PhoCusWright. In a survey asking if they were interested in additional service or upgrade offers, 35% of hotel travelers said they were “sometimes interested,” while 24% said they were “often or always interested.” Thirteen percent said they were “never interested.”

Of those who expressed interest in receiving an upsell offer, 63% said they prefer to receive it during the shopping process, 45% said they prefer to receive it after they make shopping choices but before booking and 26% said “just after booking.” (The responses to this question were not mutually exclusive.)

To make the most of an upsell or cross sell, Monetate advised against pitching them to everyone: “A visitor who is planning a trip to Las Vegas would likely be interested in deluxe package offers that include fine dining. Meanwhile, a traveler heading to Sioux City (Iowa) might not expect or want to be upsold, as the trip is more likely a functional purpose (family gathering, etc.) than a getaway.”

While the 2014 Winter Olympics will thrust Sochi, Russia, onto the global stage in less than two years, the games are currently dampening demand at existing hotels as travelers avoid what they perceive to be an “Olympics construction site,” according to a report from HVS Moscow.

Development primarily is confined to the Imeretinskaya Lowland and the mountain cluster. However, the surrounding Sochi districts, which host a thriving domestic health and wellness tourism market, are suffering by association.

Other challenges in the region include lack of marketing and infrastructure, both of which historically have deterred inbound global tourist arrivals, which have not exceeded 10% of total arrivals through Sochi’s Adler Airport. The airport is developing a new terminal that will increase its capacity to 3,800 passengers per hour, which it will need if projections for a near doubling of arrivals by 2020 hold true.

Compiled by Patrick Mayock.

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