Why are so many people sleeping on the floor of the airport when there are perfectly good hotels right nearby?
This is what the CEO and founder of Plaza Premium Group Song Hoi See asked sleepy international travellers when in an airport one day.
“Because I’m not going to pay for a 24 hour hotel when we only need a few hours sleep,” travellers replied to the instantly inspired executive.
Hoi See’s inquisitiveness has done him well. The immediate light bulb that went off above his head led him to launch the Plaza Premium Group which owns the international airport hotel chain Aerotel.
Aerotel allows travellers to rent a room for a few hours so they can rest, relax and refresh before they jet off on their next flight.
This pay-as-you-go option caters to arriving or departing passengers. It provides access to all passengers, regardless of their airline or travel class, without membership requirements. The lounge is equipped with private showers, accessible washrooms, flight information displays, and complimentary Wi-Fi, ensuring a seamless and pleasant travel experience.
The rooms range from 60 to 120 square feet and are typically booked for travellers staying in a three to six hour window, however there is of course room to add an hour or so if need be.
And with 11 of these hotels appearing in appearing in nine countries, the short-term stays are catching on.
Hoi See’s only Australian branch of his innovative hotel chain recently celebrated its first birthday in Sydney. The Aerotel Sydney, nestled next to the arrivals port at Sydney International Airport, has welcomed nearly 8000 guests from 112 countries in the past year since opening in August 2022.
Hoi See told Travel Weekly that while the Aerotel at Sydney Airport is perfect for people with stopovers, it doubles for those who live an hour or two away and want somewhere to stay overnight for their early morning flight. Sydney Airport’s curfew, which prevents takeoff or landing between 12-6am, means travellers can book in the night before to be ready for their early morning flight.
But Aerotel is not there to challenge traditional airport hotels. By Hoi See’s own admission, his chain could not compete with traditional hotels, but he doesn’t want to.
“Initially people think that we are competing with conventional hotels… We cannot compete with them,” Hoi See said.
“They have all the facilities, but we provide a place to rest that’s short-term. No conventional hotel will sell you a six-hour block.”
But while Aerotel’s services may not meet the high levels of a traditional overnight hotel, they cater towards the higher standards that travellers have been looking for since the pandemic ended.
Hoi See said that travellers used to treat an airport like a bus stop, but now they’re looking for more.
“More youngsters travelling, they are very discerning – they know what they want: Quality. Not only quality, they want convenient comfort,” he said. And to achieve this, you must invest in technology, the Aerotel CEO told Travel Weekly.
Aerotel took the pandemic to invest over US$10m (AU$15.49m) to develop technology that would facilitate the admissions process, it also examined its loyalty programme and is developing Travel Ecosystem (TECO) for an Uber-like experience with any app or webpage.
Hoi See’s hotel chain mainly gets its bookings from its own booking engine, while about 20 per cent come from OTAs and the remainder are from agents.