SINGAPORE: Get used to the word “bleisure”. It may sound like slang that grates on language purists, but the portmanteau of business and leisure describes a travel trend that is music to Singapore hoteliers’ ears.
Bleisure visitors – business travellers who come here with their spouses and make it both a work and leisure trip – helped buoy Singapore’s hotel industry in 2023 and are set to continue doing so into 2024.
“Before, the business person travelled alone. But now, after Covid-19, a businesswoman might bring her husband along, add two to three days and it becomes a leisure trip. We see this trend picking up,” said William Haandrikman, managing director of Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford.
Cinn Tan, chief commercial and marketing officer of the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, said the bleisure trend, driven as well by professionals taking advantage of the remote work and hybrid work models, contributed to the increasing popularity of longer trips.
Angela HanLee, a senior research analyst covering Asia-Pacific gaming and hospitality at Bloomberg Intelligence, said “growth that we saw for 2023 for Singapore is mainly due to the pickup of business travellers, and leisure will pick up in 2024 but not as strong”.
The two integrated resorts – Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) – have benefited from bleisure. Analysts said MBS looks to be ahead of the bleisure game for now, but RWS is expected to catch up.
MBS’ revenue is already back to pre-pandemic levels, noted Hanlee.
“MBS, with easy access for tourists, enjoyed an influx of wealthy foreigners to the city on business trips,” she said, adding that it had probably captured the business travellers earlier in 2023.
RWS’ recovery has been slower than MBS’ in 2023, but HanLee said it can cater for an increase in tourist inflows during holidays and when flight capacity increases.
“Sentosa is picking up the demand during the third quarter of 2023, which is the peak season,” she added.
RWS is ready to welcome more guests. An RWS spokesperson said its recently renovated Hotel Ora, a new business-leisure hotel, has received “enthusiastic visitor response”.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, RWS’ third-quarter earnings for 2023 before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) reached 126% compared with pre-pandemic levels, up from 91% in the second quarter of 2023.
Genting Singapore, which owns RWS, is estimated to recover faster than expected, according to the Bloomberg analyst.
HanLee said Genting’s post-pandemic earnings growth is picking up momentum. The group’s operating metrics, including net revenue, adjusted ebitda and net profit, could exceed pre-pandemic figures by 2024, ahead of Bloomberg’s earlier prediction for 2025, she added.
Other industry trends for 2024 – based on traveller demands – are for unique and premium wellness and dining experiences, and what hotels are doing on the sustainability front.
David Mann, chief Mastercard economist of Asia-Pacific and Middle East Africa at Mastercard Economics Institute, said in a report that tourists from the Chinese mainland focused heavily on shopping, particularly for luxury goods, when travelling internationally pre-pandemic.
He said: “Post-pandemic, spending on experiences such as entertainment and dining have seen a stronger recovery among early travellers out of the Chinese mainland. This shift in travel spending priorities suggests that tourism authorities and retailers globally may have to adapt their strategies to maintain their appeal to Chinese visitors.” — The Straits Times/ANN
Source: The Star