Singapore is one of the places backpackers have their short pre-stopovers, taking the opportunity to explore the city at the same time. Therefore, this business plan explores the idea of setting up a new budget hotel in lieu of the recent trend of backpacking. 2.1. Overall Market Demand
Budget travelling in the past is often associated with the idea of backpacking where the original backpackers are not regarded as legitimate tourists. Today, there is an emerging trend of budget travellers, due to the rise of low-cost carriers, creating a “significant tourist market” all over the world. Budget travellers are usually young, aging from 18 – 35 years old, and are not only constrained to backpackers alone. These travellers are usually adventurous and price conscious who prefer budgeted accommodations, allowing them to spend the rest of their travelling finances on other activities. Singapore, being located in South East Asia (the “oldest backpacker trails”), is one of the common places backpackers have a pre-stopover before heading off their next destination, therefore, leading to the rising number of budget hotels and hostels. In fact, some budget hotels are aiming to go upmarket to cater to the increasing trend of flashpackers (budget travellers who have a bit more cash to spare). This proposed new budget hotel aims to cater to such travellers and the mass market budget travellers coming from all around the world. 2.2. Overall Business Environment
Cost is a huge factor travellers consider, however, travellers also consider the reviews of the hostel before making their decision. Currently, there are approximately about 66 backpacking hostels in Singapore. The amount of hostels is increasing steadily to cater to the rising numbers of tourists in Singapore for inaugural events such as the recent F1 race. In general, it is relatively easy to enter the market due to low barriers of entries. However, the reputation of the backpacker hostel is one important factor that enables the hotel to survive. Therefore, to ensure the success of the hostel, owners will have to ensure that it is not only price competitive, it also must be comparable in terms of reputation. This proposed hotel will be able to sustain due to rising popularity low cost carriers. People are now hunting for the cheapest ticket in the market instead of cancelling their trips. At the same time, to allow travellers to spend more on the activities that tend
to interest them more such as food and shopping. The proposed budget hotel will be able to provide travellers with a proper and comfortable accommodation without having them to spend too much during their stay in Singapore. 2. Proposed Backpacker Hotel
To be known as an affordable hotel provider of that aims to create a personalize experience for each guest 3.4. Mission
To create a homely atmosphere within the hotel coupling with friendly and warm staff members As mentioned in the Vision and Mission, the proposed hotel aims to create a “it feels like home” feeling for its guests. Apart from having the basic necessities in the hotel, the hotel will provide various activities such as free Wi-Fi, board and computer games for hotel guests to relax and enjoy themselves. 3.5. Backpacker Hotel Plan
Location is one of the important factors in which travellers consider when choosing a hotel apart from price and the given reviews. The proposed backpacker hotel should be located near the MRT station allowing other parts of the country to be accessible. The management has narrowed down to two choice locations for the hotel. * Along Old Airport Road
Currently, Old Airport Road lies in between Mountbatten and Dakota station, travelling is easy and convenient with the circle line. At the same time, Old Airport Road Food Centre is well-known amongst the locals for its variety of food available from Singapore’s popular dishes such as seafood, char kway teow and fried carrot cake to western pasta. Travellers are able to find food near the hotel as well as venture into the east side areas such as Geylang and Paya Lebar for more food choices. For the ladies who intend to shop on a budget before heading off to their next destination or simply for pure shopping purposes, travellers can visit Bugis Street where is famous for its cheap bargains and food. Chinatown, our second choice, is located near the heart of city where Clarke Quay and City Hall are located respectively. Chinatown is also famous for its variety of food and shopping bargains. Furthermore, Chinatown is also rich in its heritage that allows hotel guests to do some sightseeing if they are keen to explore. 3.6.2. Clean Accommodation
