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Global Hotel Alliance Celebrates Ten Years

March 7, 2014 Hotel News No Comments Email Email

Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) was founded in Berlin in 2004, with the goal of helping independent, upscale and luxury hotel brands to compete with the mega-chains, while enabling members to retain their individual identities.

Ten years later, GHA’s members are gathering in Berlin at ITB to celebrate their 10th Anniversary at a gala customer event at Hotel Adlon Kempinski, where the creation of the alliance was first announced exactly ten years ago.

Of the original four founding brands, Kempinski, Rydges & Pan Pacific are still members [Wyndham was replaced by Omni in 2006] and they have been joined by another 19 brands in the intervening years. GHA also has MICROS (NASDAQ: MCRS), the hotel industry’s leading technology company, as a partner and shareholder, and today boasts one of the most sophisticated multi-brand CRS and CRM platforms on the market.

Chris Hartley, who has been CEO of GHA from day one, is leading the celebrations in Berlin, and is still as enthusiastic as ever about what GHA is creating: “Few people thought we would survive more than a couple of years, which is typical of cross-brand partnerships in our industry. However, we had a clear financial objective in mind, which was offering affordable distribution and technology to independent brands. Only once we had the MICROS technology platform in place, did we move ahead with offering consumer-facing products and services, knowing we had the ability to recognise customers across all of our brands. We now have a loyalty programme, GHA Discovery, with 4 million members who drive over $1 billion in annual revenue, as well as preferred partner status with many of the travel industry’s biggest suppliers. So whereas ten years ago, it was more about cost efficiency through leveraged buying, we are now able to offer independent brands the ability to genuinely compete for market share with the mega-chains. That is good for the independent hotel sector and that is good for customers who often prefer a more local experience when they travel.”

GHA’s Chairman Mike Deitemeyer, is also President of Omni Hotels, and sees things from the member’s perspective as well: “Ten years ago, being a relatively small brand meant fighting at every street corner for recognition.  We had limited international sales reach and our loyalty programme only offered hotels in North America,” explained Deitemeyer.  “Today, Omni is part of a global network which means our share of international business is growing, our brand is gaining recognition in new markets, our customers are welcomed and rewarded in hotels around the world, and we are achieving all of that with a lower cost base.”

And Deitemeyer is optimistic about the future of the alliance as well. “There are more and more independent brands, and we are the only serious alliance operating in this space. We now have many independent hotel owners that are considering GHA membership as an alternative to full-scale management contracts, and that is a trend that we only see increasing.”

GHA is separately announcing two new members during ITB, Thon Hotels and GLO Hotels from Norway and Finland respectively, as well as the launch of Ultratravel Collection a new joint venture, aimed at attracting more “ultra-luxury” brands into the broader alliance family.

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