Choice Hotels International’s growth in Europe centers on targeting its top business clients, providing opportunities for leisure travelers to dream and expanding four pillar brands to become household names in the continent.
VALENCIA, Spain— The nature of hotel ownership and ownership in Europe is constantly changing. But Choice Hotels International aims to continue its franchise push on the continent by persuading owners of the benefits of its distribution network and well-known brands, even if its brands are not as known to European consumers as they are in in North America.
The Rockville, Maryland-based company has “not always looked the same, done things in the same way and at the same tempo,” Mark Pearce, SVP of Choice’s international division, told a crowd of approximately 400 Europe-based franchisees at the 2017 Choice Hotels European Convention.
Choice’s President and CEO Pat Pacious said the company’s Clarion, Comfort Inn and Quality Inn brands need to open with scale before its other brands can be introduced in Europe.
But both executives said they are confident the Choice model will continue to expand in Europe as it has for the last few years.
“Tourism is predicted to outperform gross domestic product (in Europe) through 2025,” Pacious said.
Pearce said Choice Hotels’ target guests in Europe are looking for more for their money.
“Travelers demand transparency and want more and to pay less,” he said. “And then there are the online travel agencies affecting your businesses.”
As for actual assets in Europe, Choice is seeing progress, executives said.
Pearce said recent deals include four contracts in Yorkshire, England, with a total of approximately 500 rooms.
“We signed a multidevelopment agreement across Germany, Austria and Hungary, and we have entered the Middle East,” he said. “By 2022, we will have 9,000 rooms across the region.”
Choice’s first soft brand, Ascend Collection now has 29 properties in Europe, Pearce said, adding that it allows plug and play but not at the expense of individuality.
One Ascend property Choice is excited by is the V8 Hotel Koeln, in Cologne, Germany. Scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2018, the hotel is in Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher’s automobile-themed Motorworld Koeln-Rheinland exhibition park and will house the private collection of the seven-time world champion.
Since the last Choice Hotels European Convention in 2015, held in Amsterdam, Choice’s corporate account business across Europe has grown 46% and group business has increased by 35%, said Carl Oldsberg, VP of international operations.
Sales are coming from a two-pronged method—the Pareto Principle and investing in the dreaming and planning stages of guests’ booking journeys.
Oldsberg said the Pareto Principle is a simple one, in which 80% of all sales come from 20% of leads.
Guillaume Filly, senior director of European sales at Choice, said sales to retail firm Nestle have grown by 129% since the last convention, equaling some 3,425 roomnights.
“Sales have increased 34% in the U.K. and 232% in Central Europe,” Filly said, adding that new hotels in certain markets would raise that number noticeably.
Choice’s Travel Top 6 campaign is a collection of destination guides executives claim are not run-of-the-mill, tired travel guides of major attractions. So far 210 guides are available.
“People dream of destinations, not hotels, unless the hotel is the destination,” said Tess Mattisson, Choice’s director of European marketing.
Editor’s note: Choice Hotels International covered the cost of travel and accommodations to attend the 2017 Choice Hotels European Convention. Complete editorial control was at the discretion of the Hotel News Now editorial team; Choice Hotels International had no influence on the coverage provided.