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WATG Strategy: 5 trends impacting hospitality in Asia Pacific now

Despite ongoing challenges, hospitality in Asia Pacific remains a hotbed of exciting development activity. Long established markets are reinventing themselves in response to changing visitor profiles and evolving expectations, while simultaneously a new set of destinations are emerging for tourists to explore once restrictions abate.

With all eyes on Tokyo, we chat with Guy Cooke, WATG's Singapore-based Director of Strategy, about the trends impacting hospitality development in Asia Pacific right now.


1. A Japanese take on luxury

Japan’s luxury, upper upscale and upscale hotel sectors remain under-supplied when compared to other mature international destinations, representing clear opportunities at the top of the market. Visitors are expecting a unique cultural experience, such as omotenashi – the spirit of Japan’s hospitality and service ethos – rather than the standardized service that has historically been more typical in the sector internationally. In these settings, on-site onsen and kaiseki are increasingly prioritized over pools and room service, and a new breed of luxury ryokans are emerging, merging Japanese tradition with exceptional service and facilities.

2. IRs bet big on Asia

Integrated resorts – also known as IRs – are large-scale hospitality developments anchored by gaming, but with a range of other leisure and entertainment facilities beside. The IR market is proliferating across the region, with a set of new players coming to the table. In the context of such an increasingly competitive landscape, the next generation of integrated resorts will need consider differentiation through innovative and market-driven leisure and entertainment activities as well as the ongoing evolution of the gaming experience. Creating the next unique destination experience requires key insights into consumer trends and preferences of both gaming and non-gaming segments – more from WATG Strategy on that soon.

3. The ‘Hallyu’ effect

Hallyu is a collective term describing the growth of Korean culture and pop-culture, translating to ‘Korean wave’ in Chinese. In hospitality projects, we are seeing a marked increase in properties leveraging this phenomenon for the theming of outlets, attractions and events. In a recent study, 63%* of independent travelers visited Korea to experience its popular culture, and one in every 13* tourists indicated that BTS, a K-pop boy band, was the main reason for their visit. For the next generation of hotels, entertainment parks and even F&B outlets, we expect it to reach an unprecedented level.

Fun fact: following the success of K-pop, the Korean government has even launched a ‘Hallyu’ department to further support the expansion of the Korean Wave.

*Hyundai Research Institute (HRI)
**Korea Association of Travel Agents (KATA)

4. A mountain for all seasons

Across Asia Pacific, mountain resorts are increasingly looking to diversify their offering with a focus on summer activities – balancing appeal and revenue generation throughout the year. Operating on a 365-day model is more important now than ever, as climate change threatens many industries – including ski – with unpredictable weather and shorter seasons. Creative programming and activities that cater to a broad visitor mix are key to the development of a successful year-round destination.

5. Winter wonder ‘brand’

Ski and mountain resorts in the region are moving away from the traditional self-catering alpine ski condo/chalet concept, with the provision of more luxury accommodation options. International hospitality brands are increasingly making their presence in this space, with a swathe of high-end hotels and branded residences that appeal to affluent and discerning travelers and investors. Destinations such as Niseko are seeing a lot of investment and with it, exciting new product from brands such as Ritz-Carlton Reserve, W Hotels, EDITION, Aman, Capella, Park Hyatt and Six Senses.

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