Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Biggest Singapore Event, Part 3

This article in The Straits Times came as a surprise as dad thought all hotels will be filled to the brim due to the IMF/World Bank meet in Singapore in the next few days. Maybe the report is a bit premature. Dad bets all hotel rooms will be fully booked during the biggest-ever event to be staged in the tiny island.

The story didn't take into account the number of protesters that will be in Singapore during the convention although the number may not be that big. Sadly, Singapore doesn't allow people to protest freely in a civil manner.

Sep 5, 2006
Some rooms for delegates not taken up yet
Over 3,000 of 11,000 rooms set aside still available; last-minute rush not ruled out
By Lim Wei Chean

THEY were expecting full house, and had turned away guests in anticipation of a bonanza from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings.

Instead, with eight days to go, to the start of the meetings, some hotels here are dealing with the problem of empty hotel rooms.

That is because Singapore hotels seem to have confirmed bookings in only 70 per cent of the rooms that had been set aside for the meeting's delegates.

That is according to latest estimates from the organising committee for Singapore 2006, the official name for the high-profile event taking place from Sept 13 to 20.

In total, 11,000 rooms were set aside for the 16,000 delegates.

This is because some delegates are local and do not need rooms. Others could be sharing rooms. At a 70 per cent confirmation rate, there are more than 3,000 unfulfilled bookings islandwide.

Commenting on the issue, a spokesman for the Singapore 2006 organising committee said that it had always expected rooms in the Marina area to be snapped up first, and rooms outside the Marina area to fill up more slowly.

The meetings are being held in Suntec City which is in Marina Bay area.

He noted that the five-star hotels in the Marina area collectively have enough capacity to provide all 11,000 rooms to hold the 16,000 delegates.

But the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA), the agency in charge of accommodations for the event, have provided rooms spread across the island and over different price ranges.

So it may just be a case of full-house in the Marina hotels and empty rooms elsewhere, said the spokesman.

He added: 'Some of the delegates may have also booked their rooms directly with their preferred hotel without going through the association.' 'These are numbers that we don't track.'

The situation is a far cry from the rosy picture the industry was expecting just three months ago when five-star hotels spoke about how they planned to turn away disappointed guests, and budget hotels relished rate hikes to cash in on the room crunch.

Yesterday, The Straits Times called 20 hotels, ranging from three- to five-star, to book two rooms between Sept 9 and 23.

It was able to get rooms at all but four hotels. It was even possible to book rooms in Marina area hotels like Marina Mandarin, Pan Pacific Hotel and Swissotel The Stamford.

The unexpected shortfall in bookings has caused problems at some hotels.

A hotelier, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Straits Times: 'We expected to be chock-a-block full. The rest of the rooms reserved for delegates have been returned to the hotels.'

His hotel, which is outside the Marina area, is only 60 per cent full, far below its usual occupancy rate of over 90 per cent.

Inbound travel agents that The Straits Times spoke to said they have received e-mail and last-minute calls for help from hotels. But the agents, too, face an uphill task.

One, who asked not to be named, said September was traditionally a peak period for corporate travel.

'But because we were told that rooms would not be available, we told our clients to avoid coming to Singapore during this time, or to postpone their trips,' he said, adding that his company has seen a 20 per cent drop in business.

Another travel agent said that, after turning most of his customers away in the past few months, it would be difficult to make a U-turn and ask them to visit Singapore now. Many would have made alternative plans.

In any case, he added, few would be willing to pay the price difference. For instance, a premier deluxe room at Raffles The Plaza usually costs $330. Between Sept 15 and 20, the same room is priced at $550.

SHA said yesterday it is not ruling out a last-minute rush for accommodation, as bookings are still streaming in.


Sin Thak said...

Wah, still got hotel rooms during IMF meet. I can go to Singapore again for another shopping trip before the Thai elections. And maybe I can ask Madam to buy another big company.

madam said...

knn, i hope that sin thak doesn't come knocking again during the imf meeting. i have to meet more important people from the US, UK and the oil-rich Middle East.

my mom-in-law still buay song with me over my thai shopping trip.

Anonymous said...

the trouble as i understand was STB and some government agencies like MFA went to block reserved many of the conference rooms and rooms and not they are being returned and some of these hotels are desperately come back to ask people to fill them up! it was the same phenomenon during HK handover when they tot whole world will turn up and it was bit of anti climax cos there will be lot of pple who didnt want to come cos of the expected crowds.