2001 Business Travel Poll results

Puttin'' on the Ritz

These are tough times for the airline and hotel industries. And our survey reflects this. Over 64% of our 282 respondents said they would be traveling less over the next year thanks to the worsening economy.

And 43% said they would make a point of traveling less due to their security concerns after the World Trade Center tragedy.

But tough times or no, our poll - now reckoned to be Asia's most definitive business travel survey - gives the verdict on the best airlines and hotels in Asia as voted by you, our readers. And you matter because you are among their highest margin customers.

Why? You fly business class (200 out of 282 said so) and spend an average of 50 nights in hotels per year. Only six out of our 282 respondents said that the most important thing for them when choosing a hotel was 'price'. That suggests to us that you are, therefore, the sorts of customers that hoteliers crave.

And the hotel you love the most is the Ritz-Carlton Millennia in Singapore, which was voted the Best Business Hotel in Asia. It must be those wonderful octagonal bathroom windows - and the service, of course.

This was the first time we'd asked you to vote for the region's best hotel. Otherwise, this year's poll saw only marginal change at the top. The top hotel in 13 out of 14 cities remained unchanged. The only upset was the Grand Hyatt's surge to the top in Shanghai - indeed, it was unplaced last year.

Likewise in the airline category, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific continued their duopoly at the head of the rankings. As with last year, Singapore was again the conclusive winner, cleaning up on Best Overall Airline, Best Food and Friendliest Cabin Crew.

Indeed, on the latter point one frequent flyer commented to us that one friendly Singapore Girl had struck up such a rapport with him on his many flights that one day as she was pouring from the silver service she said "What would you like today, sir - coffee, tea or me?"

Back on the ground, Cathay's excellent Wing lounge (love that long bar, love the noodle bar) held top spot in the best airline lounge category. However, one wise soul did comment, "Technically, the best lounge is the Wing, but the location is poor relative to the design of the airport."

Indeed, how many of us have had to make that run to gate 48, having lost track of time?

As usual we asked for your positive and negative comments on airlines, and as usual the negative comments outnumbered the positive by a colossal amount.

One balanced view that we could all agree with was: "Overall, nothing has been impressive. I would have to say that on a few occasions where I was upgraded, that was the best thing an airline did for me in the past year."

Almost all the positive comments surrounded upgrades.

One nice story that involved (no surprise) Singapore Airlines involved a frequent flyer whose wife left her coat in the departure lounge in Singapore. Says the happy passenger: "They had it delivered to our country hotel in Durham within 48 hours and checked whether we got it."

Another said she was given a Mont Blanc pen when business class was full and she was shunted into the screaming cesspit of economy.

On the negative front, comments ranged from "delivery of food by Pakistan Air" (we can imagine) to "Cathay Pacific continuously gives you the Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune from the day before on the first flights from KL, Singapore and Korea. This is extremely annoying and shows how cheap Cathay is by not buying papers locally."

There were also complaints that FinanceAsia could not be read in Cathay's business class (Cathay took it out when they decided from their profiling that passengers only wanted to read lifestyle magazines). However, members of the Marco Polo club can pick up copies in the Wing, where they are freely available.

A lot of us travel very frequently on Cathay, and to be fair many of us possibly have unrealistic expectations. But as one said: "My bad experiences all relate to poor delivery of information related to delays and cancellations. They are capable of better but simply do not deliver. (It's not just a pilot problem)."

Another airline that gets a bit of a beating from respondents is British Airways, with one saying: "It has the worst service I have ever seen. Overbooking of flights by 25% is the norm and their ground staff leave a lot to be desired."

But if Tracy from Romford is a problem, then what about those chirpy people at Qantas: "A Qantas flight attendant took a Wall street Journal out of my hands after I boarded and said rudely it was for business class passengers only."

Or United: "Three cancelled flights and two lost bags (in one day)."

Sounds like a Crowded House song.

And speaking of music, the winner of the lucky draw for poll participants goes to DJ Paul Kelly, who when he is not spinning discs, runs equity syndicate at ING Barings. He has won a weekend at either the Park Hyatt in Sydney, the Oriental in Bangkok or the Caravelle in Ho Chi Minh City.

