PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc (OR) has dusted off its plan to build budget hotels inside its petrol stations, adding community malls for tourists as the company focuses on non-oil businesses, says president and chief executive Disathat Panyarachun.
OR is seeking a business consultant for the hotel project, which should take three months, he said.
The company will take another two months to select a hotel chain operator, said Mr Disathat.
The new hotels will have between 50 and 100 rooms to accommodate travellers, with a variety of goods and services offered near the hotel, including food and beverage shops, convenience stores and laundry services, according to OR.
The company wants to add wellness, healthcare and beauty businesses to its petrol stations, he said.
Mr Disathat said OR is not concerned with competing against other budget hotels because its petrol stations are on or near highways and offer community malls.
The hotels will serve tourists with a limited budget that want safe and clean rooms to stay for a few nights, he said.
The hotels can also serve 1,000 OR sales representatives who need a place to stay during upcountry trips.
Mr Disathat did not disclose a budget for the hotel project as the company is studying its business feasibility.
A budget should become clearer in June of next year, he said.
OR initiated the idea to develop budget hotels inside petrol stations between 2016 and 2017, then started feasibility discussions with four hotel chain operators.
In 2018, former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij publicised his concern about Global Power Synergy Plc (GPSC), a power business arm of PTT Plc, after GPSC announced a plan to take over Glow Energy Plc.
Mr Korn said PTT, which is mostly owned by the state, is barred by the constitution from business activities with the aim to compete with private business operators.
His doubt prompted the OR board to decide to delay the hotel project and some other plans until this issue was settled.
The project faced further delay when the pandemic hit Thailand in early 2020 as the tourism industry slumped.
As of the end of September, OR and its partners ran 2,594 petrol stations nationwide. The number of coffee shops under the Amazon brand and convenience stores totalled 4,432 and 2,277, respectively.
The plan to develop budget hotels will be supported by OR's 2024 investment budget, set at 23 billion baht, according to the firm.
Half of the budget is allocated for electric mobility business and renewable energy development, while 27% is to support lifestyle businesses. The remainder is for innovative and digital businesses.
OR also wants to launch a total image revamp of some petrol stations next year, serving as only community malls with no fuel service, said Mr Disathat.
The company plans to open a prototype of such a station on Tuesday on Vibhavadi Rangsit Soi 62 in Bangkok.
Covering seven rai, it is OR's largest petrol station compound and will still serve as a refilling facility, but with a greater focus on non-oil businesses, featuring 25 brands.
The renovation of this station is budgeted at more than a billion baht.
OR is focusing more on retail businesses because of oil retail's low profit margin of only 2%, he said.
The company is in talks with prospective partners to venture into personal care, including cosmetics, skin and hair care products, as well as food supplements.
This new business is expected to require investment of more than a billion baht.