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Navigating the Hospitality Helix in Southeast Asia

November 7, 2016 Hotel Developments No Comments Email Email

unnamed-2Unicorn Hotels and Resorts is a disruptive, Bangkok-based boutique hotel management company offering existing and soon-to-launch hotels and restaurants an empowering and cost efficient alternative to global brand management agreements.

Started by seasoned hotel management expert, Yann Gouriou, Unicorn Hotels and Resorts creates, operates, reboots and inspires successful hospitality brands and tailors the experiences that they offer to their guests.

“Hotels are no longer places where you just rest your head. They are activity hubs where Wi-Fi, coffee and conversation flow fast and free. Guests seek convivial co-working, networking and not-working experiences that flex to their schedule. They also need somewhere to let off steam and have fun when the work is done.”

In an increasingly crowded hospitality landscape, Yann believes the survivors will be those that do things slightly better, slightly differently, and most importantly, those who offer real value to their guests.

“Value does not mean cheap. It means that your customers feel totally satisfied with the total experience for the price they have paid. Our job as hoteliers is to find a price point that is fair and deliver accordingly. That requires creativity, dedication and simple hard work. All too often the efforts of the core team inside a hotel – the GM, the F&B Manager are not valued. It is these people that manage every aspect of the property. Being a hotel manager is like being the mayor of a city. You are a planner, a technician and an expert in every aspect of the property. You are also a mentor and sometimes even a counsellor.”

The hospitality scene in Asia is an ever changing landscape. Trends, brands, concepts appear and disappear all the time. According to Yann, what matters in the end is service, which is something rapidly diminishing as hotels adopt mass market strategies and sensibilities.


Managing Director of Unicorn Hotels & Resorts, Yann Gouriou.

“In Thailand hospitality management we have seen an increasing focus on the mass market in recent years resulting in higher numbers of arrivals but much lower buying power. This has impacted heavily on hotels in some of the country’s main resort areas. A great room is not sustainable with poor service. A funky look will fade, a wacky concept will narrow your target market. Building the right experience for your guests requires experience and a deep understanding of their needs and behaviour in order to get the service basics right.”

Developing a loyal customer base is another essential for most hospitality businesses, and this has become a major challenge in competitive, price sensitive markets such as those in Southeast Asia.

“Online distribution has been taken over by a handful of huge companies that have little understanding of a specific destination or product. Small operators are crippled by high commissions and pressured to lower their room rates in order to guarantee exposure on a handful of dominant travel websites. In this sense, the travel industry has been following the same trajectory as as Banking and Fast Food. In both of those sectors this ‘one approach fits all’ strategy has already failed, in some cases quite dramatically.”

Yann is a strong advocate of re-assessing OTA models and has launched his own revolutionary new hotel and travel service booking engine named, which promises the best available rate every time guests book a room online and donates 20% of the commission to project-oriented charities with a measurable impact selected by its customers.

“Owners need to understand that what makes a hotel or restaurant successful, even in a competitive space is how their product is perceived and how their services are delivered. That’s why my first advice is to make sure you have the right people around you. Hospitality begins with people. Everything else follows.”

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