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Romania's hospitality industry raises a glass to constant progress

"Slow and steady wins the race," they say, and it seems that Romania's hospitality industry plans on doing so. Step by step, the market has shown that it can grow despite certain snags and that it can attract more and more volume. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Alexandra Cioboata interviews pundits and top hotel players to mirror its potential

2017-01-17 20:39:42 - From the Print Edition

The Romanian hospitality market has been witnessing a steady growth for a few years now, with a good number of openings and large international hotel chains reaching maturity. The economic growth of the local market, which will register a five per cent increase by the end of the year, according to the International Monetary Fund, is also reflected in the travel figures involving traffic through business hubs, in incoming figures and in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sector.
With around 150 hotels and 12,500 rooms, out of which 40 per cent are part of international chains, the Bucharest hospitality market witnessed an increase of 3.9 per cent in occupancy and 5.8 per cent in average daily rate (ADR) in 2016, with an overall RevPAR (revenue per available room) growth of 9.9 per cent year-on-year, according to Smith Travel Research global data and quoted by local experts.
As in previous years, hotel managers say that the main growth indicators of the hospitality industry remain corporate investments, business travellers and the overall increase in numbers of tourists choosing Bucharest as a destination. The hotel occupancies were mainly driven by higher business demands, leading to occasional city-wide sold out situations during mid-week mainly in the business seasons spring and fall. The four- and five-star market has also witnessed a noticeable increase in weekend occupancies thanks to the leisure business, which saw interest coming from tourists from Europe, Israel, Turkey, US, Far East (especially China and Japan) and even Romania.
As per the latest data provided by the National Airport Company, in the first six months of 2016 it recorded a growth of 8.6 per cent compared to 2015 in the number of aircraft movements, an evolution that exceeds the overall growing trend within Europe. Another significant indicator is the number of airlines operating in Bucharest that increased from 31 airlines carrying passengers to 70 destinations in 2015 to 37 airlines carrying passengers to 92 destinations, according to experts.
This upward trend continues to positively impact the Romanian hospitality industry and the investments planned by major players on the four- and five-star market during the following years.
"With the first signs of the financial crisis being overcome starting in 2013-2014, we have noticed an increase in terms of operating figures in the hospitality industry as well, at least in Bucharest," Raluca Buciuc, associate director, Valuation Services and Hospitality Advisory Services, Colliers International, tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "This year, we see growth on the four- and five-star segment sustained by corporate demand, while on the three- and four-star segment we notice a higher growth due to the leisure sector. The latter comes along with the positive development of the MICE business. In addition, Bucharest is increasingly seen as a city-break destination promoted by European tour operators. Thus, we see more and more groups coming either directly into Bucharest or through Danube cruises."
However, Buciuc adds that despite the positive leisure outlook, 75 to 80 per cent of the demand continues to be generated by the corporate segment. Moreover, according to Colliers International market research for Bucharest, the RevPAR related to the four-star segment increased last year by 15 per cent compared to 2014, while this year, it remained pretty constant. The RevPAR related to the five-star section had a six per cent rise last year versus 2014, while by the end of 2016 it is expected to record an eight to nine per cent growth. The average occupancy rate in Bucharest reached 82 per cent on the four-star market and 73 to 74 per cent on the five-star one.

Hospitality snags

One of the main issues stressed by hotel managers last year was the fact that although the volumes kept growing, the rates remained behind. This year, however, showed a strong comeback in rate especially on the Luxury and Upper Upscale sections of the market. According to the aforementioned Smith Travel Research global data, 2016 year-to-date figures reveal a growth of only 0.9 per cent in occupancy compared to a 7.9 per cent increase in average rate and an overall 8.3 per cent RevPAR rise.
Nevertheless, given past years′ slow development in rate, there is still room to grow. To compare Romania with other countries in the region, Collier′s Raluca Buciuc notes that the current ADR of five-star hotels in Bucharest is around 90 Euro (88 Euro), while in Budapest (Hungary) the ADR reached 110 Euro and in Prague (Czech Republic) - 130-140 Euro. According to several players, this gap reduction can be achieved by focusing on actively promoting the destination, paired with a more audacious price strategy of the overall hospitality industry.
Besides the ADR level, the hospitality players have exposed several other bottlenecks the industry is facing. There are the well-known issues of lacking a national strategy for promoting Romania internationally, especially on high-potential markets such as Asia or USA, the ever-so-faulty infrastructure that proves the biggest bottleneck in decently connecting the capital with the rest of the country and the lack of a proper location for MICE business.
"On MICE, we witness this year an insignificant growth of two to three per cent as Bucharest does not enjoy a great infrastructure for the large conferences," says Buciuc. "We can count on Romexpo, Sala Polivalenta [Multi-Venue Hall], Sala Palatului [The Palace Hall], but they are old and unwelcoming compared to the modern standards and demands of this segment. We need help in this regard, help which should come from Romanian authorities."
In addition, according to hotel managers, the most worrisome aspect is the fact that Romania has the third-largest talent shortage in the world, as shown by the Manpower workforce report, meaning that reliable specialists are rare and rarer. Thus, the hotel chains that have set their eyes on Romania - including Bucharest - for expansion, will encounter the same issue. A solution to this problem is shown by experts: the increase of wages at the industry level that will subsequently increase the prestige of hospitality professions such as receptionist, waiter or hotel manager, which are not currently highly regarded.

