With a vision to strengthen its position as the favourite provider of hotel, apartment and resort accommodation throughout Australia and New Zealand, Mantra Group has undergone significant restructuring and recapitalisation to lay the foundations for its expansion strategy.

In August 2009, Stella Group was restructured and recapitalised, with Stella Travel Services and Stella Hospitality Group being separated into two independently operating businesses.

Bob East and Michael Lalli

The rebranding of Stella Hospitality Group to Mantra Group shortly after signaled a fresh sense of independence for the company which has forged ahead with a strong balance sheet concentrating on being the best in its field.

Company CEO Bob East said that with the Mantra Group brand already very well embraced by the market, the Group could now set about expanding its three consumer brands Peppers, Mantra and Breakfree with confidence.

Each of the three brands have benefited from successful re-launches over the past 12-18 months, resulting in even stronger brand strength and acceptance.

Market penetration and brand awareness is enhanced with considerable advertising.  Mantra Group dominates advertising in the Australian media’s accommodation sector, consistently ranked the number one advertiser.

“Continuing the strong growth of Mantra Resorts into key corporate and leisure destinations across Australia and New Zealand will be a major focus in the coming years,” East said.

A recent example was Mantra Group’s strengthened commitment to Queensland’s Whitsundays region by signing a management agreement for the new One Whitsundays development at Shingley Beach due for completion in 2012.

To be marketed under the Mantra brand, it comes hot on the heels of another new property for the group in the region with the recent opening of Peppers Coral Coast Resort at Airlie Beach which has exceeded all expectations in terms of business success.

“With more than 140 properties in our group under the three brands we are closely monitoring tourism trends and forecasts and have identified the Whitsundays as just one of the growing hot spots for development and tourism,” East said.

“We are committed to bringing our world-class brands to these areas and contributing to long-term tourism growth.”

In November this year Mantra Group stepped up its ongoing strategy of acquisition and divestment by selling the management letting rights of some of its smaller, non-core properties  representing just 2.5% of room stock in the company’s portfolio and less than 2% of profit.

While Mantra Group does not need to divest in order to acquire new properties, the move has further paved the way for the company to bid on larger projects that better align with its brand and growth strategies, with some premium Gold Coast hotels amongst those being considered.

An important part of the growth strategy will be aligning the high-end Peppers brand to unique properties and locations with a particular focus on establishing a Peppers gateway CBD property within the next 18 months.

“Celebrating its 25th anniversary in October, we have proudly built Peppers into one of the most iconic accommodation brands in Australia offering an intimate and personalised holiday experience across a portfolio of around 25 retreats, resorts and hotels,” East said.

Mantra Group also plans to tap into the burgeoning regional accommodation market utilising the simple appeal of the BreakFree brand which has redefined the way Australian families think about affordable, self contained holidays in great locations.

Another key driver of growth for the Mantra Group brands will be the franchise and marketing service relationships forged on the strength of the company’s central reservations (CRES) system and superior distribution platforms.

“We have developed a world class distribution network which gives us the ability to communicate and market to the industry as well as the consumer,” East said.

East said CRES had seen a huge growth over the past 12 months, with consumers liking the convenience of booking a destination through a centralised system.

Mantra Group’s distribution strength lies in over 20 years of industry experience and relationships with key wholesaler partners both domestically and internationally.

Through a strong presence amongst consumers and the travel trade alike, Mantra Group provides a total travel solution and ‘one stop shop’ for all accommodation needs. Customers also benefit from Mantra Group’s strong and fruitful relationships with relevant government and marketing bodies.

Additionally, a strong online presence and e-marketing strategy drives business through the Group’s websites as well as providing the means for selling distressed inventory.

As part of the Mantra Group central reservations system, properties are automatically linked to 4,000 travel agents worldwide, more than 300 wholesalers, past guests, last-minute sites and corporate partners.

East said Mantra Group’s ultimate focus would continue to be the guest experience offered by the three distinct brands of Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree.

“Our products, service, positioning, pricing and promotion of each brand are designed to meet the core needs of our guests and our company structure, training, procedures, policy, development, culture and processes are, in turn, modified for each brand,” he said.

“The end result is a robust confident business that is delivering both in terms of management performance and profitability.”

For more information on partnering with Mantra Group, visit www.mantragroup.com.au