Pan Pacific Hotels Group: Staying Strong in the Face of Crisis

The leading hospitality player is leveraging its strengths in technology, service, and sustainability to thrive.

As new waves of COVID-19 infections continue to weigh on the hospitality industry, more progressive players are finding ways to navigate the uncertainty, even as they position themselves for long-term growth.

One such company is Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG), which boasts a portfolio of close to 50 hotels, resorts, and serviced suites – including those under development – in 31 cities across Asia, Oceania, North America, and Europe.

Cinn Tan, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of PPHG, tells BiZQ how the group is leveraging technology, sustainable practices, and most importantly, human-centric services to stay one step ahead of the pandemic.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the hospitality industry, and how has PPHG transformed to weather the downturn and sustain its business?

With airtight border controls stemming the flow of tourism around the world, the hospitality industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic. However, in Singapore, we have been greatly aided by government initiatives to spur domestic demand.

With this, PPHG pivoted our offerings to focus on the staycation and daycation market in Singapore. We have rolled out a slate of packages to welcome guests back through our doors. For example, our “25-hour Check-in/Check-out” benefit allows guests to decide their own check-in and check-out times for a full 25-hour stay experience at our hotels and serviced suites.

Recently, we also exclusively partnered KKday to launch a unique escape room-themed staycation, “Stay, Hide and Seek with Otah & Friends”, which is available until 30 September 2021.

The pandemic has also spurred many to place a bigger focus on well-being and self-care. To cater to this demand , we partnered Club Med to bring its signature Body & Soul programme to PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay.

COVID-19 has also heightened our awareness of the importance of hygiene. This inspired us to create the Pan Pacific Cares Programme, which standardises heightened hygiene and cleaning standards across all our properties.

Digitalisation and technological advancements have also been accelerated amidst the pandemic. For us, this means stepping into the online food pick-up and delivery space, exploring a keyless check-in system, and rolling out digital concierges at Pan Pacific Singapore, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay and PARKROYAL on Beach Road Singapore.

As hospitality is a service business where the human touch is still important, we see technology as a tool to maintain our signature sincerity in service though all touch—and touchless—points.

We have also used this time to redesign jobs and to upskill and reskill our employees, including improving our central reservations system, combining security and concierge services and more.

Given the limited size of the local market, and with tourism unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, how important is it for PPHG to secure its place in overseas markets?

PPHG is keeping our sights on long-term, sustainable growth. This has been our strategy even prior to the pandemic and we are focused on expanding our global footprint in key gateway cities around the world. For example, we are rolling out a targeted ecommerce strategy through our WeChat solutions in China to better engage Chinese consumers.

With vaccination rates on the rise in many countries, PPHG is shifting to more long-term, sustainable solutions and continue our push for sustainable hospitality, cutting-edge design, and wellness to meet the changing expectations of our guests. As we move towards an endemic COVID-19 world, we remain focused on expanding our portfolio in prime locations around the world.

Sustainability is a growing key focus of most hospitality industry players. How has PPHG been championing the sustainability drive?

PPHG is driving the sustainability agenda with our PARKROYAL COLLECTION brand. Since its opening in 2013, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering has been consistently awarded for its green design: it has been named “World’s Leading Green City Hotel” and “Asia’s Leading Green City Hotel” at the World Travel Awards, and “HICAP Sustainable Hotel” in 2020.

The specific features employed from construction to daily operations at these hotels have produced tangible results. For instance, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering’s solar panels and motion sensors installed throughout the property, conserved a combined average of 98,133 kWh per year.

Meanwhile, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay has preserved the original structure of the building from 1985 during its construction. This decision prevented the production of 51,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to wiping out a forested area larger than all of Singapore’s nature reserves.

With the constantly evolving hospitality landscape, what are some likely luxury hotel design trends expected to emerge over the next few years?

In some ways, the pandemic has sparked a growing appreciation for the environment and nature, with many seeking out brands that visibly integrate sustainable practices into their design and operation. With this, we anticipate that more sustainability-led, “back-to nature” designs to be on the rise and become one of the top luxury hotel trends in the coming years.

As healthy and conscious living picks up among the luxury segment, we may also see the farm-to-table and organic product movement gain more traction. Luxury consumers may express greater desire to be involved in the process of sustainable dining, through certain features such as urban farm installations. We are championing this movement through our PARKROYAL COLLECTION brand – the urban farm at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay supplies up to 20% of edible greens to the all-day dining restaurant Peppermint, and Lime at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, as they have begun offering a special plant-based menu.

With the increasing adoption of technology throughout the world, especially contactless payment and low-touch service points due to the pandemic, we anticipate that guests will place greater emphasis on the sincerity of human service.

What are some of the challenges that PPHG has faced while retaining existing customers, and attracting new ones?

In Singapore, the staycation pie is only so large, and we are already seeing signs of “staycation fatigue”. Hence, we are finding creative ways to sustain and create domestic demand.

We are ramping up our Pan Pacific DISCOVERY loyalty programme, to encourage both existing and potential guests to keep our properties at the top of their minds. Sincerity sets our service apart, and it is this signature that we promise to all guests. This entails stepping up our guest experience to include more personalisation and a greater focus on the little details, especially regarding safety and hygiene.

We are also challenged by the decrease in staff strength amidst the pandemic. To counter this, we are upskilling and reskilling our employees, empowering them to be multi-faceted in their service.

The closure of travel borders has forced us to be inventive in working with other industry players and partners. In this time of survival, brands can be stronger by working together. We hope that this spirit of collaboration grows and lives on long after we weather this storm.