ZEN Rooms MD eyes at least 25 hotels in East Malaysia, shares marketing plans

Budget hotel network ZEN Rooms plans to add at least 25 hotels in East Malaysia by the first quarter of 2019, expanding first into Sarawak's Miri and Kuching by the end of 2018. Kota Kinabalu is also one of the top three destinations ZEN Rooms aims to expand into, managing director Sameer Kaushik (pictured) told A+M, who declined to comment on the monetary investment that it has set aside for its East Malaysia expansion.

He added that East Malaysia is "poised to become" one of Malaysia's top tourist destinations due to its diversity, rich culture and long history. Additionally, Miri and Kuching have their own attractions such as the annual Rainforest World Music Festival and national parks.

Meanwhile, the budget hotel network also aims to expand into five more cities within Malaysia, and add 2,000 more rooms across its network by the end of this year. Founded to help hotel franchisees be more efficient, competitive, safe and reliable, ZEN Rooms currently operates in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

In July this year, ZEN Rooms received US$15 million in funding from global leisure platform company Yanolja. Although Kaushik declined to go into the specifics, he said "a big part" of the investment will be channeled to marketing, with additional spending on online marketing and advertising such as Google search engine marketing and optimisation, as well as social media platforms. It will also work on customer data coalition for online and offline, integrating it with customer segment specific campaigns.

Meanwhile, it is also rolling out real time notifications to guests about ongoing promotions and flash sales. "We have a very strong loyalty and reward program, which will see more additions in coming months. On the offline side, we are deploying many campaigns to do potential guests outreach as well," he added.

ZEN Rooms also aims to upgrade its marketing and technological aspects to boost efficiency. Currently, the budget hotel network is using dynamic and superior pricing algorithms it developed, which generates about 20% to 25% more revenue for the hotel owners. Kaushik said its next plan for the ZEN Rooms mobile app is to include features such as concierge and personalised content based on the consumers' previously stay using ZEN Rooms. He added:

Social media, chat bots and review platforms are democratising the travel industry by bringing more transparency and giving consumer the power.

"By 2020, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will help to further personalise the guest experience and improve hotel operations efficiencies. Room control integrations, motion sensors, smart TV and voice control systems are just a start to many more things to come," he said.