Romania, still attractive for investors

Although it still encounters several difficulties, Romania continues to be an attractive market for international hotel chains such as Marriott, Rezidor, Hilton and Accor. Hilton Worldwide will open its first four-star Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Romania in 2017, a new 201-room hotel which is being built in a historical building in Bucharest′s old town. The four-star Courtyard by Marriott is another announced investment in Bucharest, while Orbis Hotel Group, which in January last year took over operations of French hotel group AccorHotels in Eastern Europe, wants to increase its hotel network on the local market, planning to open the first Ibis Styles hotel in Bucharest at the beginning of 2019.
"The hotels that want to enter the market are part of large international chains such as Marriott, Rezidor and Hilton, but they want to introduce new brands," says Buciuc. "They have already marked their presence through their flagship brands and now they want to come up with lower brands in terms of quality, but more flexible, targeting other segments or certain niches."
Buciuc goes on to add that, besides the city centre, the northern area of Bucharest is of interest to investors as there are over 200,000 sqm of office spaces. Although last year no activity has been recorded, especially due to the increase of land prices, Buciuc believes that, in the near future, hotel developers will either secure the plot for the new construction, or office buildings with high vacancy will be reconverted into hotels.

Digital importance

Digitalisation, the process of moving different operations from offline to online which maximizes the use of information in order to increase business efficiency, has become the latest buzzword in almost all economic fields and the hospitality industry is no exception. According to experts, two-thirds of travellers say that unlimited free Wi-Fi influences their accommodation option, while almost all of them research hotel reviews online prior to travel and more and more bookings are made through phone apps. In this context, hotel players have to adapt rapidly in order for their services to meet the expectations and the lifestyle pace of their guests in the future.
Worldwide, international hotel chains have already started to become innovative and develop and implement different online tools. For instance, Hilton launched both its HHonors App that helps book and choose the room, and a Digital Keys system, that has been introduced in some of the Hilton properties and enable guests to Check-In/Out using their personal mobile phones. According to the Colliers representative, Marriott has also launched a mobile room key system, Starwood (recently acquired by Marriott) offers robotic butlers, while Hyatt is highly involved in connecting with clients through social media channels.
In Romania, however, the trend has just begun. While some players are still conservative and prefer the "human contact", others have started to import the international know-how. Thus, for instance, Sheraton Bucharest Hotel (part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide) plans to have a keyless system to access to the rooms through smartphones in the next few months, while Athenee Palace Hilton Bucuresti representatives say that, in the next few years, the clients will have the possibility of entirely customizing their stay in advance: from choosing their exact room from digital floor plans, to purchasing upgrades and making special requests for items to be delivered in the room.
"Nowadays, the hospitality market is increasingly focused on environment, sustainability, green certification of the buildings and on creating a strong image and brand through global expansion, in this way reaching also Romania," says Buciuc, quoting academic researchers. "Technology is another current general trend which has also been spotted in Romania. I cannot say that the local hospitality market is at the same digital level as others, but maybe the local hotel players would like that. And this should be the next step in the industry′s development."
Next, The Diplomat - Bucharest talks to four- and five-star hotel players to see what kind of digital plans they have up their sleeve, what 2016 has brought for their businesses on the local market and what their main objectives are for the following period.

