Winnie Chiu, President of Kosmopolito Hotels International
While all hotel companies are ultimately judged on their bottom line, one Hong Kong-based hotelier is taking the numbers game to a whole new level. Kosmopolito Hotels International is in the process of undertaking a strategic expansion plan, based on the provision of highly-targeted, user-friendly products offered with maximum efficiency.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Daily at ITB Asia in Singapore, Kosmopolito’s newly-appointed President, Winnie Chiu (pictured above) revealed the company’s measured approach to expansion.
“It’s all about margins,” said the young, fast-talking Ms Chiu. “Our hotels keep a low staff-to-guest ratio, and our general managers are judged on the revenue their hotels generate per square foot. But all of our GMs are former directors of sales, so they are well placed to drive results. We also outsource our F&B outlets, but that’s not to say we compromise on quality. Two of our Hong Kong hotels currently feature Michelin-star rated restaurants.”
The focus on value-for-money is apparent in Kosmopolito’s existing portfolio and expansion strategy. As a hotel owner, as well as operator, the company is strongly affected by trends in the real estate market. While 10 of the company’s 23-strong portfolio is in Hong Kong, Ms Chiu admitted that land prices in the city were become prohibitive to growth.
“Hong Kong’s becoming too expensive, but we’re continuously looking for good opportunities to come along. We’ve started converting old industrial buildings in the city as they offer a lot more value for money, as well as having more character,” she revealed.
Kosmopolito has been similarly astute in the location of its first property in London. The site, close to the huge Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush area of the city, has one key advantage. “We chose Shepherd’s Bush as Chinese travellers love indoor shopping centres,” Ms Chiu explained.
This connection to retail sector is another theme that runs through the Kosmopolito strategy. The company’s aptly-labelled ‘value’ hotel brand, Silka offers room keys that double up as discount cards at local retail outlets. The brand also features a minibar items at supermarket prices.
While ‘value’ is a key word in the company’s lexicon, it is backed-up by a focus on consumer needs.
“It’s about understanding our customers,” Ms Chiu said. “We have the same customers travelling for different reasons. If a business traveller comes to Hong Kong he might stay at the (four-star) Dorsett Regency Hotel Hong Kong for example or any of our boutique series hotels. If we provide a good service he may then take his family to the value-led Silka hotels. ‘Value’ is the label we use for the Silka brand, but we want to offer good value at all our properties. This is how we exceed expectations; by keeping a low profile then surprising people.”
Kosmopolito currently has a portfolio of 23 hotels in Hong Kong, mainland China and Malaysia, but plans to expand fast with new properties planned in key cities including London and Singapore. With an ever-increasing pipeline, Ms Chiu believes her company’s efficient, streamlined approach to business will help smooth the wheels of expansion.
“We have a small group of dynamic people; we need to respond quickly so there’s no time for bureaucracy or red tape,” said Ms Chiu. The speed and matter-of-factness of her speech clearly reflects this sentiment. One thing is clear; we will be hearing more about Kosmopolito’s digit-driven development – and sooner rather than later.
By Mark Elliott