Providing and maintaining clean accommodation and amenities are the basic requirements of a good hotel. Cleaning of rooms will be done once a day (unless the guests specified not to) and the corridors of the hotel will be cleaned daily as well. 3.6.3. “Chill-lax, it feels like home” Atmosphere Besides providing accommodation, the hotel aims to create a homely and chill-lax atmosphere and environment where travellers are able to relax and enjoy themselves. The following are references taken from other backpacking hotels which are able to give us a sensing on how the hotel should look like. Creating a “Chill-lax” and warm atmosphere:
Fig 2. Taken from The RuckSack Inn 2
Fig 1. Taken from The Matchbox Concept Hostel Facebook page
For those who would like to keep in touch with their family members via the internet, the hotel will provide free Wi-Fi services enabling them to do so. Fig 4. Taken from RuckSack Inn 2
Fig 3. Taken from Citybackpackers
Travellers who came as a group can also remain indoors of the hotel as games such as Guitar Hero and board games. Fig.5 & 6. Both pictures taken from A Beary Good Hostel Facebook page
3.6.4. “Be a Singaporean for a day” Tour
In Singapore, travellers usually visit tourists’ hot spots in the town areas such as Orchard Road and City Hall, not the heartlands. Therefore, the proposed hotel will provide a tour, allowing travellers to visit the heartlands where there good food and shopping haunts. The tour will be a “free-and-easy” concept where the tour guide and travellers will take typical public transport such as trains and buses to explore the suburbs of Singapore. The tour will be customized accordingly to the guests’ requests together with a few “must-try” or “must-go” places, with the whole purpose of making feel like a Singaporean after visiting non-conventional areas. This tour is targeted mainly at guests who are visiting Singapore for the first time and those who are interested in venturing beyond Orchard Road and other tourists’ hotspots and into the heartland. Fig. 4 Bak Chor Mee @ Balestier Food Centre
Fig. 3 City Plaza Shopping Centre
3. Competitive Edge against Existing Backpacker Hotels
The proposed hotel main selling point will be a full package of clean accommodation and facilities with the add-on service “Be a Singaporean for a day” tour, which aims to create a different travelling experience as compared to the typical provision of hotel and accommodation services and its location where food is close by. In lieu of our Vision, the hotel’s ultimate aim is to be able to treat and interact with all guests as if as they are friends, especially guests who are visiting Singapore for the first time causing the hotel to be different from others as we place high emphasis on providing good and personalized service despite being a backpacker hotel. Our closest competitor currently will be the Drop Inn who currently names its room accordingly to the neighbourhood names such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Orchard, with the aim for travellers to leave Singapore with some sense of the country’s geography and names of the various roads. However, our hotel would like to emphasize more on travellers getting to know more about the other parts of Singapore other than the conventional tourists’ hot spots.
The tour provided will be a budgeted but yet provide a whole new different experience instead of merely giving them a telling guests that these roads do exist in Singapore and not showing them around to allow guests to gain first-hand experience of a “true-blue” Singaporean. Coupling the personalized tour will be the clean and homely accommodation provided by this hotel. The decor and atmosphere of the hotel will be on par and comparable to the current existing Backpackers hotels as shown above (Fig 1 and 2) to give off a “chill-lax” environment allowing them to laze around in the hotel if want to. Besides that, the hotel’s accommodation and facilities will be on par or even better than the existing hotels. However, the hotel will be emphasizing greatly on the cleanliness of all the rooms and bathrooms of the hotel. Cleanliness if one of the important factors in which travellers look for in a hotel. With the increase usage of the internet, reviews of a hotel greatly influence the decision of a traveller. Therefore, great emphasis on cleanliness is one factors coupling with the tour that gives the proposed hotel a competitive advantage over existing hotels. Apart from the package of being a clean, homely hotel which treats all its guests as if as they are friends by showing them around Singapore, location is also a factor in which differentiates the proposed hotel from the other backpacking hotels. Located along Old Airport Road, Old Airport Road Food Centre is merely a few steps away.
