Hotels go all out to woo millennial travellers

The 143-unit Capri by Fraser Berlin in the city centre contains an archaeological excavation site that was discovered by chance during construction and is now viewable through a glass floor in the hotel lobby. Unique features in rooms "don't guarantee suc
The 143-unit Capri by Fraser Berlin in the city centre contains an archaeological excavation site that was discovered by chance during construction and is now viewable through a glass floor in the hotel lobby. Unique features in rooms "don't guarantee success but at least they offer an element of surprise and are not run of the mill".PHOTO: FRASERS HOSPITALITY GROUP
The 143-unit Capri by Fraser Berlin in the city centre contains an archaeological excavation site that was discovered by chance during construction and is now viewable through a glass floor in the hotel lobby (above). Unique features in rooms "don't guara
The 143-unit Capri by Fraser Berlin in the city centre contains an archaeological excavation site that was discovered by chance during construction and is now viewable through a glass floor in the hotel lobby (above). Unique features in rooms "don't guarantee success but at least they offer an element of surprise and are not run of the mill".PHOTO: FRASERS HOSPITALITY GROUP
The 143-unit Capri by Fraser Berlin in the city centre contains an archaeological excavation site that was discovered by chance during construction and is now viewable through a glass floor in the hotel lobby. Unique features in rooms (above) "don't guara
The 143-unit Capri by Fraser Berlin in the city centre contains an archaeological excavation site that was discovered by chance during construction and is now viewable through a glass floor in the hotel lobby. Unique features in rooms (above) "don't guarantee success but at least they offer an element of surprise and are not run of the mill".PHOTO: FRASERS HOSPITALITY GROUP

Firms, keen to tap this fast-growing market, are providing not just rooms but a lifestyle

Hotel chains are going all out to court millennials - a relatively well-heeled demographic who love to travel on their own terms.

Consumers in their 20s and early 30s want unique experiences and increasingly have the purchasing power to realise their desire for special experiences when they venture abroad.

Hospitality firms are lining up to make their pitch to this fast-growing market that demands top-notch service and distinctive design.

Take Frasers Hospitality Group, which has just opened a new property in Berlin under its Capri by Fraser brand targeted specifically at millennial travellers. The 143- unit accommodation in the city centre is the seventh operating Capri by Fraser property globally and the group's second in Germany.

"Millennials are one of the fastest-growing markets for hotels," said Frasers Hospitality chief executive Choe Peng Sum.

"To appeal to them, the next wave of hotels needs to be very different - designer yet not cookie cutter. When millennials visit a property, they want to be surprised."

Each Capri by Fraser property has a distinct aesthetic and draws design inspiration from the city it is located in, added Mr Choe.

  • 12

    Number of properties the Capri by Fraser brand has in the pipeline.

    19

    Number of properties the Capri by Fraser portfolio is expected to grow to by 2021, as the company anchors the brand in "key gateway cities" such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Capri by Fraser Berlin, for instance, contains an archaeological excavation site that was discovered by chance during construction and is now viewable through a glass floor in the hotel lobby.

The brand's Singapore property, which is in Changi Business Park, features suites designed in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz.

Such elements are essential to keep pace with the evolving hotel landscape, Mr Choe said. "These things don't guarantee success but at least they offer an element of surprise and are not run of the mill," he noted. "It's no longer a commodity where we just provide a room, people check in, stay, eat and check out. It's more a lifestyle and an experience. If we don't change, we will be left behind."

Mr Choe said the Capri by Fraser brand has 12 properties in the pipeline, with plans to expand into new markets including Leipzig, Wuhan, Jakarta, Johor Baru, Balikpapan, Kalkara and Gurgaon over the next four years. A Capri by Fraser property will be opening in Shenzhen next month.

The firm, which is a unit of real estate company Frasers Centrepoint, also intends to anchor the brand in "key gateway cities" like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with the addition of new Capri by Fraser outlets.

This will grow the Capri by Fraser portfolio to 19 properties with more than 4,000 keys by 2021, Mr Choe added.

Capri by Fraser is on track to expand more quickly than the company's Frasers Suites serviced apartment brand, which has traditionally targeted long-stay expatriates and offers larger suites.

"Companies now are very conscious of cost - young executives travel more frequently for short periods instead of staying long-term in one city," noted Mr Choe.

In addition, with land prices climbing all over the world, large sites are becoming increasingly expensive. This is why "the economics of a Capri works for us", he added.

Other major hotel chains around the world are also retooling to cater to millennial travellers, launching brands with an urban vibe and distinctive non-corporate names - including Hilton's Canopy chain, Marriott's Moxy and Hyatt's Centric, which is aimed at "modern explorers" looking for "experiences that lead to great stories".

The 98-unit Oakwood Studios Singapore, the first Oakwood-branded property here, opened in March and is "aimed at the millennial-minded". The serviced apartment property, with Instagram-worthy design features, offers "curated experiences", such as being able to order a piano to play in the room.

Millennial travellers already make up a quarter of the global customer base at The Ascott, the serviced residence arm of real estate giant CapitaLand. This share is set to grow, said Ms Mindy Teo, The Ascott's vice-president for brand and marketing and digital innovation.

The Ascott launched lyf (pronounced "life"), a brand targeted at millennials, last November. It also launched a living lab in February together with the Singapore Management University to field test lyf's co-living concepts and understand millennial usage patterns.

"This initiative will help inform the design for future lyf properties and enable us to create the unique community and social experiences that... appeal to millennials," said Ms Teo.

The Ascott said it aims to have 10,000 units under the lyf brand globally by 2020.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Hotels go all out to woo millennial travellers'. Print Edition | Subscribe