The Baiyoke Group of Hotels is confident that its charter airline alliance with H.I.S. Co, the biggest Japanese travel agent, will benefit Baiyoke's hotel business this year.
Piyalert: Chartered flights to boost brand
The charter airline in which Panlert Baiyoke, the group's founder, jointly invests with H.I.S. will inaugurate its first flight this July.
The carrier will operate a couple of leased 767s, running one charter flight a day from Bangkok to Japan.
Mr Panlert holds 12% in Asia Pacific Airlines, while H.I.S. owns 49% and the remaining 39% is held by Thai subsidiary H.I.S. Tours. The airline's paid-up capital is 540 million baht.
Piyalert Baiyoke, vice-president of Baiyoke Group, said investing in the charter airline with H.I.S. will support the hotel business in the long term.
"Our hospitality business will be fully integrated and our charter flights will bring more tourists to Thailand. Many of them will stay with us for sure," he said.
Moreover, the connection with H.I.S. will become stronger and the Japanese travel firm will help Baiyoke promote its hotels to the Japanese people. H.I.S. booked 25,000 room nights under the Baiyoke banner last year.
For the hotel business, Baiyoke Group is planning a new three-star hotel project on Yommarat Road in Bangkok. Construction will begin this year, but the investment budget is not settled yet.
The group is looking for a Japanese hotel management chain to run the new hotel. The hotel brand will be new in Thailand, marking the first time that Baiyoke has embraced an outside hotel chain.
"We want to try and learn from an international hotel chain," said Mr Piyalert.
In March, Baiyoke Group will open a boutique hotel, Hua Chang Heritage Hotel Bangkok.
Average occupancy rates this year are expected to be satisfactory: 85% at Baiyoke Sky Hotel and 75-80% at Baiyoke Boutique Hotel and Baiyoke Ciao Hotel Chiang Mai.
The group plans to raise its average room rate by 15% in 2013 after years of delay caused by local political problems.
Operating costs have risen by 5% this year, mainly due to higher wages. Baiyoke employs up to 2,000 workers, hundreds of whom receive the minimum wage of 300 baht a day.
For the food business, Baiyoke Group will join with a Japanese business partner to open Thai restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka this year.
The existing Japanese BBQ franchise Gyu-Kaku has two locations in Bangkok, with a third to open this year, said Mr Piyalert.
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- Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong