Facing keen competition from newly established luxury hotels that offer customers a range of entertainment facilities plus world-renowned brands, traditional hoteliers in Macau are on high alert. One hotel has decided to readjust its position in the market by elevating service standards, improving its guest rooms and facilities and, most importantly, capitalising on its uniqueness and sense of exclusiveness.
Pousada de Sao Tiago, located along the Praia Grande Bay, five minutes from the famous A-Ma Temple, has a long history in Macau. It currently harbours 20 guest rooms, four suites and a small chapel that dates back a hundred years, and is one of the enclave's most popular destinations.
Capitalising on the business opportunities that come with increasing numbers of tourists, the hotel's resident manager, Michael Au, says Pousada de Sao Tiago is now undergoing renovations, with the aim of becoming the first "five-star all-suite hotel" aligned with Macau's historical culture. Apart from the preserved 16th-century fortress and its chapel, all existing rooms will be upgraded and embellished as suites, the restaurant revamped into a Spanish bistro, and more function and meeting rooms will be constructed to complement the hotel's new upmarket image.
Mr Au says the renovations and revamp have been designed to help the hotel appeal to its target customers: Hong Kong corporate clients and overseas tourists looking for a unique travel experience, enjoying Macau's natural scenery, culture and colonial past. Unlike guests at "casino hotels", customers of Pousada de Sao Tiago do not generally visit Macau for gambling. "We aim to position ourselves as a favourable venue for corporate clients to hold meetings or functions, and a viable alternative for people from Hong Kong or overseas to host weddings or events," Mr Au says.
Though competition is very keen, he is optimistic about the market's development and expects the hotel to achieve steady growth in terms of its room occupancy rate and number of visitors in the future. "The number of tourists coming to Macau will continue to grow," he says. The hotel hopes to entice and then retain high-spending guests looking for superb hospitality services. Following the expansion, the average room rate for a suite will be increased to between HK$2,800 and HK$3,800 per night, putting the hotel at the top end of the market.
Casino hotels, Mr Au says, highlight their superior and luxurious decorations to attract new clients. But he believes that hotels like Pousada de Sao Tiago that offer something special to clients have room to grow. "Though the majority of tourists visit casino hotels for gambling and entertainment, the segment coming to Macau for retreats or cultural experiences is also growing, thereby cultivating a stable market for us," he notes.
In addition to reinforcing its unique market position and cultural identity, Mr Au says upgrading service standards is another way for Pousada de Sao Tiago to safeguard its competitiveness. "We are a high-end boutique hotel; we appeal to clients with our warm hospitality," he says. "Even staff working in the back office may deal with our clients, so it is essential that they have a good attitude." The hotel aims to provide guests with a complete Macau experience and is also planning to train its staff as tour guides for its customised shuttle-bus services, to promote cultural tourism.
The hotel currently employs 32 employees but this number is expected to increase to 54 as it expands. Mr Au says that, like other hotels in Macau, Pousada de Sao Tiago experiences difficulties with staff recruitment and high turnover. Though faced with a labour shortage, he says the hotel considers quality rather than quantity during the recruitment process. To retain talented staff, it provides competitive remuneration packages and job promotion opportunities within the Florinda Hotels International group. Mr Au believes the hotel's position in the market will help recruit service-oriented staff who admire the hotel's unique cultural style.
Pousada de Sao Tiago is now conducting an aggressive recruitment drive to enhance its workforce. While looking for new staff in Macau, Mr Au says the hotel is also looking for experienced candidates from Hong Kong and mainland China. He believes Hong Kong staff's international exposure and work experience will help uplift the overall standards of staff at the hotel.
Sharpen the edge
- Reinforce hotel's uniqueness in the market
- Continuously upgrade service quality
- Strengthen brand identity
- Retain and attract top talent by providing better benefits