Radisson Blu: Digitalisation becomes a basic requirement for guests staying at the hotel

Digitalisation is and will remain the buzzword for some years to come and Radisson Blu hotel in Bucharest, the largest five-star hospitality unit in Romania with 487 rooms, embraced the concept, as the brand developed an application called "One Touch App". According to Markus Kraus, general manager of Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest and Park Inn by Radisson Bucharest Hotel & Residence, this is an essential tool to help ensure that guests have a positive experience in the hotels and it is a key point of reference for offers, hotel information and local destination content.
"Digitalisation has not only influenced the way hotels are compared, selected and booked through the various digital channels, but it also becomes a basic requirement for guests staying at the hotels," Kraus tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "More and more hotel services are linked to apps that greatly influence the customer journey. From the pre-arrival, throughout the stay, up until the post-stay feedback and hotel recommendation, all moves gradually to the digital platforms. Part of this fast service digitalisation, the Radisson Blu brand developed an application called One Touch App."
Kraus also stresses that due to the digital trend, hotels, prices and services become more easily comparable and, as a result, service and product differentiation becomes more important. However, although there is a higher degree of digitalisation, the desire for a personal and personalized service is not decreasing.
"It′s true, nowadays you could check-in and -out to a hotel without even seeing any hotel employee," he says. "Technically, this could all be done through a smart phone. In return, customers do expect a lot of personalization during their stays. From the personalized welcome message, preferred in-room amenities all the way to their favourite drink at the hotel bar. Today′s hotelier better make sure he/she knows the preferences of the modern travellers in order to impress and retain them."
Speaking about tourism, Kraus notes that leisure travel is still fairly underdeveloped in Romania. Nevertheless, aside from digitalisation, he notices a globalisation of the leisure travel market with particular interest from the Asian continent. "There is a huge potential for Romania as it can offer a lot," he says. "From fantastic sceneries to interesting cities, from a rich heritage of history and culture to wonderful hospitable and mostly multilingual Romanians. (...) In all our efforts to develop leisure tourism, we should always keep the huge potential from Greater China in mind."
The general manager runs a total of 763 units of which 487 rooms operate under the Radisson Blu brand, 210 under the Park Inn by Radisson brand (opened in the second half of last year) and 66 still unbranded. Radisson Blu hotel registered an occupancy rate above 80 per cent this year. For the following period, Kraus discloses that the unit will have upgraded facilities, while the Human Resources department will be revamped as the lack of qualified personnel is becoming more and more visible.
"We are investing in upgrading our existing Radisson Blu facilities and adding another food and beverage outlet in order to further increase the dining options for our guests," he says. "The war for talent has also reached the hospitality industry in Bucharest. We are taking a strategic approach to this issue and will revamp our Human Resources initiatives. With a reputation for being the preferred hotel for customers, we also want to become the preferred employer in our industry," he concludes.

InterContinental Bucharest maintains its growing trend from 2015

Five-star hotel InterContinental Bucharest, counting 257 rooms and 14 meeting rooms, maintains its growing trend this year and registers an occupancy level of around 80 per cent, higher than the previous year, according to Mihaela Iordache, executive assistant manager of sales and marketing. The leisure segment has benefited from a steady growth over the last couple of years, but it still remains below the business section, with a 35 per cent coverage compared to 65 per cent for the latter. In addition, the food and beverage department saw a slight increase in 2016, as the unit started to be more active in promoting its offers to local customers as well as to its in-house guests.
"Bucharest continues to be on the right track," Iordache tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "The city′s and country′s reputation is constantly improving and this is visible when you look at the number of flights as well as in the feedback we have on different social media channels and review sites. InterContinental Bucharest maintains its growing trend from 2015, with a steady development both in occupancy and ADR as well as RevPAR, in line with the market and the Luxury/Upper Upscale sub-segment."
Iordache goes on to add that nowadays, in the travel industry, most of bookings are operated online and the travellers experience generates valuable content for other travellers as well as for destinations and businesses. Thus, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts as a brand has put effort into creating specific online tools for guests and meeting planners to facilitate their interaction with the destinations and with the hotels, she says.
"Locally, we switched our communication to online and digital to support our products and promotions, and this proved to be a smart move a few years ago," adds Iordache. "Our local events website www.eventsinbucharest.ro is a good investment as it drives preference and increases our revenues especially in the social events field. (...) One of our main goals is to further develop our communication with all stakeholders in order to remain one of the first choices when it comes to bookings, events and as an employer."
Speaking about the prospects of the hospitality market, Iordache notes that, together with associations in the field, InterContinental is in touch with the authorities in the effort to put Romania and Bucharest on the tourist map. According to her, much improved destination marketing is essential for Bucharest as a city and Romania as a country, while a modern conference centre is urgently needed. "Bucharest starts to become an interesting destination for big events - concerts, sport events, festivals," she says. "This is why we urgently need a modern conference centre to accommodate big conferences and association meetings as well as indoor sport events," she concludes.

