Following the example of budget airlines, the Andaz Singapore is selling ‘unbundled’ hotel stays with previously free amenities such as pool access now charged as bespoke add-ons. Olivia Palamountain reports
The Andaz Singapore is applying the “unbundling” trend to its room categories, a concept first seen in the airline industry, whereby tickets no longer included food, drinks, seat selection and luggage as part of the price.
This five-star property near Singapore’s Marina Bay offers all the trappings of a luxury hotel, including a 25th-story rooftop pool with sweeping views and a state-of-the-art fitness centre. However, both are now off-limits to people booking “unbundled” packages.
It’s an interesting model for the ailing luxury hotel sector, which could use room-only rates to attract less wealthy guests. (In the case of the Andaz, this includes a free minibar with drinks and snacks but excluding spirits.)
The trend was revealed by Milelion in December 2020 when popular Hong Kong-based online travel and activities agency Klook was seen selling a basic “room-only” rate for £129, exclusive of breakfast, swimming pool access or time in the gym.
Globetrender contacted Andaz for a comment and was told by a spokesperson: “The Andaz Essential package was created specifically by Andaz Singapore, with our partner Klook, in response to changing guest priorities. There has been strong interest and a growing demand for staycations from our local guests in Singapore, but we recognise the need to maintain social restrictions in other areas of the hotel’s facilities.
“The Andaz Essential package allows us to offer room-only rates and cater to this demand, while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all our guests. This package is only available at Andaz Singapore.”
Similarly, the Bvlgari in Knightsbridge restricts access to its 25-metre colonnaded swimming pool on certain bookings, including its work from hotel package.
Meanwhile, back in November 2020, Qatar Airways announced a new “basic” business class fare without lounge access. According to The Points Guy, “‘Classic’ business class fares on Qatar Airways no longer include advance seat selection or complimentary lounge access.
“The fares still include the usual checked baggage allowance, free stopovers, earn miles and can be changed or cancelled. However, depending on the programme you credit to, you may earn fewer miles than other business class fares and pay a higher cancellation fee.”
Research from Amadeus and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) noted the move towards unbundled rooms back in 2019 in its Drivers of Change in Hospitality report, suggesting that The Beginning of the End for Room Types would become a key trend going forward.
Hotel accommodation, which has traditionally been bought in a standard and uniform way, will need to adapt as 61 per cent of global travellers state a preference for hotels to be priced in a way that allows them to add-on bespoke options, the report states.
This will see the emergence of attribute-based booking, where guests pick and choose the individual components of their room, marking the end of traditional room types. New selling models will become more mainstream too, with guests able to book a room for a length that suits their needs rather than a traditional overnight stay.
Consumers are used to buying exactly what they want and need when it comes to music, entertainment, fashion and travel – why not hotel rooms?
According to Business Travel News, the use of artificial intelligence to analyse traveller data to provide more personalised booking choices is expected to accelerate the unbundled trend.
This new tech could allow for differentiated pricing on whether the room is near the ice machine, for example, what kind of linens are used, whether bottled water is included, pillow selection, fitness center access, pool access, breakfast, parking, carbon offsetting, in-room eco-products and room cleaning.
Better selections for guests, increased time and cost savings and higher programme compliance are just some of the puported benefits of unbundling.