There's plenty of new happenings emerging from the oldest country in the world, says Rafi Baeri, vice president, marketing and sales, North American for Dan Hotels, Israel, who was in town last night alongside partners from the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
"Anywhere there's something worth seeing in Israel, you'll find a Dan hotel," Baeri told PAX.
READ MORE: “There’s something for everyone” in Israel
During the month of October, a record number of international tourists entered Israel - 486,000, an all-time record for inbound visitors and tourists in a single month. Of that group, 42 per cent were visitors from North America. Tourist stays in October averaged seven days per tourist, and total income an estimated at $720 million (NIS 2.63 billion). It's great news for luxury chain Dan Hotels, Israel's leading luxury hotel group.
According to Baeri, travellers tend not to stay any longer than seven nights in one hotel, given they want to see everything the small country offers. But, for those who do, any one of Dan hotels 13 luxury properties more than delivers, and even has a special incentive for guests who stay—their new GOLDAN7 promo means those who stay seven nights or longer in any Dan Hotels property enjoy a discount of 13-15 per cent off the regular rate.
Who are Dan Hotels?
Back in 1947, the year before the state of Israel was formed, two brothers had a vision. Dan Hotels was born, and today, remains the oldest veteran hotel chain in Israel, with 13 luxury properties scattered throughout Israel (four in Jerusalem, three in Tel Aviv, two in Eilat, two in Haifa, one in Herzliya, one in Caesarea) and a brand new property just opened in Bangalore, India, the hotel's first international property.
It was understood that a luxury market was necessary to support the influx of tourists that the state would soon see.
"In 1947, either they [Dan hotel's founders] were crazy, or they were visionaries; we're talking about a country that was on the brink of war with all five of its neighbouring countries, and had a major shortage of raw materials—and now, 70 years later, from this meager start, we have 13 hotels in the country," Baeri told PAX.
This year has been a big one for Dan Hotels, the first major milestone being the opening of Den Bengaluru, in Bangalore, India.
A new concept has also been launched, operating under Dan Hotels. Link Hotel & Hub Tel Aviv is the first prototype, and offers guests of Dan Hotels a very different concept than the original service offering.
"We talked about creating a very young, technology-driven, social hotel for the millennial," explained Baeri.
Link Hotel & Hub
Link Hotel & Hub properties operate around three specific elements:
1. App-driven operations: Checking in and out of the hotel, turning on and off the lights in your room; ordering room service, and even opening and closing the curtains is all done via an app on your smartphone.
2. Link to the city: all hotels have commissioned Tel Aviv's most publicized street artists to decorate a floor of the hotel. Dan Hotels designs the hotels, but asks artists to imagine the vibe themselves; artists are given free range to bring the city's soul to life inside the hotel.
3. WeWork: Dan Hotels has created a vibrant hub in its Link Hotel & Hub properties, not just a lobby, where guests can work during the day, while interacting with other business-minded Israeli's and tourists, but also to network and unwind at night with drinks and entertainment.
Moving on & reaching out
Last weekend, Dan Hotels announced the acquisition of 10 new hotels currently operated by Rimonim Hotels, Resorts, & SPA, a local hotel chain.
From north to south, Israel is roughly 300 kilometres, and east to west, 60 kilometres. It's a relatively small country, and hotels, including Dan Hotels, have a tendency to cluster in and around the major cities, like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but other areas closer to the desert and sea, are almost untouched.
"If you look at Israel on a map, there's a void between the Sea of Galilee, and in the desert," Baeri said. "The new hotels we've bought really fills in the type of hotels we can offer in Israel. The acquisition is roughly 140 million shekels, and it should be finalized within the next few weeks. It's a very exciting time for us, in comparison to the very gradual and conservative development of Dan Hotels. Since the beginning of the company, we've never sold a hotel and we've never closed a hotel; we've always added."
According to Baeri, Dan Hotels is a true Israeli brand that exemplifies the utmost luxury and hospitality in a semi-formal way. It's not uncommon for the chain's frequent guests (Dan Hotels has a 35 per cent repeat rate) to know staff by name, and vice versa— if a guest is used to getting a specific room, or likes things done a certain way when they're in town, they expect Dan staff to remember! For a hotel chain that serves 70 per cent of tourists and only 30 per cent of local Israeli's it's these smaller details that make all the difference.
Dan Hotels fully owns all of its properties, including the new hotel in India.
Israel's tourism boom
By the end of December, Israel will welcome approximately four million tourists. It's the second year in a row that Israel has seen double-digit growth from Canada.
"For Dan Hotels, this is very important, because the chain was established as a luxury chain with the Canadian and American customer in mind," Baeri explained.
"So far for Canada, we've already exceeded last year's number, which was 85,000, and we have a good feeling that we'll hit the 100,000 mark for 2018, and projections for 2019 are through the roof," added Adler. "The travel trade has finally realized that Israel is safe, and they're generally interested in Israel for their clients, whether that's FIT, families, Shriners groups, and the big bread and butter market, church groups, to visit the Holy Land and retrace the origins of their faith."
North American visitation aside (42 per cent), the largest source markets come, in this order, from Russia, France, England, and Germany. Visitation numbers from India and China are also quickly growing, thanks in part to a new route to Tel Aviv from Air India, which runs four times weekly.
China's visitation numbers are approximately 120,000 per year, and growing significantly over the past five years.
Despite empty-nesters being a key market to Israel for a very long time, millennials are quickly coming through, especially with the expansion of Israel's leisure market. Travel times throughout Israel are very short; visitors can go from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in about 45 minutes, "so 50 minutes in traffic, and you can't even cross Toronto in that time," Adler joked.
Dan Hotels offers a way for guests to earn rewards both during and after their stay at any Dan Hotels property, through its Loyalty Club.
Once inside the hotel, Loyalty Club members can enjoy a 12.5 per cent reduction on everything bought in the hotel, from the spa services to the room service. They also receive an exclusive gift with every stay, and earn points towards future free stays or service.
Dan Hotels also works closely with travel agents, and all of their hotels can be found on GDS platforms, and guarantee full commission to agents.
Travel agents can click here for more information about Dan Hotels.