Athenee Palace Hilton sees demand from guests coming from Western Europe, Israel, US and domestic market

Five-star Athenee Palace Hilton Bucuresti, counting 272 rooms, rides on a high trend in 2016, forecasting a great performance year as it sees an increase in demand for occupancy, for events, and in its restaurants as well. In addition, the unit registered a growing trend on the leisure segment compared to business for 2016, as there was a higher demand for city breaks and leisure groups, according to Aykut Korkmaz, general manager of Athenee Palace Hilton Bucuresti. He notes that weekends are having a higher occupancy rate than past years during the entire high season, from May to October, with its guests being attracted towards cultural sightseeing, nightlife, shopping and casinos.
"This year, at Athenee Palace Hilton, we increased both in business and in leisure," Korkmaz tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "For the latter segment, the enlarged demand comes from a development of Bucharest as a leisure destination. Compared to previous years when Bucharest was known more for business, in recent years and in 2016 in particular, we have seen an increase for leisure and a demand from guests coming from Western Europe, Israel, US, and the domestic market as well, precisely due to the fact that the city became more attractive for tourists who come here for cultural and relaxation reasons."
Another stimulator of the hospitality industry stressed by Korkmaz is represented by multinationals that included Bucharest as a MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and events] destination for group conferences and cycle-meetings, thus bringing a considerable number of business representatives to the city. Moreover, according to him, an opportunity would be the development of an Official Convention Centre in Bucharest to attract planners, attendees and exhibitors, "which would benefit both the city, for better promoting it as a travel destination, and the hospitality industry which could take advantage from the creation of this kind of office," he says.
Speaking about the digital trend in the hospitality market, the GM notes that Hilton is always trying to be at the forefront of evolution in technology. "From the HHonors App that helps book and choose the room, to the latest Digital Keys, introduced in some of the Hilton properties and which enable guests to Check-In/Out using their personal mobile phones, the future of hospitality resides in offering a guest the possibility of entirely customizing their stay in advance: from choosing their exact room from digital floor plans, to purchasing upgrades and making special requests for items to be delivered in the room," he says. "This feature will also be implemented locally in a few years."
One of the main goals for next year of the hotel is to attract as many guests as possible into its HHonors loyalty programme, by offering benefits when booking through Hilton channels, such as its website or HHonors App. Also, another objective is to continue promoting Bucharest as a destination, by continuing to target leisure guests from markets such as UK, Germany, USA and attracting them for city-breaks and weekend escapes.

Sheraton continues on its growing path and plans to expand by up to 100 rooms in the future

