CapitaLand’s wholly owned lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited has added a record number of over 14,200 units across 71 properties worldwide for 2020, with the aim of growing its global portfolio to 160,000 units by 2023.
Despite Covid-19, this exceeds the number of units secured in 2019,
Kevin Goh, CapitaLand’s Chief Executive Officer for Lodging and Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Covid-19 has validated the resilience of Ascott’s business model as property owners continue to sign new management and franchise contracts with us, allowing us to achieve our fourth consecutive year of record growth in 2020. Through these new contracts, we continue to build our future recurring fee income stream. In 2021, over 80 properties with about 17,000 units are slated to open across the world. We will continue to look for opportunities to expand our presence through management contracts, franchises, strategic alliances, and stand ready to seize good investment opportunities.”
Ascott has also announced its new target for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey (MEAT) region, aiming to enhance its current portfolio by an additional 6,000 units over the next five years, to reach a total of 10,000 units by 2025. Ascott currently has 16 properties under development and an additional 2,003 units in the pipeline that will be opening over the next two years in the region. After establishing itself as a behemoth in the Middle East, Ascott aims to further strengthen its geographical presence in emerging markets in Africa, with five properties currently in the development phase.
Vincent Miccolis, Ascott’s Regional General Manager for Middle East, Africa, Turkey and India, said: “Despite the challenges the hospitality industry faced across the world in 2020, our sustainable business model has allowed us to stand firm performance-wise. While we continue reinforcing our position in the Middle East, where we have established a strong presence in key markets such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, our focus over the next five years is to strengthen our geographical presence in the emerging markets within Africa. We will continue to focus on strengthening our regional portfolio even further, to meet our ambitious growth plan of 10,000 units by 2025 and bring Ascott brands to key countries where the demand for internationally branded hotels and serviced apartments is on the rise.”
The international lodging owner-operator, through its sustainable service residence business model, has transformed the serviced residence industry during the 2020 calendar year, by launching innovative lodging technologies such as; ‘Ascott Cares’ and ‘Work in Residence’ initiatives, committed to providing guests with safe homes and conducive work suites, in response to the challenges imposed by Covid-19. In July 2020, as part of its ‘Ascott Cares’ initiative, the group entered into a global agreement with Bureau Veritas, the world leader in testing, inspection and certification, becoming the first serviced apartment owner-operator to receive the Bureau Veritas Hygiene Excellence and Safety Label certification. Keeping up to the same momentum in August 2020, Ascott launched efficient business models to optimise the use of property space and extend its service offerings to strengthen its dominant lodging position in the new normal. Additionally, it also introduced the ‘ASR Corporate’ promotion for business travellers, as part of its loyalty programme, and the ‘Long Stay Residential’ promotion to further support its guests.
Goh added: “While we were not spared the short-term operational impact of Covid-19, we believe that the fundamental demand for lodging remains intact and will bounce back quickly once the global pandemic is brought under control. In the meantime, we continue to seek new opportunities amid the crisis. We have capitalised on Ascott’s well-designed and spacious serviced apartments to tap on domestic demand while pursuing new businesses. Ascott’s new businesses such as the ‘Work in Residence’ and ‘Space-as-a-Service’ initiatives have generated more than S$91 million in 2020. With the global roll out of vaccines and testing protocols to facilitate the gradual resumption of international travel, Ascott will emerge stronger and deliver greater value for our partners and guests.”
Ascott’s loyalty programme Ascott Star Rewards (ASR) contributed towards supporting the company’s expansion, increasing ASR members by 45 per cent over 2019. The new Discover ASR mobile app is a one-stop 24/7 digital concierge, providing greater value and flexibility for ASR members to enhance their experience with Ascott. Through the app, ASR members can search for special deals and book their stay at about 200 participating properties in over 25 countries and more than 85 cities. Guests can also access their apartments via the app’s digital key feature. Other ASR initiatives supporting Ascott’s growth include the purchase of ASR points online, as well as the ASR Elite Status Match and CapitaStar-ASR Points Exchange programmes which allow ASR members to gain more points or upgrade their membership tier. - TradeArabia News Service