GLOBAL HOTEL ALLIANCE (GHA) had its annual CEOs’ meeting at The Murray, a Niccolo Hotel, in Hong Kong, on the 7 to 10 November 2019. 28 of GHA’s 35 member brands were represented, nearly all at CEO level. Other guests included partners Interbrand (CEO Charles Trevail) and Oracle (SVP Ops Alec Glorieux). Speakers included Finley Walshe, 16, adapting a TED-X talk on Gen-Z: ‘we will keep travelling, it is no longer a luxury – we will pay more on travel than food – we will pay a premium for sustainable travel, but give us content, both social and emotional, and when we contact you by mobile we want immediate feedback’.
The awards, presented by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, saw Wharf Hotels winning overall performance, plus Discovery performance, including customer recognition and local experiences (Wharf CEO Jennifer Cronin’s Hong Kong TST cluster GM Dalip Singh that same night won best hotel GM Greater China at the Stelliers in Macau); The Doyle Collection got cross-brand contribution, Leela was most improved brand, and Meritage Collection’s Ko’a Kea in Kauai was Discovery hotel of the year.
Social evenings were at The Murray’s rooftop Popinjays, at Madame Fu café grand-chinois and, on the final night after a junk voyage around the harbour, Italian-casual at Cucina in the Marco Polo.
One interesting takeaway is that after 10 years, GHA’s loyalty programme, DISCOVERY, is being turned inside-out. DISCOVERY 2.0, being introduced early 2021, will be ‘different’. GHA has now polled 7,200 travellers, including 1,200 who are not DISCOVERY members, to find out what THEY want. Today is a race for the increasingly-important leisure traveller, who currently constitute 51% of all DISCOVERY enrollments, and are already prepared to pay a 20% rate premium for the right product. Overall, says GHA CEO Chris Hartley, until now 96% of its 15 million members never earned enough room night credits to warrant a reward. GHA is buoyed by the fact that. their member brands are owner-operators of two-thirds of the GHA hotel portfolio, and those owners want to increase financial return with minimum 3rd party spend, thus their enthusiasm for the collaborative value of the alliance. GHA, which sees itself, increasingly, as the go-to home for independent hotel collections with, generally, under 100 properties, is owned by original shareholders Kempinski and Omni, plus Corinthia, Minor, Pan Pacific, and Oracle.