Five-star Sheraton Bucharest Hotel, which officially opened its gates in September last year after a seven-million Euro investment, counts 12 meeting rooms and 270 rooms, including 27 Suites and one Presidential suite. Daniel Ben-Yehuda, general manager of the unit, believes that Bucharest is currently witnessing an undersupply of five-star hotels as during high season it is difficult to find accommodation. Thus, Sheraton acquired this year a next-door plot and plans to increase its room capacity by up to 100 units to keep up with the demand, according to the general manager.
"The average occupancy rate of the hotel was above past years and we have joined the occupancy levels of our competitors, but during September and October we were almost at full capacity," he says. "It is impossible to find a five-star room during that time, especially in mid-week. We feel that if we had more rooms, we would have sold them, so the logical thing to do is to increase the size. We have acquired a parcel of land next door where we plan to build a beautiful spa, another banqueting facility, a big meeting room and some extra bigger rooms, between 60 and 100. The plan stretches over the next three years and the investment will be quite substantial."
The general manager goes on to add that another consequence of demand being higher than the supply is the rate increase. He estimates that the ADR is on an increasing trend. For Sheraton, however, the increase surpassed ten per cent this year, as the unit shifted from a four-star [formerly Howard Johnson] to a five-star hotel. Nevertheless, the rates are still lagging behind other markets, with plenty of room to grow, he says.
Speaking about the hospitality industry, Ben-Yehuda notes that the business segment continues to be the main growth driver, as it has seen increases year by year. Moreover, the market has also started to attract more and more leisure travellers from Israel, Turkey, China and Japan, while the Danube cruises seem to become increasingly popular.
"Since the crises, the business segment is constantly growing as more and more international corporations are opening headquarters here or are expanding their business," he says. "In addition, the leisure market is growing, especially the traditional one through the Danube river. We are becoming a very big attraction for tourists from a few destinations like Israel, Turkey, China and Japan. It seems to be a trend."
The general manager also emphasises one of the biggest bottlenecks of Bucharest, namely the lack of a convention centre, which leads to the fact that large companies organising big annual conventions do not consider Romania as a possible location.
The digital trend noticed in the market is embraced by Sheraton as well. According to the general manager, the hotel offers to clients the possibility to easily communicate with the hotel team through an application, Let′s Chat, based on the WhatsApp platform. In addition, the hotel plans to invest in a new digital project and have a keyless system to access to the rooms through smartphones.
"Since our main clients are business people, working with high-tech industry leaders for instance, we have to stimulate them, offer them the same level of activity they are used to on a daily basis," he says. "We are going to start having keyless access to the rooms. One can download an application to the smartphone, put the device next to the key and open the door. This is going to happen in the next few months. We want to surprise the expectations of our clients."
Sheraton Bucharest Hotel, with 260 employees, is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which was recently acquired by Marriott International, creating the largest hotel company worldwide. Combined, the companies operate or franchise more than 5,500 hotels with 1.1 million rooms.

Epoque Hotel plans to reach 2.4 million Euro revenues this year

Bucharest′s five-star boutique hotel Epoque reported a 1.75 million Euro turnover in the first nine months of 2016, which shows a six per cent year-on-year increase, mainly due to a 41 per cent rise in MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sales and to an 11 per cent growth seen by the à la carte restaurant, according to Diana Popescu, owner and CEO of Epoque Hotel. She also estimates a total turnover of 2.4 million Euro by the end of 2016, representing an eight per cent year-on-year increase.
"We have seen a significant growth in MICE sales this year, which shows maturity of both the business market and of our own brand of events services, Epoque Events Gallery," Popescu tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "Our MICE revenues have grown by a significant 41 per cent over 2015 and our events calendar shows increased booking and planning stability. Of course, our busiest seasons are the business seasons from March-June and September-November, complemented by Christmas, end of year celebrations and the weddings and private events outside the Christian fasting periods."
Epoque has 45 suites and in the first nine months of 2016 the unit operated with an average occupancy of 70 per cent during weekdays and 64 per cent during the weekends. Epoque′s guests are 85 per cent international travellers coming from Europe, Asia and America, mainly from markets such as USA, UK, Israel, France and Germany.
The business segment makes up for 70 per cent of Epoque′s activity, but Popescu has seen a steady growth of weekend/leisure occupancy for a few years now. In addition, the CEO explains that the hotel has a steady year-on-year occupancy as it focuses on the strategic objective to increase the RevPAR (revenue per available room) through ADR (average daily rate).
"Since the end of the economic crisis, the focus has been on volumes, yes, which proves counter-productive in the long run," says the owner of the boutique hotel. "Focusing on raising the ADR is showing that a market segment is reaching maturity, and this is what begins to happen now. (...) Our objectives for the end of 2016 and for next year continue to aim at increasing our F&B [food and beverage] and events segment, as well as raising our ADR, thus capitalizing productivity on the accommodation structure," she adds.
Popescu goes on to highlight that the greatest part of the hotel′s marketing resources goes into digital tools, as she is aware that travel choices are made almost exclusively online. "I make it my top priority to reach out to our guests and encourage them to express their impressions of their experience with us, and I deeply value and promptly answer guest reviews," she says. "Online reputation is of the essence, and I am happy to see how Epoque maintains the same outstanding ratings through the years, ranking first on the five-star segment in Bucharest."
Speaking also about the main bottlenecks encountered by the industry, Popescu stresses the lack of a national strategy for promoting Romania internationally, the infrastructure that hinders the proper connection of the capital with the rest of the country and the talent shortage. "In a people-oriented industry such as ours, staff is vital for providing impeccable service, so we all need to prioritize staff training and formation," she concludes.

