Les Morgan Les Morgan

Sudima sets sights on growth

New Zealand accommodation company Sudima Hotels is continuing with its growth plans, though chief operating officer Les Morgan says the sector should be under no illusion about the short to medium term challenges ahead.

The 194-room Sudima Auckland Hotel opened recently and held an open day for trade and corporate clients recently. Next on the horizon are hotels in Kaikoura and Queenstown – both set for pre-Christmas openings.

‘It’s not an ideal environment in which to open hotels, but the investors are in this for the long-term - as are we,’ says Morgan.

He notes that another relatively new hotel, Sudima Christchurch is performing strongly with the domestic corporate market and conferences. ‘So there are positive signs out there, but overall I am really cautious about any rapid recovery, even with the possibility of a trans-Tasman bubble.’

He says New Zealand is likely to see some corporate and small event-related business, along with VFR, from across the Tasman. However, the leisure market will probably represent
a ‘trickle’ in the first instance.

‘There will be a lot of caution around leisure travel. People will be afraid of being stranded through a lockdown or similar event. It could take a couple of years for confidence to fully return.

‘Travel will be extremely last minute and we need to adapt as an industry to that.

‘At the same time the airlines operating the Tasman are primarily premium carriers so the fares will be expensive and that will be another barrier.’
  He says New Zealand needs to appreciate that most other countries rely on tourism to some degree and have more marketing budget that we do. ‘They will be actively marketing and we’ll need to compete with that when it is safe to travel again.’