What is the breakdown between business and leisure travelers at One World?
SUM: As far as One World Hotel is concerned, we are a very business-centric hotel. Of course we are trying to increase the leisure segment, but predominantly we are a very business based. Therefore, at this point in time, the business ratio is 80% corporate and 20% leisure. We are trying to grow the leisure market by attending a lot of trade shows and road shows. As One World Hotel is also a member of WorldHotels, we are also trying to grow the leisure market through the assistance of WorldHotels.
How would you describe the level of competition for business-oriented hotels in Kuala Lumpur?
SUM: Obviously the competition comes from a lot of new openings, particularly in the end of this quarter and early next year. That will put some pressure on our rates. There is also too much supply of inventory. One World is unfortunately not in downtown Kuala Lumpur so marketing to the leisure segment is a bit of a challenge at this point in time because the location in not well known, particularly overseas. One World Hotel is located in the business district with a lot of multi-national companies surrounding this location. So currently we have a lot of companies which are holding their business meetings in our hotel.
Where are the majority of your guests coming from?
SUM: At the moment, most of the business comes from within the South East Asia region and also the Pacific Rim, most particularly from Singapore and Australia. In Singapore, there are a lot of regional offices that are located there and Malaysia is just nearby.
What geographic markets are most interesting for you in terms of future growth?
SUM: Due to the economic situation that is currently ongoing in the US and Europe, China and India offer huge potential in terms of the MICE business. There are huge groups coming out of China and India that are as large as 1,000 people. One World Hotel has one of the largest ballroom facilities in Malaysia so we are well placed to host this market. Of course we can’t ignore the Middle East, which at this point in time is one of the most important markets for One World Hotel. We have been in the Middle East market for the last five years and have participated in trade shows there since we opened in 2007. Barring any unforeseen circumstances happening, Iran is a big market there. Of course, besides Iran, we are focusing on Kuwait, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia.
What are Kuala Lumpur’s competitive advantages when it comes to MICE tourism?
SUM: As far as Kuala Lumpur is concerned, we offer one of the lowest room rates in the region, if not the lowest. That obviously offers great value for money for event planners and organizers who are looking for international standard facilities, which we are offering. At the same time, Kuala Lumpur is a blend of east and west. We have inspiring architecture, such as spectacular mosques and quaint Chinese temples. At the same time we have from colonial to modern architecture, such as the Petronas Twin Towers. We offer a vast variety of cuisines, whether it is Asian or Western dishes.
I think what Kuala Lumpur needs is bigger convention centres. At this point in time, KLCC only offers 10,000 sq. m., whereby in Singapore, the expos are nearly 10 times the size. If we can get a bigger convention centre then at least we can do events on a larger scale.
How would you describe the tourism related infrastructure currently in place in Malaysia?
SUM: As far as Malaysia is concerned, the government has obviously done quite a fair number of projects to improve the facilities for the tourism industry. However, there are certain areas where we can still do further improvement such getting more direct flight to come into Kuala Lumpur, as compared to our neighbouring countries, such as Thailand and Singapore. Another area that we also need to work on is on the human capital side. We will probably need to offer more training to improve on the level of skills. The other thing would be to improve the immigration service. Some countries offer special lanes for convention delegates where it is a seamless journey from flights to event venues. I think the government is also trying to improve transportation. A lot of big projects are already in place, such as the Mass Rapid Transit and highways. Lastly, I think what Kuala Lumpur needs is bigger convention centres. At this point in time, KLCC only offers 10,000 sq. m., whereby in Singapore, the expos are nearly 10 times the size. If we can get a bigger convention centre then at least we can do events on a larger scale.
What is your future outlook for Malaysia’s MICE sector?
SUM: We believe that there is a lot of potential in the MICE industry. The MICE industry is one of the areas that have been targeted by the Prime Minister in his Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). For this reason, he will be investing MYR 50m ($16.4m) to improve arrivals in this sector. It is aimed that this investment will attract 2.9m business travellers by 2020, which will represent 8% of total arrivals. In addition, the business tourism industry is expected to contribute about MYR 3.9bn ($1.3bn) to Gross National Income and create 16.700 jobs. Malaysia is an affordable yet international destination within the growing Asian market. Malaysia has strong ties with China, India, and the Middle East, and visitors from those markets will feel comfortable coming to this country, particularly with the authentic cultures that we have.