Choice Hotels Senior Vice President Mark Pearce and Choices Trent Fraser

Choice Hotels Australasia has celebrated a record year with a focus on service, loyalty and development resulting in many new hotels and new customers for Australia’s largest hotel franchisor group.

24 properties have joined the Choice Hotels portfolio this year, including five Econo Lodge, eight Comfort, five Quality, one Clarion and five Ascend Hotel Collection properties.

Over the past 12 months more than 50,000 new members have signed up to Choice Privileges (Choice Hotel’s loyalty program), an increase that means the overall membership base will climb to an impressive 200,000 by the end of 2014.

Choice Hotels Australasia’s Chief Executive Officer, Trent Fraser, announced the business’ record growth at the Choice Hotels annual ‘On Target to Achieve’ conference, held in Auckland this week.

“While Australian and New Zealand cities have enjoyed an increase in overseas tourists, we’ve been able to tap into the domestic market with initiatives that have helped drive loyalty,” he said.

“These have ensured we continue to drive business and leisure travellers to not only our city hotels but also to our suburban and regional properties,” Fraser said.

Commenting on the success of its Choice Privileges loyalty program, Fraser said the group had focussed on service and encouraging its hotels to get to know their customers, leading the charge with its own ‘Head Office to Front Office’ activity, which saw the group send its entire corporate team to spend a day in a hotel operator’s shoes.

Fraser revealed the Australasian business was seeing significant success for the international parent (who are listed on the New York stock exchange), highlighting its loyalty focus has clearly paid dividends with a 30 per cent increase in Choice Privileges members staying at Choice hotels across the region.

This has resulted in $20 million in stay revenue in the past 12 months, which is a 30 per cent year-on-year increased delivery to Australasian hotels.

“A strong customer focus on our Choice Privileges members and improvement of the service offering to our guests has allowed our properties to gain a competitive advantage and attract new customers,” Fraser said.

“The market cannot underestimate the significance of quality reward programs that drive dividends for hotel operators as well as financial benefits for customers,” he said.

With so many customers choosing to stay with Choice Hotels, the group has added to its property portfolio, with key additions including Quality Hotel CKS Sydney Airport and four Ascend Hotel Collection properties, Balgownie Estate, Paradiso Resort, located in Kingscliff, Oceans Resort & Spa Hervey Bay and new build Kingsford Brisbane.

“We’ve experienced strong growth this year and it’s a real reflection on our strength in the marketplace that we have been able to keep this growth consistent,” Fraser said.

Additionally Choice Hotels has announced major Greater China expansion plans for the hotel group with 30 new build hotels planned for development over the next five years.

While growing, Choice Hotels is also conscious of giving back to community and at the conference Fraser announced a new three-year partnership with Australian not-for-profit group Kids Under Cover that aims to prevent youth homelessness through a program building studio homes for at-risk youth.

In New Zealand, Choice Hotels has also focused on its charitable efforts, recently raising $15,000 from Choice Hotels’ own dedicated Cystic Fibrosis Week where hotels contributed $2 per room stayed over a one week period. Choice Hotels first partnered with the Cystic Fibrosis Association of New Zealand in June 2013, and through the partnership, Choice Hotels has helped to lower travel costs for the association by providing free room nights at their properties across New Zealand.

Highlights of Choice Hotels’ four-day conference in New Zealand also included keynote speeches from the People Interpreter, Allison Mooney, Contiki Holidays Founder, John Anderson and Technology Futurist and Digital Evangelist, Chris Riddell.

More than 250 delegates from Australia, New Zealand and Japan attended the Choice Hotels Australasia conference. Senior management from the US based Choice Hotels International also attended, including: Senior Vice President International Division, Mark Pearce, Senior Director, International Operations, David Beers, Vice President of Shared Services, John Thompson and Director, Hotel Technology, Tore Wick.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management