Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Frasers Targets 'Road Warriors'

Source : The Straits Times, August 19, 2008

FRASERS Hospitality is cashing in on a newly emerging class of business traveller, known as 'road warriors', with the launch of a new, lower-tiered brand of serviced apartments early next year.

The new apartments, to be branded Modena, will cater to business travellers who are on the road so often that high-end accommodation is unrealistic.

Frasers Hospitality currently operates only the Frasers brand, which is a high-end or five-star brand. The first Modena apartments will be in China.

'There's a market for road warriors. It's not necessarily budget,' said Frasers Hospitality chief executive officer Choe Peng Sum of its Modena brand. Frasers Hospitality is the serviced apartment arm of conglomerate Fraser & Neave.

'It's for the people who are travelling so much...If they start staying in Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, they would bust their budget.'

It's a huge and growing market. Mr Choe said the firm sees a market in China, India, Europe and South-east Asia.

'I would even say it's for the Generation Y road warriors,' he said. The Modena brand will be easier to expand because the market is not as well covered and there is a huge market especially in emerging markets, he said.

Modena can also be sited in areas just outside the central business district and rooms will be smaller than the Fraser brand properties.

In a separate development, the company also told The Straits Times that it will launch its third serviced apartment property in Singapore later this year at Fusionopolis in one-north. Called Fraser Place Fusionopolis, it will be launched in October and opened in November.

It will be a fairly small property with 50 loft units based on the 'work, live and play' concept promoted at one-north. Frasers Hospitality will manage the property - owned by JTC Corp - under a 10-year contract. The other two properties are Fraser Suites in River Valley and Fraser Place in Robertson Quay.

The firm remains optimistic on the business outlook, though the global financial turmoil triggered by the sub-prime problems in the United States has hit the hospitality industry in the region to some extent.

Mr Choe said the banking and financial industries have been affected somewhat but they are prepared for it. 'We have seen this coming and, therefore, we have shifted very heavily into the shipping, petrochemical industries.'

At present, bookings for Frasers apartments boast a three-month waiting list in Singapore, he said.

The Ascott group is adding two more properties in Singapore under its Ascott and Citadines brands. But the serviced apartment market in Singapore still has a limited supply of branded serviced apartments, said Mr Choe.

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