By late 2021, Banyan Tree Group began to see broad-based improvement across Group-owned and Group-managed hotels alike, as more countries began reopening to international tourists. With many countries and travellers coming to recognise the endemic nature of COVID-19, there has been a discernible change in attitudes towards international travel and clear signs of a rebound in our industry.
We have proven resilient throughout the pandemic. Effective cost containment and cash management have strengthened us financially, and diversification in geography and revenue streams has mitigated the impact of the pandemic on our business. While our Hotel Investments and Fee-based segments have faced a challenging two years, our Branded Residences and Extended Stay (Property Sales) segment has continued to achieve profitability.
Although 2022 will still be marked by many uncertainties and possible setbacks, we are expecting a gradual and long-term recovery. Rather than a quick return to pre-COVID levels of profitability, we are seeking good growth that is sustainable and meaningful.
Our goal now is to build on this foundation and shape a codified approach that marries personal wellbeing with greater sustainability in each stay. This is a first in our industry.
Key Trends in Travel
Because the pandemic has caused a paradigm shift in how and where people work and meet, it remains to be seen if business travel will resume to pre-pandemic volumes. MICE, for example, is unlikely to be an early engine for recovery. On the other hand, we believe the demand for leisure tourism will not only endure but increase. In view of this, Banyan Tree Group is playing the long game, anticipating and capitalising on trends in leisure travel.
In the Group’s stronghold of Asia, the vast majority of hotels remain unbranded. This represents huge untapped potential for a multi-brand business like ours. We foresee conversion opportunities in resort destinations, micro-hotels in heavily urbanised cities, and emerging second-tier tourism destinations. As we expand our multi-brand ecosystem, the ability to present hotel owners with a wider portfolio of brands gives us a valuable advantage in securing management agreements.
This move to diversify our offerings is consistent with our strategy of positioning Banyan Tree, Angsana, Cassia and Dhawa to target different market segments and guest need-states. Our five newest brands unveiled in December 2021 have already attracted numerous signings.
A Shift to Purposeful Travel
The past two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions reminded people of the importance of human connection. It was a period of soul-searching, with many revising their priorities and resolving to lead a more meaningful existence. At the same time, health has been on everyone’s mind. Aside from the physical aspect, pandemic stress has increased people’s consciousness of mental and emotional health. The market is readier than ever for initiatives that demystify wellbeing and democratise it by making it accessible for everyone, every day.
With these shifts, people are now looking for travel that is purposeful, experiential and responsible. Our team has identified Wellbeing and Sustainability as imperatives in post-COVID travel. With our beginnings as a spa resort on the site of a disused tin mine, wellbeing and sustainable development is an integral part of Banyan Tree Group’s DNA. Our goal now is to build on this foundation and shape a codified approach that marries personal wellbeing with greater sustainability in each stay. This is a first in our industry.
Sustainability has always informed our business practices, long before it became a buzzword in the corporate world.
Wellbeing from the Inside Out
For years, the concept of wellbeing in hospitality was limited to spa treatments. A more holistic, research-based approach is long overdue. Amidst COVID-19, we identified eight pillars to guide our wellbeing programmes, and taught our associates the same self-care techniques available to our guests. Together with the linchpin “I Am With You” service culture of empathy and mindfulness, this has not only improved the wellbeing of our associates but also created team cohesion, a passion and conviction in the value of what we offer guests, and a shared connection between our guests and associates.
Outwardly, we began in 2021 to launch Wellbeing Sanctuaries that combine club floors or resort wings, dedicated dining options, spas and multifunctional practice spaces into one exclusive journey. Meanwhile, our new brand extensions – Banyan Tree Escape and Banyan Tree Veya – serve to deepen our industry positioning and core focus on wellbeing and sustainability.
Our Journey to Decarbonisation and Material Analysis Renewal
Sustainability has always informed our business practices, long before it became a buzzword in the corporate world. In recent years we have employed a more strategic and science-based approach to support climate action and adopt earth-friendly practices. This has yielded measurable results. Despite opening new resorts, Group energy use and emissions have decreased by 24% since 2017, largely due to improvements in resource-use efficiency but also in part due to recent temporary closures. With business growth resuming and more resorts in the pipeline, we are conscious of the need to continue cutting emissions. We have also lowered both water use and waste production by 16%, while reducing single-use plastic by 54%, preventing 28.6 million pieces of plastic from going to landfill. Over the same period, we engaged more than 235,000 guests in our programmes to promote responsible travel.
Ownership of sustainability begins at the very top of our organisation. The Board of Directors considers sustainability issues as integral to the Group’s strategy and monitors the progress towards sustainability targets. Senior management ensures that the sustainability mission cascades to all associates and permeates the entire Group both culturally and operationally.
Instigated by the ongoing pandemic, we conducted a new material analysis in 2021, to enable us to emerge post-pandemic sustainably, addressing contemporary stakeholder needs. The Board approved six material topics, for which we will develop and implement new strategies in 2022. Climate change remains material and a key global challenge highlighted by COP26, and we will develop a comprehensive decarbonisation strategy that incorporates Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Singapore Exchange (SGX) reporting recommendations. This will ensure we embed action in our business processes and development, and continue to exceed the precautionary principle for people and the planet.
A Better Tomorrow
As always, I am thankful for the countless contributions of our guests, shareholders, partners and associates. My gratitude also goes to members of the Board for providing their collective wisdom and fresh perspectives as we worked through another challenging year. I would like to welcome our new Directors, Lien Choong Luen and Parnsiree Amatayakul, both of whom bring valuable experience in technology and operations.
We maintain our conviction in the enduring demand for travel, and that we can build a better tomorrow as we embark on a new chapter of good growth. With the launch of our global multi-brand ecosystem unified in our core purpose of sustainability and wellbeing, we will continue to grow as a regenerative business for the greater good post-COVID.
— Banyan Tree Holdings