More than 170 delegates took part in the 2015 Golden Chain Australia & New Zealand Conference and AGM, co-hosted by Hostplus, held at the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour on 18-21 October.
A record number of owner-operators, suppliers and consultants saw keynote speakers and panellists educate, inform and inspire those present.
Mark Loneragan, General Manager of Golden Chain Motor Inns, declared that the overwhelming success of the conference was a testament to the underlying strength of the Golden Chain brand and how much operators appreciate a valuable point of difference by being part of the brand. “I am extremely proud of the three nights and three days of events put on. There are exciting times ahead for Golden Chain with a new chairman, new regions opening and already over 15 new locations in the pipeline” he said.
The conference featured speakers and panel discussions by a cross-section of leading industry innovators. Keynote presentations were delivered by Richard Munro of the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA), Matthew Burke of STR Global, Adrian Caruso of Fastrack, and David Bonouvrie of Pocket Social. Panel discussions included valuable refurbishing tips and tricks, with a focus on return on investment. Methods for driving direct business and improving customer engagement were also hugely popular panel sessions.
Newly appointed Chairman of Golden Chain, Geoffrey Davis, called the conference uplifting and informative. Mr Davis comes to the position of Chairman with over twenty years of experience in the management of hospitality properties in Australia. He praised the online marketing focus of the conference. “Accommodation operators need to stay abreast of sophisticated digital marketing strategies in the fast moving tourism market” he said. He noted that the panel experts shared strategies for owner-operators in two key areas, namely improving online presence and managing yield in the face of increasing commission rates and market share of online travel agents.
Mr Davis also commented that the conference was the first opportunity for Golden Chain’s new General Manager, Mark Loneragan, to meet members face to face. He said that Mr Loneragan instilled confidence in the membership to the point that members felt the management and marketing of Golden Chain was in good hands and on the move up.
Mr Loneragan praised the passion of the independent owner-operators who attended the conference. He noted that Golden Chain is one of Australia’s largest accommodation groups, with over 250 hotels, motels, inns and serviced apartment properties spread across every state and territory of Australia. He highlighted some of the many benefits Golden Chain provided its members. “Via its centralised booking website, printed travel guide, property referral system and loyal Gold-Link Travel Club members, Golden Chain drives business to its 250 strong network” he said.
Richard Munro, Chief Executive Officer of the AAA, said he was very enthusiastic about the increase in members’ attendance at the conference. “These conferences are essential for a whole host of reasons. Aside from the collegiate atmosphere and networking opportunities, delegates have the opportunity to ask questions and hear new ideas and concepts that can genuinely assist their business” he said.
Glenn Powell, having been voted in as a Golden Chain board member, described the conference as sensational. “Keynote speakers presented industry-based topics which were of interest, varied, current and comprehensive, giving those members who attended a wealth of information to implement, especially in the internet and social media fields” he said. “The panel forums touched on topics which affect us as property owners and gave a good crosssection of views. This was all backed up with suppliers displaying their latest products and technology for our industry.”
In addition to the discussion panels, over 150 delegates attended a cocktail function at Cruise Bar, Circular Quay, where they were delighted by surprise guest, actor Sam Johnson. Mr Johnson arrived on his famous unicycle and enthralled the audience with stories of his epic trans-Australia journey. A gala dinner cruise was also held on Sydney Harbour, with outstanding food and wine provided for the 200 conference guests in attendance and new Golden Chain awards were announced aimed at recognising excellence in service and quality for best performing operators. Fantastic prizes were donated by Hostplus, Sleepmaker, the AAA, Sealy, Avico and Robert Timms.
The conference co-host was Hostplus. Sleepmaker Commercial was the platinum sponsor of the event. Avico, Polesy, Sealy, Star Ratings and Swisstrade were the gold sponsors of the event. EziMaid Bed Lift, Fastrack, Finn Foster, Guestpoint, HUM Energy, Kelloggs, Prototype, RMS, Robert Timms and South Pacific Laundry were the silver sponsors of the event. Support also came from the AAA. “On behalf of members, I thank Hostplus and all the sponsors as this years’ conference was particularly well supported by industry suppliers” said Mr Davis.