Which hotel is the best in Bangkok:

Oriental

86

Shangri-La

49

Sukhothai

49

Grand Hyatt

34

Peninsula

28

Regent

12

Other

3

Total

261

 

Which hotel is the best in Beijing:

Shangri-La

83

Palace Hotel (Peninsula)

52

The St Regis

37

Great Wall Sheraton

34

China World

21

Kerry Centre

12

Hilton

10

Other

6

Total

255

 

Which hotel is the best in Hong Kong:

Peninsula

73

Island Shangri-La

63

Mandarin Oriental

58

Grand Hyatt

31

Conrad

30

Ritz-Carlton

15

Other

3

Total

273

 

Which hotel is the best in Jakarta:

Grand Hyatt

95

Shangri-La

51

Mandarin Oriental

39

Regent

33

Hilton

7

Total

225

 

Which hotel is the best in Manila:

Shangri-La Makati

115

Peninsula

64

Mandarin Oriental

31

Inter-Continental

13

Dusit

4

Total

227

 

Which hotel is the best in Mumbai:

The Oberoi

74

Taj Mahal

51

Sheraton Grand Maratha

17

The Regent

16

Le Meridien

12

Hotel Oberoi Towers

9

Holiday Inn

6

Renaissance

6

Total

191

 

Which hotel is the best in Delhi:

The Oberoi

85

Hyatt

37

Taj Mahal

26

Taj Palace

21

Hilton

8

Total

177

 

Which hotel is best in Kuala Lumpur:

Ritz-Carlton

80

Mandarin Oriental

60

Shangri-La

40

Regent

21

JW Marriott

20

Sheraton Imperial

9

Total

230

 

Which hotel is the best in Seoul:

Grand Hyatt

81

Shilla

58

Ritz-Carlton

40

Westin-Chosun

37

Hilton

8

Inter-Continental

5

Total

229

 

Which hotel is the best in Shanghai:

Grand Hyatt

86

Portman Ritz-Carlton

71

Pudong Shangri-La

25

Shanghai JC Mandarin

18

Hilton

11

Inter-Continental Pudong

7

Total

218

 

Which hotel is the best in Singapore:

Ritz-Carlton Millennia

139

Four Seasons

42

Shangri-La

28

Oriental

18

Grand Hyatt

12

Fullerton

11

Inter-Continental

7

Regent

3

Total

260

 

Which hotel is the best in Sydney:

Park Hyatt

78

Ritz-Carlton (Downtown)

59

Sheraton on the Park

39

Inter-Continental

13

Hilton

7

Total

196

 

Which hotel is the best in Taipei:

Grand Hyatt

83

Sherwood

48

Far Eastern Plaza

42

Grand Formosa (Regent)

42

Hilton

6

Total

221

 

Which hotel is the best in Tokyo:

Four Seasons

80

Imperial

54

Park Hyatt

42

Okura

32

New Otani

17

Total

225

 

What is your favourite business hotel in Asia?

Ritz-Carlton Millennia, Singapore

39

Island Shangri-La

31

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

25

Others

64

Total

159

 

What is the best hotel chain in Asia?

Shangri-La

100

Hyatt

58

Four Seasons (Regent)

49

Mandarin Oriental

43

Peninsula

15

Total

265

 

What is most important to you when choosing a hotel?

Location

109

Room quality

79

Service

57

Amenities

22

Price

6

Total

273

 

How many nights do you spend in hotels per year?

50+

50

21-50

122

11-20

73

1-10

29

 

Which airline offers the best all round quality and service for business travel in Asia?

Singapore Airlines

165

Cathay Pacific

82

JAL

5

Thai

4

Malaysian Airlines

3

British Airways

2

Dragon Air

2

Korean Air

2

Total

265

 

Which airline has the most outstanding food & beverages?

Singapore Airlines

152

Cathay Pacific

44

British Airways

11

JAL

10

Qantas

5

Korean Air

5

Thai

4

Malaysian Airlines

3

Emirates

2

Virgin

2

Air France

2

Dragon Air

1

Lufthansa

1

Total

242

 

Which airline has the friendliest cabin attendants?

Singapore Airlines

139

Cathay Pacific

46

Thai

18

JAL

8

British Airways

5

Malaysian Airlines

5

Qantas

5

Korean Air

3

Jet Air

1

Virgin

1

Dragon Air

1

Total

232

 

Which airline class do you normally fly?

First

11

Business

200

Economy

66

  

 

What is the best airline lounge in Asia?

The Wing, Hong Kong (Cathay)

105

Singapore Airlines lounge, Singapore

77

Other

35

Total

217