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Hotels get in on Singles' Day annual promotions

By YUAN SHENGGAO | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-12 07:33
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Industry embraces festive opportunity to sell more rooms in off-peak season

In an offseason surrounded by COVID-related uncertainties, hotels are looking to seize opportunities to attract customers and generate cash flow, including this year's Nov 11 Singles' Day shopping festival. China's biggest online shopping event kicked off on Oct 24 and ended on Friday.

Wu Duohe, a resident of Haikou in South China's Hainan province, purchased a two-night stay at the Sanya Marriott Yalong Bay Resort and Spa in Hainan for 1,898 yuan ($264) during a livestream promotion on online travel platform Fliggy.

"I took note of the room rates of past years. The Nov 11 shopping festival offer for this year is very attractive, which is equivalent to a 50 percent discount," Wu told Hainan Daily.

Liu Qiuping, an executive of the hotel, told the newspaper that the hotel joined the Nov 11 sales campaigns through online travel platforms at the end of October. As of Nov 1 it had sold more than 8,000 room nights. These are valid until June 2023, which allows flexibility for customers.

To encourage people to place an order, some hotels promote refundable, long-validity products that can be used together or separately, and across different brands.

For example, hotels including Grand Hyatt Shenzhou Peninsula in Hainan are offering packages that can be purchased now but refunded later if the customer doesn't make a reservation, Hainan Daily reported.

Yang Yanfeng, director of the Online Tourism Research Center at Beijing Union University, noted that packages offered by quite a few hotels were popular in the warm-up period to the shopping gala. The best-selling products saw order numbers exceed 30,000, China Tourism News reported.

In addition to traditional online travel agencies, hotels are launching promotional campaigns on platforms such as short video app TikTok and lifestyle-focused social networking site Xiaohongshu.

"The valuable cash flow generated (during the Nov 11 shopping event) can go a long way in helping the hotel industry weather these tough times and address pressing needs," China Tourism News quoted Yang as saying.

Yang's opinion was echoed by Wu Liyun, an associate professor at the China Academy of Culture and Tourism Industry at Beijing International Studies University. She told China Tourism News that pre-sales were an important approach to increasing hotels' cash flow and boosting consumer confidence amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

International hotel brands that seldom took part in the shopping festival before have participated this year, Wu noted.

But participating in the headline-making annual shopping gala doesn't mean that every hotel can rake in huge profits in a matter of weeks. The industry faces increasing pressure from fiercer competition and lower demand.

Xia Liang, general manager of Jinling Hotel Beijing, told China Tourism News that COVID-19 has dampened consumer enthusiasm for hotel stays.

To ensure that more bookings convert into actual sales and to improve customer satisfaction, Xia suggested that in the event of a cancellation, the hotel staff should contact the guest to learn about their specific needs and propose solutions such as extending the validity period, according to China Tourism News.

Li Guangpeng, general manager of Club Med Joyview Beijing Yanqing Resort, told China Tourism News: "This year, we are trying to make sure that our members have an easier time using their booked products by putting in place a simpler and more efficient reservation procedure."

He said that apart from external factors and hotels' policies, the attractiveness of the product itself is critical. For that reason, the resort is hosting events with different themes every month or even every weekend to keep customers interested.

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