Old Airport Road Food Centre is one of the local food havens well-known by the locals and famous for its large variety of food. Furthermore, the food centre is opened till about 2 a.m. which will be the most convenient place for guests to go for supper to satisfy their stomach cravings. Since Singapore is well-known as a food haven, Old Airport Road is one of the must-try and less conventional areas where good and affordable food can be found. At the same time, with the new circle line in place, transport is merely a few steps away where stations Mountbatten and Dakota are located. The city is merely 5 – 6 stops away where Raffles City and Suntec City are located. 4. Key Operations
Since the hotel’s key selling points are the “coming home” experience where guests feel at home and the location of hotel, the following below are the key operations of the hotel where we, as the management, will be looking into: * Sourcing for the Ideal Location and & Securing the Relevant License to Operate * Design & Furnishing
* Cleanliness Maintenance of Proposed Backpacker Hotel * “Be a Singaporean for a day” tour
5.6. Sourcing for the Ideal Location & Securing the Relevant Licenses to Operate Old Airport Road is located in the heartlands Singapore. Unlike the locations of current existing hotels, it is a residential area where no hotels are being setup. Therefore, in order to run the hotel, the management will have to either purchase 3 – 4 stories of a HDB flat or purchasing the land that currently holds the infrastructure of an old primary school near the area or build the hotel from scratch on the large field located nearby Old Airport Road Food Centre. Purchasing these units will be essential to avoid paying over excessive rent and imposing any form of restrictions to the interior decor of the hotel. It is currently more feasible to build purchase the land where the old primary school is at, reason being, there are people living in these apartment blocks of flats which will be difficult and troublesome to vacate these residents for the sole purpose of the hotel and due to the existing infrastructure of the old school that the management can make use of.
Furthermore, costs will be one huge factor in which the management has to consider as taking over these many apartments in the block would mean compensating the residents. However, in order to secure the plot of land, the management will have to seek the approval of the Urban Redevelopment of Authority (URA) to make adjustments to the exterior of the building and the surroundings to give the hotel a vibrant and fun image. Besides the exterior and securing the location needed, the management will have to acquire the relevant licenses before it can operate. It is recommended that the management acquire these licenses through an external agency as they are familiar with the relevant procedures and licenses required for the operation of a backpacker hotel. In order to ensure that the external agency is reliable, the management will ensure that the external agency is certified by the Singapore government. The management will also be following closely of the progress of the license application and to consult the relevant authorities before allowing the agencies to handle the acquiring of the operation licenses.
It will still be more effective to engage these agencies at the end because as a newcomer into the industry, the management is still a green horn towards the “dos” and “don’ts” within the industry. In the mean time, the management can to start to formulate the ideal interior plan for the hotel. In the event where the acquiring of the licenses does not fall through, the management intends to take on the following contingency plan. Food is one of the highlights for most travellers in Singapore, and the main reason to why the management are proposing to build the hotel within Old Airport Road area due to Old Airport Road Food Centre. The management will go with our 2nd choice of relocating the proposed backpacker hotel to Chinatown.
As mentioned in 2.3.1, Chinatown is surrounded by food havens such as Amoy Street Food Centre and Maxwell Food Centre, guests of the hotel can conveniently head to these food centres for good and affordable food. However, since Chinatown is located near the Central Business District (CBD), such food centres are often close at the end of dinner. Travellers will not be able to find a convenient place for supper if it were to interest them. Fortunately, Chinatown is also surrounded by shop houses where it will be relatively easier to find a space for the proposed hotel and gain approval for the space itself. Without a proper space, there is no way the backpacker hotel will become a reality. After securing a space at either one of the management’s choices, the management can proceed to renovate and tweak its plans accordingly to suit the architecture of the building. 5.7. Design and Furnishing
The interior design of the hotel is one of the factors in which the management emphasizes. The management stresses the importance of allowing guests to be able to relax and “chill” within the hotel. Therefore, the interior design of the hotel will be designed and furnished personally by the management of the hotel to maintain the idea and the selling point of the hotel. The management intends to engage a renovation firm specialising in both architecture and interior design for the purpose of consulting of the feasibility of the intended design of the proposed backpacker hotel. The management intends to choose between these two renovation firms after rounds of extensive research: i. i-bridge Design
ii. Vogue Design Place
i-bridge Design is currently the management’s first choice. Known for designing HDB’s first condo style flats, i-Bridge interior style is fun and yet sophisticated. Being an experienced renovation firm, i-Bridge is able to advise and renovate the hotel accordingly or even better than the ideal design that the management has in mind. Being able approached by HDB to design its flats reflects the company’s responsibility and reliability, which further supports the management’s choice of being the renovation company for the proposed backpacker hotel. In the event where i-Bridge is unable to fulfil the management’s expectations, Vogue Design Place will be the management’s second choice to renovate the hotel. Vogue Design Place has straight track record of designing upmarket residential areas such as The Claymore and The Pier. With their sophisticated designs, and reliable track record, which are one of the reasons why the management chose this renovation firm. However, it remained as the management’s second choice due to its track record of having more contemporary, posh and upmarket while the image the proposed backpacker’s hotel intends to be vibrant, cheery but yet keeping the “chill-lax” feel within the hotel. For the furniture aspect, the management has decided to buy the bulk of the furniture from IKEA.
