Direct online bookings explode as Choice Hotels bets on loyalty

Kari Hunter, senior director, strategy, sales and marketing for Choice Hotels Asia-Pacific, said direct online bookings were stronger than ever in the first quarter, with monthly numbers outpacing budgets as business travel and recreation in Australia are coming back.

“Direct online reservations through the Choice Hotels website and our reservations app bring significant value to our franchisees’ businesses and drive recovery,” she said.

Ms Hunter said the trend continued in the second quarter, with new direct online growth in April up 20% year-on-year and 142% from 2019 figures (for APAC).

“Overall, our online channels surpassed all previous records. People are researching their local and interstate stays. They want brands they know and trust, and they want to book the hotel directly.

For the franchisees of Choice Hotels, loyalty and direct link with customers contribute to their profitability in a period of resumption.

“Choice Hotels in Australia reported 20% growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) over last year and competes against comparable competitors in the midscale market with a 2% increase in RevPAR market in the first quarter.

“The Choice Privileges loyalty program has experienced rapid growth this year with a solid range of preferential rates and exclusive advantages for members. More than 10,000 new members from the Asia-Pacific region joined the Choice Privileges program in the first quarter of 2022.

“We now have nearly 500,000 loyal members in the Asia-Pacific region, and they are our best customers – they stay longer, return more often and spend money on site in our restaurants and room services,” said she declared.

“With international borders open, Choice Hotels can leverage the 51 million members worldwide as well as local members to drive business for our franchisees. And as privacy rules tighten around the world, The renowned loyalty programs and the first part data become a key tool for successful marketing and communication programs.

“Many people are very careful when booking, and we have found that there is a huge need for direct relationships between customers and property.

“They want clear information about cancellations, refunds and rebookings, not to mention access to the best rates you can only get when you book direct.”

In New Zealand, the accommodation market recovery is slower and Ms Hunter welcomed the announcement this week of a full reopening of the New Zealand border from July 31.

“Bringing international travelers back to New Zealand is great news. The situation has been more difficult for them for longer, but in New Zealand we have really seen the power of our brands – Ascend, Quality, Comfort and Econo Lodge – to attract and retain domestic business and leisure customers” , she said.

The properties of Choice Hotels New Zealand reached a revp in the first quarter of 49 % to that of their competitors on the market.

“Right now, the traveling public wants to stick with brands they know and trust, and have solid customer service on the phone when things don’t go as planned.”

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