Preferred to roll out China-friendly initiatives

24 Oct 2013 by Clement Huang

Preferred Hotel Group has revealed that it will be launching a “China Ready Program”  in January, to attract outbound Chinese travellers to its independent hotel brand members throughout the world.

Group representative Peggy Yip explained that “it's not been officially announced yet, but since we're at ITB [Asia] I wanted to share with you a bit about how we will be bringing the Preferred Hotel Group to the China market.”

As part of this initiative, sales offices have been set up in Beijing and Shanghai, a social media presence has been established on Sina Weibo and an entirely separate version of the Preferred Hotels website in simplified Chinese will be launched at the end of November.

“Currently our platforms are all in English. Our website will be available in Japanese and German by the first quarter of next year, but the Chinese version is a little different – it will have a separate URL, and it will be managed and hosted in Mainland China,” Yip said.

The group is also finding Chinese partners to cooperate with, but details are still under wraps, she said: “we will tie up our operations with another airline – soon to be announced.”

Capturing the Chinese market – which last year became the world's number one outbound market, valued at US$102 billion according to the UNWTO – is a high priority for the hotel group, and the programme has been designed to support this process in ways beyond the website.

“The China Ready Program is to help our member hotels be connected to the Chinese market – not to groups, but to outbound, FIT, high-end travellers... there are certain amenities Chinese travellers typically want, so we have provided a checklist of items to be provided to give them a more comfortable environment.”

The group also announced that the entirely new loyalty programme launched by the hotel group two months ago, entitled iPrefer, has experienced huge success so far.

According to Yip, it has created a 2 per cent year-on-year increase on website visits since its launch, and bookings have increased by 10 per cent. Within the first week of the introduction alone, there was a booking increase of 37 per cent. There has also been 45 per cent more (year-on-year) new members signing up, and 7000 members have updated their profile online since it was launched.

But there's yet more to come, Yip said. “This was just the first phase. iPrefer 2.0 will include a brand new, mobile-friendly, image-driven website with improved navigation, and the abilitity for guests to purchase gift cards with their points and purchase points for upgrades."

Preferred Hotel Group has over 650 members in 85 countries. In China there are 24 hotels that are part of the group, five of which participate in the iPrefer programme. In the last quarter there has been 42 new hotels join the portfolio.

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Alex Andersson

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