Pro-invest Hotels’ recently-appointed Area General Manager for New Zealand, Fraser McKenzie, spoke to HM’s Ruth Hogan about opening the nation’s first dual-branded hotel property, and future plans for growth.
Being from Auckland, how does it feel to see such strong hotel investment in your hometown?
My return to New Zealand has been both emotionally engaging and a refreshing experience to see the growth and maturity of the hotel industry after a 17-year hiatus from Auckland, eight years out of New Zealand. This [dual development] is a landmark hotel construction that adds not only to the Auckland skyline but enhances New Zealand’s gateway hotel offering with two international brands – voco and Holiday Inn Express. With authentic Kiwi service, Auckland continues to be a premier destination for conventions and exhibitions and is a must stop location for domestic and internationals leisure travellers, and it is of no surprise that investment in the hotel space is growing.
You’ve worked in various hotels throughout Asia Pacific and in this new role you’ll be overseeing Pro-invest’s growing NZ portfolio. What makes New Zealand hotels and hospitality unique, in your opinion?
The consistent quality hotels in this country underpins the authentic approach New Zealanders have to the service industry. It is the professionalism and engagement of our teams that make the difference and creates a desire for international tourists to engage. The hospitable nature of Kiwis also provides a high level of confidence for event and incentive organisers, all over the globe. The feedback we regularly get from our source markets is that people are struck by our amazing teams and unparalleled experiences.
With Holiday Inn Express and voco both occupying this new development, how will they complement one another?
Doubling the hotels rooms that our IHG One Rewards membership can access in Auckland, as well as providing multi-level accommodation with different service offerings in the one location puts us in an unrivalled position. Whether its travellers wanting to immerse themselves in an upscale voco experience, or travellers in town for an event or visiting friends and family, voco Auckland City Centre and Holiday Inn City Centre provide secure, central accommodation in the beating heart of Auckland City. We have one team that works across both hotels, which means consistency of service and local operators and event organisers can take comfort in knowing they have a single point of connection across both brands.
The two hotels both have very different customer value propositions, but what attributes do they share?
Voco Auckland City Centre provides an upscale hotel experience from Mozarella & Co’s Italian styled creations to the unsurpassed views of the inner harbour and beyond from Bar Albert, our rooftop venue. Holiday Inn Express Auckland City Centre offers upper-midscale convenience and practicality with absolute connectivity from the front door to the in-room casting technology. While different propositions and value offers, it is the authentic, attentive team moving across both hotels that create a memorable experience for our guests – all under-pinned by the IHG True Hospitality values and operating culture.
What does the future look like for Pro-invest in New Zealand?
With hotels in two of the country’s key destinations, Pro-invest Hotels is a significant provider in both or domestic and international tourism and we’re excited for the future. The trajectory Pro-invest Hotels has had in the Pacific in 2022 has been extraordinary, having opened seven hotels this year alone. Voco Brisbane City Centre and Holiday Inn Express and Suites Sunshine Coast opened in June, and we feel a great connection with sister properties across the ditch and we have no doubt that the growth in these hotel brands will be of great benefit. We will have exciting news to share [about new hotels] in the not-too-distant future.