TRANSIT TALES

Travellers are spending more time at airports — and comfort-on-demand by Plaza Premium Group is making transit stops, no matter how long, a breeze.


Over the last 10 years, more travellers have taken to the skies — there was a year over year growth of over 700 new routes and a record of more than 3.7 billion air passengers in 2016 according to IATA research. This has given rise to more demands from the travellers in transit.

Plaza Premium Group (PPG) has tapped on this trend to create comfort-on-demand; solutions for travellers to arrive at their destination well-rested and recharged. "Whether they are travelling for business or leisure, no one likes arriving jet-lagged, exhausted and unplugged," says Andrew Lee, Regional General Manager (Macau and Australia) and Champion of Aerotel, the airport transit hotel pillar of PPG. "Good rest is rare."

On the back of emerging new travel routes and longer layover times, as well as longer time spent at immigration and custom checks, Andrew shared that there is a demand for quality rest while travelling. "For example, travellers to and from Australia via the 'Kangaroo' route with multiple flight connections and layovers that elongate the travel time are better off creating a relaxing experience from the beginning of the journey, rather than when you arrived at the destination."

Rest is a true luxury and rare while on the go. Business travellers are expected to disembark and head straight into meetings or productive work. "Even travelling on business class doesn't offer high quality rest," Andrew pointed out. "There is limited space and no sound-proofing with a lot of white noise." Offering a holistic approach to refresh and recharge the mind and body together is one of Aerotel's defining points.

PPG's Aerotel is a new transit hotel concept that aims to provide travellers with a 'better way' to arrive at their destination. "When many travellers are transiting at different airports nowadays, they are choosing to fly at odd times or through multi-stops because it might be more affordable," he continues, "and there are now more opportunities in the journey than ever when travellers want to recharge." By "recharge", PPG also takes it to mean the mental states of mind of most travellers. Transiting for a few hours in an airport can whittle down the nerves and Aerotel provides comfortable haven for those who need a few hours of privacy and rest.

Aerotel is specially designed by travellers for travellers, it ensures that our guests and their mobile devices get fully recharged on-the-go and be ready anytime.

This is not a simple — or easily achieved — proposition. Aerotel takes care of every detail to ensure that they deliver on this promise, including making sure that common traveller's concerns like having the right power plug or being hungry at odd hours are well addressed. The power plug in every Aerotel room is universal, with direct USB ports, so as Andrew explains, "You don't even have to pull out your device charger from your baggage."

BEGINNING WITH INNOVATION

Officially established in 2016, Aerotel now has three locations in the world's airports — Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Rio de Janeiro. London will soon to be coming online at the end of the year. When it comes to transit hotels, there is no global brand built for airport and air travellers till this very moment. And it is the Group's ambition to build the first chain transit hotel around the world specialised in creating sleeping and resting experiences for weary travellers.
PPG has used its track record as a global leader in operating and managing independent airport lounges and transit hotels to create a truly innovative and fresh experience.

This one-of-a-kind hotel concept is unlike traditional hotels and is designed to specially cater to travellers who need to spend a considerable amount of time at the airport. Beyond the comforts of a good bed and cozy private room, Aerotel offers a myriad of other relaxation facilities from a library lounge to powerful hot showers with full amenities.
Outdoor swimming pool and fitness centres are also available at selected locations.  

A choice of pillows — hard and soft — an extra wide bed and complimentary Wi-Fi in all Aerotel locations ensure that you are guaranteed the level of outstanding service.

As travellers tend to stay in the airport for varying times, Aerotel allows booking flexibility and has different packages which suit their needs — travellers can book rooms in hour blocks and up, and then in increments of a one-hour block — making it as suitable for those who has a long layover as it would be for them with an early flight. The minimum booking hours are also localised to the airport — for Singapore, it's a minimum of six hours while in Rio de Janeiro it's three. "This reflects the travel patterns and the average layover times the airport actually has," says Andrew. "In developing our Aerotel product, not only we have looked at best practices from leading hotels and sleeping solutions worldwide, but also the requests of travellers; we have carefully studied each location strategically to ensure that our product is a cut above the rest."

Always built within major international airport hubs, Aerotel is 'strategically located'. "They are widespread enough to have global reach and influence, yet small enough to be collaborative and responsive in the approach we take toward managing our hotel assets." he says.

Investing for more than USD$5 million per property on construction, infrastructure and technology, Aerotel has a long list of future openings including prime sites in Kuala Lumpur and Muscat. "Our experience in managing and operating airport lounges on a global scale has shown us that there is a market airport transit accommodation that people are willing to pay for."

FUTURE SIGHTS

Aerotel is currently PPG's second largest business unit, after lounges, and keeps its room inventory small — with about 20 to 80 rooms only. But the turnover is maximised and each room is used two to three times a day. "It is not unusal our rooms can go through four turns a day," Andrew remarks.

And there is room for the brand to grow too. "We set our sights on being synonymous with airport transit hotels. We want to grow into the 'nap market' as well", says Andrew. "Our key focus will be to strategically grow our portfolio of Aerotel products and locations globally. We are also looking at growing our subsidiary Aerotel brands: Sleep Solutions by Aerotel, Napping Lounges, Resting and Shower suites."

With other key openings in 2017/18 including Muscat of Oman, Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia and Hyperabad of India, Andrew also suggests there are three to six potential properties upcoming on the cards.

"Every time we open a new Aerotel location", he says, "we consider how we can develop key relationships with airport authorities to operate an Aerotel hotel whether that is a management agreement, joint venture or self-operated opportunity. We then develop a strategic plan that leverages the designated geographic area, with specific time goals and productive contacts. All of which leads to a property that shows off our brand value proposition." This comes as no surprise that Aerotel has been growing rapidly across airports internationally.