Accor’s Simon McGrath

Exclusive by James Wilkinson

Australia’s leading hotel chain CEOs are calling the AHA-AAoA partnership a “game changer” for the nation’s accommodation industry.

Speaking exclusively to HM, ten of the leading hoteliers in Australia said only good news could come from this week’s historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between two rival associations, the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA).

“Accor has been a major advocate and pushing for a unified industry voice for quite some time,” said Accor Pacific Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath.

“So now that this has been finalised with a MOU reached between AHA and AAoA, we are very confident that the two groups can establish a strong and cohesive organisation to represent a much wider industry.

“Now that tourism and hospitality is recognised as one of the five super growth industries for the Australian economy, it’s about time that we speak with one united voice and become a greater force to get the credit our industry deserves as one of the county’s major drivers of income and employment,” McGrath said.

Mantra Group CEO Bob East said, “The Joint Venture is the first step towards achieving a united voice to government, industry and the general public.

“The visitor economy is a significant economic growth driver and a substantial export earner. The industry doesn’t seek handouts or assistance. However, a united voice will enable us to coordinate with government to improve infrastructure, industrial relations and access issues that stifle potential growth,” he said.

Mantra Group’s Bob East

Under the new joint venture, a new representative board will be formed, with members nominated from the two key associations.

“I became chairman of TAA Accommodation Division just after the split had occurred,” said Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Regional Manager – Australia Pacific, Peter Tudehope.

“At the time it had a very negative impact on the perception of our industry.

“Despite this, there was always a determination within both organizations to come back together.

“The behind the scene hard work done on behalf of TAA by Roger Powell, Tony South, and Carol Giuseppi supported by Scott Leach and on the AAoA side by Richard Munro and the AAoA board is the reason we have achieved this announcement.

“As a single association we represent one of the largest employment bodies in Australia and as a result of the new partnership we will be doing our representing as one united voice.

“One of the most exciting things that will come out of the new partnerships is the potential quality of the new board that the association will have representing it,” he said.

The move comes following months of extensive discussions and the aim of the new combined body will be to provide “a complete advocacy body to support the accommodation industry”.

“I’ve been an advocate of this for a very long time,” said Hilton Worldwide Vice President – Australasia, Ashley Spencer.

“It pulls together the strengths of both organisations to the benefit of the industry. Advocacy is important for any industry and one voice with one agenda will be very powerful.”

Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s Area General Manager – Oceania, Craig Bond, said, “It is exciting that progress of the partnership between AHA-AAoA is moving forward that will give the industry one voice.”

Amalgamated Holdings Limited’s Group Managing Director, David Seargeant, said, “It is extremely important we present one voice to government and more broadly through our media communications, and that voice is focused clearly on issues directly related to the best interests of the hotel sector.”

InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) Australasia Head of Operations, Bill Edwards, said the partnership was “a really positive move for the Australian hotel industry”.

“It’s an exciting time of change and progression, and having one unifying voice is testament to the direction the industry is taking,” he said.

“I’m sure they will be able to represent the best interests of our sector more efficiently and effectively with one cohesive body and we look forward to continuing to work alongside them as we un-tap the value that tourism can bring to the country.”

Trent Fraser_CEO_and_Mark Bouris 2

Choice Hotels Australasia Chief Executive Officer, Trent Fraser, said, “Firstly, both organisations should be congratulated on this historic partnership. It’s a game changer and can only be of benefit to our industry and all of our stakeholders. We’ll be doing all we can at Choice Hotels to support the new organisation.”

According to the AHA and AAoA, the key features of the JV agreement include:
-The new organisation will unite the accommodation industry under ‘one voice’;
-It will provide a powerful organisation for the industry, particularly when advocating to governments on major issues;
-The new organisation will represent all sectors within the accommodation sector for the first time, providing strength in numbers;
-The JV will be a genuine merger between two equals – AHA and AAoA; and
-The new organisation will aim to create the best possible conditions for the accommodation industry.

“Having one voice to represent the industry is the most positive initiative for accommodation providers in a generation,” said Best Western Australasia Chief Executive Officer, Rob Anderson.

“This has been a long time coming and it is good to see that there is more binding us together than reasons to stay apart.

“Full credit is due to the current leaders of both organisations for driving us forward. We have long complained that various governments weren’t taking our large but fragmented industry seriously, now we are taking ourselves much more seriously and I look forward to working with the merged organisation on improving both business and employee opportunities,” Anderson said.

Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and Wyndham Hotel Group South Pacific’s CEO and Managing Director, Barry Robinson, said, “If we look at it from a practical sense, it is good business to have one strong industry body representing the entire accommodation industry – it doesn’t matter what level of accommodation you are, we are all about providing the best possible service we can.”

Quest Serviced Apartments Chairman, Paul Constantinou, said, “This is a major milestone for the Hospitality Industry. The sum of the parts consolidated as one voice, will definitely produce enormous benefits for all stakeholders. Well done to all members of the association(s), for driving this outcome.”

Barry Robinson at Wyndham Denarau Island
Wyndham’s Barry Robinson

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management