Ovolo Hotels Founder Girish Jhunjhnuwala talks about business coming back to Hong Kong.
As China and its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,
ended a requirement for incoming travelers to quarantine, marking an end to the
country’s strict “zero-COVID” policy, the question for hoteliers is how quickly
business will return.
Hotel Investment Today recently reached out to Girish
Jhunjhnuwala, founder and executive chairman of Hong Kong-based Ovolo Hotels,
to get his perspective and forecast for the rebound.
Hotel Investment Today (HIT): How quickly will business
rebound and what are your expectations for Ovolo properties in Hong Kong? And
how will you go to market differently?
Girish Jhunjhnuwala (GJ): We need to be realistic in
expecting the full rebound too soon. People will start coming back this spring
for major events like Rugby 7s, Art Basel and different exhibitions like the
Jewellery Show and HOFEX.
We expect a full rebound by the summer of 2023.
Ovolo responds quickly to market changes, that’s why we’ve
been so successful over the pandemic with Quarantine Concierge. Guests’ pain
points have changed – it is no longer room entertainment, but helping guests
explore the city in a fun and effective way. We’re supporting our guests’
adventures by providing conveniently located accommodations, and signature
perks like a social hour, in-room mini-bar, inclusive breakfast and catering
with great attention to a vegetarian lifestyle. Flexibility is key. We're
expanding our approach quicker than ever before.
HIT: How long before a return to profitability for your HK
GJ: Profitability aligns with the return of tourism and
events. We’re seeing a positive pick-up in booking across different sectors –
both for business and leisure.
Our “long-stay” properties like The Sheung Wan and The
Aberdeen By Ovolo have been performing consistently well with an occupancy of
over 80 % with many people remaining in Hong Kong for business and education.
All that goes to say, our brand is consistent, but the
strategy is different for each hotel to bring the profits back: consistently
HIT: Will this news shake lose any M&A in the market
and, if so, how?
GJ: Ovolo is always open to opportunities across the world.
Being a hotel group with origins in Hong Kong, expansion across the Asia Pacific
region is of great interest to us. With the full removal of restrictions, we’re
seeing the international curiosity in Hong Kong returning, right alongside
Importantly, when it comes to M&A, we have to also
consider hotels’ performance during COVID-19 is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
It won’t be difficult to show a great performance once the tourists and
business travelers are flowing back into the city, but how well will the same
hotels perform under tough, unpredicted circumstances is definitely to be
HIT: Do you expect to see any hotel development in the
GJ: As the market starts to recover after the effects of the
pandemic, we will see hotel developments in Hong Kong, although not in the
immediate future. In the short term, we can expect to see major conversions
taking place in the market.