Cismigiu: We should raise the prestige of the industry professions

Marking four years since the cutting of the ribbon, four-star hotel Cismigiu, owned by Spanish company Hercesa and managed by Georgeta Grecu, saw a positive development this year, registering 15 per cent growth in terms of occupancy rate, surpassing 75 per cent, and a six per cent rise in terms of average daily rate (ADR), according to the general manager. Counting 60 apartments, the hotel attracted around 70 per cent corporate clients and 30 per cent leisure, of which are mainly families coming from Europe and Israel.
"I think that the hospitality industry is a very good indicator for the increase or decrease of the economy," Grecu tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "We have felt this growth since 2014 and this year the rise was very high, sustained by both business and leisure segments. In terms of Cismigiu, we have noticed a double-digit growth for the occupancy rate, up 15 per cent, followed by an increase of the turnover - which will have between eight and ten per cent growth by the end of the year, and by an increase in ADR of six per cent."
Grecu goes on to say that Cismigiu even registered a 90 per cent occupancy rate in certain months, a nice-to-have figure, but hard to manage due to the lack of qualified personnel. She also notes that there are several hotel chains that have set their eyes on Romania, including Bucharest, for expansion, but have encountered the same issue. A solution to this problem could be the increase of wages at the industry level that, subsequently, will increase the prestige of the profession.
"It is very hard to find and employ qualified personnel," she says. "We can talk about a lack of demography as universities targeting this domain do not have enough students. And those who do exist, are not very much interested in working in hospitality industry, as certain jobs are not highly regarded. Thus, we should raise the prestige of the professions, be it receptionist, waiter or hotel manager. Another solution could be represented by the dual system, which I encourage and support."
Cismigiu has also shifted its focus from long-stays to short-stays, as the former has dropped by more than 20 per cent this year and by 25 per cent last year, mainly due to a higher competition in the long-term rental market.
This June the four-star hotel opened a 250,000 Euro restaurant for social occasions, which can accommodate up to 100 people. For the next year, Grecu expects further increases in terms of ADR and revenues.

Pullman Bucharest increased its occupancy by 15 per cent in the first ten months

Four-star Pullman Bucharest, affiliated to the AccorHotels network and managed by AccorHotels′ strategic partner in the region, Orbis Hotel Group, has seen a growth this year which has been within the trend of the group, both in volumes and in rates, according to Patrick Carabin, general manager of the unit. Counting 204 rooms, Pullman Bucharest registered over the first ten months of the year an increase of occupancy by 15 per cent compared to the same period of last year.
In addition, the GM states that the unit has strengthened its position within the business travel market, which represents over 80 per cent of its activity. At the same time, it has initiated partnerships with leading travel agencies and local attractions, to further develop its leisure offering. Consequently, Pullman managed to double its revenue on this segment.
"Since most of our guests are business travellers, the dynamism of the corporate segment has been one of our key factors of growth this year," Carabin tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "The ascending trend has been also enhanced by the addition of new flights to and from Bucharest, which make the Romanian capital an important gateway city in the region. We′ve also seen a strong growth of the leisure segment, as Bucharest and Romania in general enter the spotlight of the modern travellers. However, when referring to local attractions, we cannot avoid mentioning the poor infrastructure, which still limits the country′s potential as a leisure destination."
For AccorHotels, digitalisation is a key pillar of the company′s growth strategy, according to the general manager of Pullman. In 2015, AccorHotels has re-launched accorhotels.com, the group′s joint online sales and distribution platform, as well as the AccorHotels mobile app. In terms of sales, digital platforms currently account for more than 40 per cent of Pullman′s bookings.
"With its mobile solution, AccorHotels aims to become one of the leading tools for travellers, offering an enhanced experience at all the stages of their journey: before the stay, by saving all relevant flight or train details, keeping record of all recent bookings and providing the Welcome by Le Club AccorHotels service for online check-in and fast check-out; during the actual journey, with access to digital press, city guides and other complementary services to be introduced gradually, such as booking cab rides and ordering room service; and after the stay, through the management of Le Club AccorHotels, the group′s loyalty program," he adds.
Across 2016, Pullman Bucharest has registered greater dynamics in the F&B segment, as a result of the significant increase in the flow of the restaurants and bar. Currently, F&B represent major revenue in the hotel, says Carabin. One of the key goals of the hotel for 2017 consists in the renovation of the hotel rooms and public areas. "We are equally focused on strengthening our digital presence and impact, both in terms of sales and communication," he concludes.

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