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Choice Hotels European Convention: refreshment for Comfort brand

The franchisor Choice Hotels held its convention for European franchisees in Amsterdam on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 April. An operation of seduction and animation of the strategic network for the American company which operates 100% in franchising. On the menu: further development in Europe, reinforcement of distribution technologies and refreshment of Comfort brand.

The sun is out, the tulips too. There are crowds along the Amsterdam canals and Choice Hotels' franchisees met at the RAI Convention Center for the European Convention. "Empowerment" is the key word for these 2 days. In an increasingly complex tech-driven world, the American company wants to reassure its franchisees. As master of the ceremony, Mark Pearce, Senior Vice-President of International Division, highlights some of the challenges as well as the duality of this new digital age: complexity means new opportunities. And Choice Hotels does not plan to become a follower. Furthermore, hoteliers should bear in mind that the human dimension always does and always will make a huge difference to customers... Roles are assigned: to franchisees, the quality of the hospitality through human care and well-maintained amenities; to the franchisor, the mission to develop and implement powerful marketing strategies, technological tools and innovative designs.

Choice pursues development in Europe

RevPAR

First, Choice Hotels which remains an American-based company with more than 80% of its rooms in North America wants to pursue its presence in Europe. The old continent remains the leading tourist destination. Last year, RevPAR growth was still terrific. However, as the market consolidates in Western Europe, Choice Hotels wants to expand eastward. The partnership with Sercotel has also boosted Choice Hotels in the Spanish market.

Digital and Distribution

Carl Oldsberg, Vice-President of International Operations, expose Choice Hotels' digital strategy in Europe.
Mark Pearce invited Carl Oldsberg, Vice-President of International Operations, on stage to explain Choice Hotels' digital strategy in Europe. 

In order to increase the share of direct bookings, Choice Hotels has emphasized its loyalty program "Choice Hotels privileges Reward" and has demonstrated the interest of granting a 5% discount to its loyal customers rather than pay high fees to an OTA. In addition, Choice's new website will make online bookings easier. Organic search has been optimized as all language versions are now hosted on the same web domain. A content marketing strategy has also been implemented via an inspirational platform called Travel TOP 6 which offers articles and advice to travelers especially about Choice Hotels' destinations. Finally, the revenue management department should help hotels significantly improve their RevPAR.

Revitalize the economy segment

New Comfort room
The new Comfort room

During a review of the 4 brands present on the old continent - Comfort, Quality, Clarion and Ascend Collection - , Mark Pearce unveiled a new logo and a new room for Comfort. It aims at rejuvenating Choice Hotels' cash cow brand that generates 45% of its income and was launched at the end of the 1980s. Rooms, lobbies and exteriors have been refurbished for 5 years in the United States and 70% of the 300 hotels in the pipeline are new-build hotels that will open with the new design enabling the brand to be much younger. In Europe, franchisees will have until 2020 to complete renovations.

Reinforce the extended/long-stay segment and the upscale segment in the US

Patrick Pacious about the strategy of Choice Hotels
Patrick Pacious presents the global strategy of Choice Hotels

This has been one of the main issues since Patrick Pacious became CEO in 2018. The Choice Hotels group relies particularly on the Cambria brand. The brand intends to continue development on the domestic market to increase its notoriety before expanding in Europe. No date can be communicated for the moment. Patrick Pacious also wants to develop the extended long-stay segment through the brand Woodspring Suites acquired last year.

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