Hong Kong hospitality brand Dorsett Hospitality International is one of Asia’s fastest-growing hotel groups and has a footprint that spans the world. Here, RLI sits down with Winnie Chiu, JP, President and Executive Director of the company to discuss their international expansion plans and what is in the pipeline.
The Dorsett Hospitality International group was established in January 2007 and the company has grown in leaps and bounds ever since. Their brands include Dorsett Hotels, d.Collection, Silka Hotels, Agora Hotels and Dao by Dorsett and in total the company now operates 64 properties in 30 cities worldwide.
“In the past ten years, the company has expanded rapidly from 11 hotels with 3,600 rooms in three geographies to 64 hotels with a total of over 14,000 rooms across Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Australia, UK and Continental Europe,” explains Winnie Chiu, President and Executive Director.
In the coming months the business is very excited for their first hotel in Australia, which is set to soft-open at the end of this year and it will be called Dorsett Gold Coast.
Also set to launch towards the end of 2021 is their new aparthotel concept Dao by Dorsett in West London next to their flagship UK property, Dorsett Shepherds Bush. Dao West London will offer a younger feel and more flexibility with comfortable studio rooms all furnished with kitchenettes, shared co-living spaces and pop-ups with local brands.
When discussing the future, Chiu explains that they have always focused on opening in key getaway cities as these locations already have the infrastructure in place to act as hubs for both leisure travellers and business travellers.
“To target there travel segments, it is our strategy to be very city-focused. We often open several properties in a city to tailor our product and service offerings and capitalise on our insider knowledge of the market.”
New markets the company are looking at currently include key European cities such as Paris as well as Amsterdam, whilst the UK remains an exciting location. Outside of Europe, Dorsett already operate a large footprint in Malaysia, Hong Kong and China and they have 12 hotels in the development pipeline for Australia.
“What attracts me the most to new properties is how much potential there is to add value and how they can enhance the community and area around the development,” says Chiu.
Maintaining an attractive and unique portfolio is an important facet for the brand, especially as their flagship Dorsett Hotel properties are all located in central locations of the cities where they are situated – becoming a part of the local neighbourhood around their sites is a key differentiator.
Be it partnerships with up-and-coming coffee shops or inviting local guest performers for their Dorsett Wine Hour, their hotel experience is closely tied to what’s new and exciting around the city as well as globally. “As the official hotel partner for Affordable Art Fair and the World Photography Organisation who host the Sony World Photography Awards, we often curate travelling art exhibitions showcasing new talent from across the world in our properties,” Chiu highlights.
When staying at a Dorsett property, guests are able to truly tailor their stays for the purpose of their travel thanks to the Dorsett 3 Wishes programme. This allows them to choose if they would prefer breakfast with their room, a local sightseeing experience or free laundry and pressing service for people on business trips. Furthermore, their global Dorsett 26-hours stay allows travellers passing through a whole 26-hour stay from whenever they check-in to the hotel. These types of guest programmes are all built on the company’s core values and ethos of innovation, integrity, initiative and inspiration.
Dorsett have embraced the importance of online channels and social media and have found them extremely useful in giving them guest feedback in real-time, something that has been invaluable during the pandemic so they could learn what their quarantined quests needed and what they could improve on.
For example, last year their Dorsett hotels in Hong Kong launched an online ‘Dorsett Mart’ which provided essentials such as groceries, charging cables, rentable gym equipment as well as CBD oils to take care of their guests’ mental and physical wellbeing.
The key drivers behind Dorsett Hospitality International’s success are good people, clear goals and a willingness to collaborate and share resources for bigger growth and success.
“We are very data-driven with a strong focus on returns. Our strategy has always taken a very rooms-focused approach, making sure we have good profit margins set in place. There is a Chinese saying: “A rising tide lifts all boats.” We are very happy when our partners can share our success.”
As the interview comes to an end, Chiu explains that the pandemic remains the greatest challenge the company is facing as hotels were one of the first industries to be affected by the pandemic after travel virtually came to a halt and it may be one of the last to recover as outbreaks continue across the world.
“In light of the pandemic, I feel an even stronger responsibility to lead the way for sustainability in the real estate and hotel industry. We are actively looking for ways to be more sustainable on all levels and will be moving towards more modular construction when developing new properties and integrating solar panels alongside our community work,” Chiu concludes.