Choice Hotels CEO Trent Fraser is expecting a stellar year of growth for the hotel franchisor in New Zealand, in an economy that he believes is on the up.
"The New Zealand market is a real area of focus for us with a strengthening economy and excellent prospects for growth and development," says Fraser. "In a year where New Zealand saw international visitor numbers increase by 6%, we delivered 26% business growth to franchisees directly and we’re expecting another good year in 2014."
Last year, Choice Hotels appointed its first NZ based Development Manager, Julie Carcaterra, to focus on increasing the property portfolio across the country. Choice Hotels is expecting to add between seven and eight properties this year, with a focus on increasing its presence in the South Island in particular.
"With such a promising forecast for growth, we saw a need to add a dedicated resource to the NZ team," says Fraser.
Already this year Choice Hotels has signed a new 23-room property in Tutukaka in Northland, Quality Hotel Oceans Tutukaka, and is looking forward to the April opening of Clarion Suites Ambassador, a new luxury apartment-style property currently under construction in Hamilton’s CBD.
A strong focus for 2014 will be to attract new properties to sit under the latest Choice Hotels’ premium brand, Ascend Hotel Collection, which was added to the group of Choice Hotels’ brands last July to sit alongside existing Econo Lodge, Comfort, Quality, and Clarion brands.
Ascend Hotel Collection is an exclusive group of historic, boutique or unique properties offering a very special hotel experience for discerning guests within the Choice Hotels stable.
"We have several properties signed on as Ascend Hotel Collection members in Australia, including the heritage listed, Castlereagh Boutique Hotel in Sydney," says Fraser. "The Ascend Hotel Collection offers another option to prospective properties that wish to leverage off our distribution services but retain their own unique identities and positioning in their local markets, we look forward to welcoming more Ascend Hotel Collection members in the near future."
Fraser is also pleased to announce that Choice’s current relationship with the franchisee from Comfort & Quality Hotel Wellington has been extended on a new long-term agreement. He says the property is one that embodies all the qualities that Choice look for in a hotel.
"Comfort and Quality Hotel Wellington General Manager, Olivier Lacoua, and his team have really set the standard for New Zealand properties and we’re looking forward to continuing a great partnership."
A 250 plus strong team of Choice Hotels Australian franchisees and head office staff are looking forward to crossing the ditch and joining their New Zealand counterparts for more familiarisation of New Zealand at the first NZ-based annual Australasian conference this July.