Zen Rooms targets 1300 hotel rooms in PH by yr-end

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LOW-BUDGET hotel brand Zen Rooms is looking to double its hotel room inventory in the Philippines by the end of the year to address growing demand from millennial travelers, a company official said.

Zen Rooms currently has about 600 rooms in 100 locations around the Philippines just six months since it started operations in the country.

“By the end of the year, we’re going to 1300 [rooms]. So it’s slightly more than double,” Zen Rooms global managing director Nathan Boublil told reporters in a recent interview.

Boublil said Zen Rooms is among the top five low-budget hotel operators in the country. “In only six months of operations, we’ve already entered the top five, and we’re going into the top 3 in 2017. At this pace, we’re becoming the number one player in the Philippines in 2018,” he said.


He said their business model of working with existing hotels allowed them to rapidly expand in a short period.

“So we don’t build new hotels. We take the existing hotels. We see their problems, we fix their problems and then we make the prices better. And so that is inherently more scalable,” Boublil explained.

He said their company works through a management agreement with an existing hotel whereby Zen Rooms will initially manage one floor of the property, which will house the Zen Room brand.

“Then over time, we can scale within a property as we see that it works well, like here in Manila. So we’ll take one floor then another floor and another floor,” Boublil said.

The company plans to expand not just in tourist destinations but also in growth cities across the country, said Zen Rooms country manager-Philippines Benjamin Nicolas, who said they are interested in expanding to Bohol and other islands in the Visayas, Mindanao, as well as in North Luzon.

To date, the company is present in six cities in Manila, Boracay, Pampanga, Cebu, Davao and Palawan.

Boublil said that when the company entered the Philippine hotel market in mid-2016, “we saw a lot of potential to make it better. We specialize in improving the efficiency of hotels. We make hotels operate better. So you get the value for money that is the best in the market.”

The price range for a double room with bathroom, wifi, and air-conditioning in Manila by Zen Rooms start at P860.

According to Boublil, they see a need for cheaper accommodations for the millennial market who travel frequently driven by cheaper airfares.

“If people can travel for cheaper, with a good option, then it means they’re going to travel more,” Boublil said.

Zen Rooms is a Southeast Asian budget hotel company funded by the Rocket Internet group. It was founded in Indonesia in 2015 and also operates in Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Catherine Talavera

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