The Outbox Company, a leading travel marketing intelligence firm headquartered in Vietnam, joins forces with Southeast Asia-based communications consultancy Vero to launch comprehensive white paper, “Asia Hotel Brand Blueprint.” The collaborative study presents an extensive assessment of the current state of the hotel market and consumer perceptions in the region, and offers insights into how large hotel chains and boutique properties can future-proof their brands amidst evolving travel trends.
After a gradual recovery from a health crisis that briefly disrupted the dynamic hospitality sector, Asia’s hotel market is now exhibiting renewed vigor. While hotel performance in the region remains well below pre-pandemic levels, the online consumer surveys and data analysis presented in the paper suggest a promising upswing in 2024.
The robust hotel construction and opening, especially in India, Vietnam, and Thailand, signal a continuous flow of investment by renowned international hotel brands. The study shows that Accor, a French hotel brand, commands the lion’s market share, boasting an expansive portfolio of nearly 1,300 properties across Asia. Meanwhile, Marriott International leads in new project construction in the region, with 280 properties and over 60,000 rooms in the pipeline.
Thu Nguyen, Chief Research Officer at Outbox, said, “The intense competition spurred by the robust pipeline of new hotel expected to open in the coming years is ultimately pushing hotel brands to become more innovative and focused in building strong brand identities. This shift is expected to benefits the industry as a whole and driving further growth in the region.”
As competition intensifies, strategic brand positioning takes center stage
The proliferation of international hotel brands in Asia has empowered consumers with an array of choices and the opportunity to experience a diverse range of hospitality offerings. The Outbox Company’s comprehensive Hotel Brand Survey model surveyed Asia’s travelers to gain insights into brand recognition, familiarity, and associated perceptions.
Brand awareness varies significantly across hotel segments in Asia Pacific, the study found. Hilton reigns supreme in the upper upscale segment, while Lotte dominates brand awareness in the upscale segment. This highlights the importance of tailoring brand strategies to specific market segments to maximize reach and impact.
According to the data gathered in the per-country survey, international hotel brands enjoy significantly greater recognition in most Asian countries, as consumers find these brands more popular due to their established reputation. However, the narrative shifts in Vietnam, where homegrown brands overwhelmingly dominate in terms of popularity. This could indicate a stronger emphasis on familiarity.
The research also showed that despite covering the most essential brand attributes, hotel brands across all segments have similar images without clear brand differentiation in the eyes of Asian travelers. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for hotels to invest in personalized marketing campaigns and carve out unique positions in the market.
Future-proofing hotel brands amidst evolving travel trends
With the increased emphasis on self-planning, pursuit of more authentic experiences, and active involvement in sustainability initiatives, hotel brands are compelled to reassess their marketing strategies. This entails delivering services that closely align with the evolving preferences of today’s modern travelers.
For hospitality brands to remain top of mind for self-planners, they must adeptly cater to their desire for autonomy and spontaneity. This involves offering more flexible pricing structures and tailoring experiences to meet their individual preferences. At a time when room-and-buffet breakfast combo is no longer a significant selling point, hotel brands should seek ways to connect with their guests on a deeper level and convert them into brand ambassadors.
Modern travelers are also now going for more local immersions than group tours on crowded tourist sites. Hotels, being the experts in their destinations, can leverage this trend by developing cultural immersion programs that provide guests with first-hand insights into the community. Showcasing the hotel’s strong relationship with the community, including local artisans and businesses, signifies the brand’s commitment to cultural enrichment.
Beyond engaging with the community, actively embracing and promoting sustainability initiatives will contribute significantly to shaping a hotel’s reputation. Prioritizing environmentally conscious practices enables a hotel brand to align itself with the values of eco-conscious travelers and establishes it as a responsible and forward-thinking leader of the community and the hospitality industry.
“The hotel sector is undergoing continual evolution, and so are the preferences and demands of consumers in Asia,” says Trinh Nguyen, PR Account Director at Vero. “Hotel brands that keenly observe these changes and adapt swiftly to shifting sociocultural dynamics will not only distinguish themselves from others but also cultivate profound connections with their guests.”
To download the full Asia Hotel Brand Blueprint white paper, please visit The Outbox Company.