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Relais & Châteaux Strengthens its Presence in Asia Pacific

July 4, 2013 Corporate No Comments Email Email

Hotel and Restaurant Association Relais & Châteaux has earmarked the Asia Pacific as an emerging key market after the region recorded a big leap in outbound reservations in the past two consecutive years.

The Association hosted travel trade and media events last month in Sydney, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Taipei, led by Chairman of the Board Jaume Tapies and CEO Jean-François Ferret.

Mr Tapies said that the Association recognised the growing power of the Asian and Australian 523027affluent traveller and had earmarked the region as a key source of revenue for 2014 and beyond. It had committed additional budgets to Travel Trade and Public Relations (PR) efforts and to expanding its network of hotels and restaurants.

He said that of the 58.1 million euros in global reservations to date (July 2012 – June 2013), 7 per cent came from Asia Pacific – an increase of 36 per cent on the previous year.

“We recognise the great potential the Asian Pacific traveller has for the future of our 520 hotels and restaurants around the world and we have acted on that by investing significantly in the region,” Mr Tapies said. “We have over the last 1½ years, established a team of 4 staff based in Singapore, covering Sales & Marketing, Network Development, Member Hotels Help Desk and Reservations; with the set-up of a Central Reservations Office (CRO) in October 2012.

“Australia and Japan are our top two Asia Pacific source markets. The continuous efforts of our General Sales Agent (GSA) in Sydney and our Japanese-language call centre in Tokyo, alongside our Relais & Châteaux offices in these two cities, have helped grow these markets since the late 1990s.

“We see the Australian traveller is travelling more and spending more than before too – our GSA in Sydney generates 4 per cent of our hotel bookings worldwide.”

Mr Tapies said Japanese travellers made up a small but powerful niche, with a noteworthy number of high-net-worth individuals.

“Markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan are smaller but are also countries with a significant number of these individuals, and which have a more mature travelling population, who seek more exclusive and experiential travel than they used to – outstanding hotels, exquisite cuisine, appealing wine and unique experiences,” he said. “These markets continue to expand and our Sales & Marketing efforts targeting the Travel Trade and Consumers will also follow. We have just entered South Korea for the first time this year – it is a market where we see growth potential too.”

Since the engagement of a GSA in India in May 2012, Sales & Marketing efforts among the Travel Trade in India have increased and Relais & Châteaux has seen reservations from this country more than double in the past year.

The Sales & Marketing work in Asia Pacific has been complemented with the Association’s PR presence and efforts, through its Singapore and Sydney offices and with the engagement of PR agencies in India and Japan; and most recently, in China.

Relais & Châteaux also appointed a new Delegate spokesperson for the Asian member properties (excluding Japan) this year – Sebastian Sun, hotel owner of Le Sun Chine, in Shanghai.

Mr Sun said, “I am very proud to be elected as one of the spokespersons for the Asian members and to be on the Board of Directors, which has traditionally been made up of non-Asian counterparts. I see a renewed focus on this robust region and will do my best to be the voice of Asia.”

“We have recently launched a Simplified Chinese language version of our international Guide and new “Route du Bonheur” (Road of Happiness) itineraries designed by leading luminaries in the culinary or travel worlds,” Mr Sun said. “For example, you can journey through the “garden islands” from Macau to Taipei following the personal recommendations of Taiwan’s Grand Chef Chen Lanshu.”

Other recently-launched Routes du Bonheur include a trip through Australia exploring the favourite places of world-famous Grand Chef Tetsuya Wakuda and a wonderful guide to New Zealand from Hollywood actor Sam Neill. Other routes in Europe, the US and Africa are already accompanied by Michelin-endorsed road maps, available to the Travel Trade and Public. Separate Routes du Bonheur traversing through China, India and Japan will be launched this year.

These initiatives add to the new iPad and Android phone Apps and the enhanced Apps for iPhone and Blackberry. The iPad App carries 15,000 extraordinary photos and 300 videos of Relais & Châteaux’s exquisite locations worldwide with real-time reservations capability – they can literally take you on a journey through Asia, Africa, Europe, the United States and the Pacific, so that you will not just dream about your next holiday, but book it quickly and easily.

Other upcoming initiatives include the revamp of the global website with new Simplified Chinese and Japanese versions. These will allow travel consultants anywhere in the world to enjoy a smoother reservation process on the website or through the Central Reservations Offices and have travellers in foreign language-speaking markets organise their stays and meals in a Relais & Châteaux more easily.

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