Good first-quarter results for 2006 confirm that the purchase of Minotel International by Minotel Suisse, at the beginning of 2005 has had a positive effect by creating a more compact structure with improved performance.
Pierre Goy, the president of Minotel, says that the move has overcome problems raised by the integration of foreign hotel groups. "Healthy synergies have developed," he says, "particularly on the promotional and reservations levels and have replaced previous uncontrollable and even insolvable problems." Mr. Goy says that the structural changes resulted in a cutback in staff at Minotel headquarters in Lausanne to 25 from 35. New hotels in Beijing and elsewhere
At the end of March, Minotel had 322 hotels around the world, 72 of them in Switzerland. These figures will increase this year with new hotels being added both in Switzerland and abroad. These are independent establishments, unaffiliated with chains, and are the first fruits since the restructuring of the group internationally. Among them is a four-star, 200-room hotel in Beijing with the only outdoor pool in the city.
Other establishments in China to carry the Minotel insignia will be in Shanghai, Canton, Macao and Hong Kong. Contacts have already been made with independent hotels in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Bahrain, Jeddah and Istanbul. Recovery of the tourist industry
The chain thrives on its ability to sell in the tourist market. In 2005, Minotel recorded an increase in reservations which continued strongly in the first quarter of 2006 with an increase of 43.3%, especially on its Internet site. This increase has come in spite of the reduction in the number of hotels and a related drop in the number of rooms to 12,000, including 3,000 in Switzerland.
The positive showing of Minotel is reflected on the hotel level since the average number of reservations per hotel in comparison to 2004 has tripled in Switzerland and almost quadrupled abroad. * A shift in sales over the past 10 years
In 1995, almost 100% of Minotel sales were made through tour operators. Today, these represent only about half with 25% coming from the public and another 25% from electronic distributors. However the chain continues to work in the tour operator sector, notably overseas.
This can be seen in the hiring of a representative in China who is responsible both for sales in the travel sector and the search for hotels to flesh out the Minotel network. Another sales representative works part-time in the Japanese market.
The growth in the number of electronic distributors is an important factor which has not escaped the attention of Minotel management: Marielle Goy, the managing director at Minotel says, "We are in a position to rationalise operations and to ensure the efficacy of cooperation with these valued intermediaries by virtue of our being the sole representative for all our hotels." Marielle Goy adds, "So the quality of the maintenance of the offer in this respect is a considerable argument for us."
The chain also enjoys a high standing in the networks of several major distributors such as HRS Hotel Reservation Service (180,000 hotels), Bookings (10,000 hotels) owned by Priceline, and TransHotel (30,500 hotels). Possible lower membership fees
The smooth and controlled development of the chain and the strong increase in reservations has encouraged management to look into the possibility of reducing membership fees by 10%. The idea will be proposed at the annual Minotel General Assembly 9 May in Interlaken. * Absolute figures not given for reasons of competition www.minotel.com