Sogo wants to open hotels in key cities in PHL–exec

A SOGO in every city. That’s the ambitious aim of the hotel firm, as it continued to expand beyond Metro Manila, with the latest branch opening in Davao.

Hotel Sogo’s marketing manager Sue Geminiano told the BusinessMirror, “The business direction is to expand not only towards the south, but actually to almost all key cities in the country.”

At Wednesday’s BM Coffee Club, which tackled the topic of Revenge Travel, she also said, “Hotel Sogo has really been fearless even during the pandemic. We were able to expand in 2021 even if it’s pandemic, we added four branches, and we are expanding more, even in 2022. We are putting up a Hotel Sogo in different provinces.”

Aside from the newest branch in Davao, the three other branches opened last year were along Timog Ave., Edsa-Taft, and Fairview. This brings the hotel firm’s total branches to 45, many of which had catered to hospital frontliners at the beginning of the pandemic, and as quarantine facilities for returning overseas Filipino workers.

“We plan to have at least 5 branches per year. Our target for expansion is like 7-11,” she said, by way of comparison. “I believe Sogo is the largest, fastest-growing hotel chain in the industry…. We are doing this because we want to open more job opportunities to our kababayan in other places in the Philippines.”

Despite the loss of the quarantine business this year, as government lifted pandemic restrictions for inbound travelers, the hotel firm remains optimistic about its income prospects for the year. While she declined to reveal actual figures, Geminiano said they are targetting to equal their 2019 bottomline this year: “Target income is not even pegged in comparison to 2020 or 2021; we are basing it on 2019 (pre-pandemic), and yes the plan still remains [firm] as well as the outlook.”

The hotel firm, whose tagline “So Clean, So Good,” went viral during the pandemic, is a unit of the Global Comfort Group Corp., which also owns Eurotel, ICON Hotel, and other real estate concerns. In 2018, it took over the management of the landmark Apo View Hotel in Davao.

Just three months after the country went into a pandemic lockdown in 2020, Hotel Sogo announced its “New Normal Playbook,” which introduced technology-driven innovations in their corporate uniforms, lobby layout, and installed foot-door openers, no-contact keys and toilet fixtures, along with UVC disinfection lights for rooms and other contact points. It earned private praise even from Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat who shared with this reporter, “They are showing the way for the big hotels.”

For her part, Geminiano said, “We continue to research and develop equipment like these for some added features for the hotel, so everyone is so clean, so good, so safe.”

Other panelists at the Coffee Club forecast a turnaround in the tourism industry as Filipinos go on revenge travel, spending more even on higher airfare, room rates, and extra amenities in destinations. (See, “Revenge travelers are splurging like there’s no tomorrow,” in the BusinessMirror, May 4, 2022.)