A 20-room hotel, where weary travellers can book stays by the hour, will open within the international terminal at Sydney Airport in early 2020.
The first of its kind in Australia, the “aerotel” is the brainchild of former investment banker Song Hoi-see, the founder of Hong Kong-headquartered Plaza Premium Group, which operates 160 pay-per-use airport lounges around the world and 12 specialist in-terminal hotels.
Mr Song said he came up with the idea for the hotel on the basis that conventional airport hotels did not meet the needs of passengers seeking a few hours’ rest while waiting for flights.
“In Sydney, more than half of passengers arrive before 8am. But we all know that a conventional hotel room is not ready until 2pm,” he told The Australian Financial Review.
“So they are forced to either buy one more night so they can check in early when they arrive or wait for many hours. It’s not a good experience.”
He added that people travelling for an early-morning flight from, say, the Hunter Valley, who would normally have to leave at 3am, could leave at a more reasonable time and stay in the aerotel overnight before their flight.
The other issue with conventional hotels, Mr Song said, was that they charged for a minimum 24-hour stay, even if the room was used for only a few hours.
“You see people sleeping on the floor prior to flights,” he said. “For us it’s all about offering comfort, quality and convenience.”
The new Sydney Airport aerotel will be built across 600 square metres within the arrivals hall at the international terminal after PPG negotiated a leasing deal with Sydney Airport.
Guest will be able to check in immediately on arrival with a minimum stay of six hours. Beyond this guests will be charged an hourly rate until they check out.
Pricing will be less than half of that of a conventional hotel, Mr Song said.
“You have to give good credit to the Sydney Airport authority. They have realised there is a lack of services within the airport, which is quite old,” he said.
Mr Song said PPG was keen to expand the aerotel concept to other Australian airports.
“We are talking to Melbourne Airport so hopefully they will announce [they are working with us as well],” he said.
Alongside the aerotel, PPG will also open its first Plaza Premium Lounge.
Before launching the aerotel concept three years, Mr Song came up with his main business idea – pay-per-use airport lounges – when he downgraded from business class to economy class after a career in investment banking.
“All those who travelled business class had lounge access, but what about economy class travellers?” he said.
“There was nowhere I could charge batteries or send a fax. It was very frustrating.
“Out of that frustration triggered my business wisdom: why only provide lounges for the 15 per cent of people who travel business class?
“If you create a business centre for everyone, that will be viable.”
Having opened its first lounge in Hong Kong in 1998, PPG now operates 160 outlets serving 15 million passengers.
“On the ground everyone can be first-class,” Mr Song said.
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