Tourist arrivals in Southeast Asian nations continuously grow every year. The region attracted 113 million tourists in 2016, taking up 9.2 percent of the world market share, according to data from United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Low-cost carriers drive the growth of tourism in the region, accounting for at least 50 percent of the recorded flights. Online travel is also seen to further strengthen the industry.
According to a 2019 report by Google and Temasek, Southeast Asia’s online travel sector has grown from $29.7 billion in 2018 to $34.4 billion in 2019, and is expected to double in the next five years. The biggest growth is expected to come from the accommodation sector, from $12.9 billion in 2019 to $36 billion in 2025.
Though Southeast Asia’s tourism industry is promising, its budget accommodation market still has a long way to go, experts opine. Lack of regulation, poor safety and service standards, and low affordability are still rampant in the market.
Franchising is one of the key remedies to these issues according to Zen Rooms, a leading economy and mid-range hotel franchise in Southeast Asia. It is at the forefront of standardizing quality, improving services, and bringing in advanced technology.
“Zen Rooms empowers budget hotels to be productive, safe, and competitive, especially now that Southeast Asia’s international tourism is booming. We want to transform the fragmented budget and midscale hospitality in the region,” said co-founder Nathan Boublil.
The hospitality company was founded in 2015 by Boublil and Kiren Tanna as a means to improve the state of budget hospitality in Southeast Asia, necessary considering that reviews, such as those at booking.com, show only 17 percent of travelers in Southeast Asia are satisfied with their hotel stay, as compared to the 35 percent of satisfied travelers in Europe.
“Many hotels still use offline tools to manually record their reservations and guest arrivals. Dependency on manual practices may cause overbookings, an increase in security issues, and unpleasant travel experiences,” the company said in a statement.
Zen properties offer competitive rates and higher service standards to travelers. Technology plays a key role: hoteliers get cloud-based software to manage the life of the property—from rates and reservations to housekeeping and cashflow; the software is linked to Zen Central Reservation and Distribution Systems, which provides 24/7 support for both travelers and hoteliers; automated processes give complete transparency to the owners and simplify the work of the team.
Knowing the importance of human capital, Zen Rooms has built an in-house hospitality school in the Philippines. Employees and partners go through online and offline training to achieve consistency in the quality of their service, and discuss the problems they may face.
“We do an operational audit for all our properties to reveal their areas for improvement,” said Boublil. “Once we know the pain points, we’ll address them one by one. We believe that proper training, relevant and easy-to-use software, and continuous support will help hotels to achieve their full potential.”
In addition, Zen Rooms recently announced a strategic alliance with its financial backers Yanolja, Korea’s number one travel group, and eZee, a global provider of end-to-end hospitality technology. Zen Rooms will be the first to introduce YFlux in its properties in the first quarter of 2020, making it the leading full-stack hospitality group in the region.