Hospitality Business Magazine

Choice Hotels sets local growth record; predicts bumper 2016

rsz_choice_hotels_trent_fraser_ceo_choice_hotels_asia-pac_reflects_on_2015_business_succeChoice Hotels Asia-Pac (Choice Hotels), representing the Econo Lodge, Comfort, Quality and Clarion hotel brands, has celebrated its best year ever on record across New Zealand.

The hotel franchisor released the New Zealand business highlights for 2015 that included a RevPAR[1] increase of 13 per cent year on year and an increase in business delivery of 53 per cent. This has resulted in an additional 34,000 room nights delivered to the 30 plus local properties. Increases driven by Choice (via its website and contact centre) has seen revenue more than double for some properties.

The forecast for the year ahead is also positive, with Choice Hotels Asia-Pac CEO Trent Fraser revealing that for January 2016 the hotelier has experienced similar double digit RevPAR growth.

“We’ve seen an increase in domestic travel across New Zealand likely due to the buoyant and stable economy ultimately driving an increase in leisure and corporate travel. In addition, inbound travel from China in particular continues to perform strongly, with more free-independent travellers choosing to travel to regional areas rather than staying only in Auckland.

“As a result, we’ve been able to contribute an additional 34,000 room nights to properties in the last year through all of our different programs,” says Fraser.

Choice Hotels last week announced the rollout of a series of bold changes to its Choice Privileges (CP) guest rewards program. Fraser anticipates that these changes will result in increased travel and higher use of the program.

“The Choice Privileges changes will ensure that our loyalty program remains relevant and important to our guests. Customer service is our highest priority, and these changes provide more value to our existing members,” says Fraser.

The company also recently launched its new brand identity, Choice Hotels Asia-Pac, and a new direction as a result of a global rebrand by Choice Hotels International and after recognising a need to establish a new identity in an already crowded market.

The new brand better reflects its position and expansion plans in the Asia-Pacific region and focuses on the reasons why people travel and encourages more offline connections.

Fraser says is pleased with the new direction the brand is taking and highlights the importance of offering that each customer ‘always has a choice’ in their accommodation experiences. “From extensive research we’ve learned that a lot of the reasons why our guests travel is to connect with people, not just travel to places. We want to empower them with choices that help them more easily connect in person and offer them an environment that encourages them to spend more time making their face to face connections,” says Fraser.

To further build on its own offline connections and as part of its commitment to charity partner Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand, the hotel franchisor has also bolstered its fundraising efforts. Choice hosted its first Corporate Golf Day at Titirangi Golf Course in November, raising $5,000 through donations and silent auctions. Paired with its annual dedicated Cystic Fibrosis Week, where hotels contributed $2 from any night stayed throughout a one-week period, this saw Choice Hotels give a total of $25,000 in donations in 2015 to Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand.

The appointment of Brendon Smith as Development Manager for New Zealand has likewise led to exciting growth opportunities for Choice Hotels, with a number of new properties opened in 2015 and some exciting announcements planned for early 2016. With more than 20 years of experience within tourism, hospitality and events, Smith has a proven background in business development.

Fraser is optimistic that Choice Hotels will experience a strong 2016 following its 2015 business success. “We’re kicking off with two new properties coming on board in Christchurch and Timaru and an exciting new luxury offer to be announced in the first quarter.

“The prognosis for 2016 is on par to match – if not exceed – that of 2015. We’re very happy with how things are tracking,” says Fraser.