Wednesday March 5th, 2014 - 9:35AM
DUBAI, UAE—With 23 member brands and 425 hotels, Global Hotel Alliance is marking its tenth year as an organization helping independent, upscale and luxury hotel brands to compete with mega-chains.
Of the original four founding brands, Kempinski, Rydges and Pan Pacific are still members [Wyndham was replaced by Omni in 2006] and they have been joined by another 19 brands in the intervening years. GHA also has Micros, a hotel industry technology company, as a partner and shareholder, providing multi-brand CRS and CRM platforms.
Chris Hartley, CEO of GHA, stated, “Few people thought we would survive more than a couple of years, which is typical of cross-brand partnerships in our industry; however, we had a clear financial objective in mind, which was offering affordable distribution and technology to independent brands. Only once we had the Micros technology platform in place did we move ahead with offering consumer-facing products and services, knowing we had the ability to recognize customers across all of our brands. We now have a loyalty program, GHA Discovery, with 4 million members who drive over $1 billion in annual revenue, as well as preferred-partner status with many of the travel industry’s biggest suppliers. So whereas ten years ago, it was more about cost efficiency through leveraged buying, we are now able to offer independent brands the ability to genuinely compete for market share with the mega-chains. That is good for the independent hotel sector and that is good for customers who often prefer a more local experience when they travel.”
GHA’s Chairman Mike Deitemeyer, who also is president of Omni Hotels, stated, “Ten years ago, being a relatively small brand meant fighting at every street corner for recognition. We had limited international sales reach and our loyalty program only offered hotels in North America. Today, Omni is part of a global network, which means our share of international business is growing, our brand is gaining recognition in new markets, our customers are welcomed and rewarded in hotels around the world, and we are achieving all of that with a lower cost base.”
Two new members, Thon Hotels and GLO Hotels from Norway and Finland, respectively, are now part of GHA, which also is launching Ultratravel Collection, a joint venture aimed at attracting more ultra-luxury brands to the Alliance.