IKEA provides a wide range of furniture in which designs are creative, sophisticated and affordable. Therefore, allowing the proposed backpacker hotel to enjoy the best of both worlds of having nice furniture at an affordable range. With interior design being ready, the management can now officially enforce policies and process flow of the hotel to ensure that cleanliness and good service is maintained during the normal operations of the hotel. 5.8. Cleanliness Maintenance of Proposed Backpacker Hotel The management intends to place high emphasis on cleanliness maintenance within the proposed backpacker hotel. Overall cleanliness of the hotel such as basic cleaning of the corridors of the hotel and cleaning of rooms (if specified by the client) will be done once a day. Cleaning will be done in the day, assuming that clients will not be around in their rooms, for the purpose of allowing guests to retire and rest in the hotel with a clean and comfortable environment.
The management will have to forecast the amount of tools and manpower the hotel required to maintain the high standard of cleanliness throughout the day till the return of the guests. Besides that, the management will have to come up with a systematic but yet flexible schedule where employees who are in-charge of cleaning can follow without interfering with the activities of the guests and ensuring cleanliness at the same time. This factor is a pre-requisite in which travellers expect a good backpacker hotel should have. It will not be a large differentiating point for the proposed hotel. However, the differentiating point in which distinguishes the proposed hotel with existing hotels is that besides offering clean and comfortable accommodation, the proposed hotel aims to treat and interact with every guest as if as they are their friends who have come to visit them from overseas. Therefore, bringing us to our last factor, the “Be a Singaporean for a Day Tour”. 5.9. “Be a Singaporean for a Day” Tour
Before implementing this tour in place, the management and all employees of the hotel will have to do extensive research and preparation work to find places which are unique and un-conventional places in Singapore avoiding tourists’ hotspots. Employees will rotate to act as guides for this tour. Guides will have to recommend and bring guests to 3 different places depending on their preferences and agenda; however 1 of the places will have to be a sightseeing area or leisure area. For instance, Guest A is a food fanatic and wants to try different types of food in Singapore. In this case, the guide will have to recommend 2 different food areas (e.g. Old Airport Road Food Centre and Maxwell Food Centre) and 1 sightseeing area (e.g. the Peranakan Museum) or a place of leisure (e.g. shopping for cheap bargains, City Plaza) to Guest A. In order for program to be successful, the management will have to cultivate working environment in such a way where employees are free to explore Singapore on a regular basis to discover new and interesting places.
Furthermore, there should be a weekly meeting where employees are to share with all the employees and management the places explored and found. By doing so, it will allow employees to share knowledge which will benefit the program and to cultivate a good working relationship amongst employees. Guests who wish to participate in this tour will have to come up with approximately $30 – $100 each (depending on the requests of the guests and the places where the tour guide intends to bring them accordingly) to pay for transport, food and even attractions if requested from the guests.
The only problem with this tour is the unpredictable reactions of the guests with regard to the places recommended by the guides. Guests may not be happy with the outcome of the recommendations as they may have higher expectations simply because there is a guide bringing them around. However, the management feels that this is not a big problem because guides will have to inform and suggest the recommended places to the guests. The guide will only proceed for the tour after the guest’s approval. Therefore, the guest will not have any reason to fault the guide for suggesting and recommending the places to visit. 5. Conclusion
Overall, the management hopes to build a backpacker hotel that provides a clean and comfortable environment for guests to stay and relax. At the same time, it also aims to treat all hotel guests as friends to show them around Singapore, especially if it is their first time visiting the country.
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