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Small brands, big opportunities with GHA DISCOVERY

By Kristy Howgate, Global Hotel Alliance

Independent hotel brands are the hospitality industry's backbone, providing authentic and local experiences and the all-important human touch, which are in more demand today than ever before. Independent hotels have a unique DNA that the cookie-cutter brands simply cannot replicate. But let’s be honest: the sales and marketing clout of the major players is a force to be reckoned with. Consolidation, whereby small brands are swallowed up by the giants, is simply not the answer. The solution is an alliance of outstanding independent brands that can leverage a pool of products, services, and benefits akin, if not superior to, those offered by the large chains – from technology to training – without losing their autonomy or independence. Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) has achieved just that, bringing together more than 800 hotels across 40 brands in 100 countries to collaborate in powerful ways.


GHA is an alliance, not a company. We work with our independent hotel brands to establish a strategy that benefits all based on principles of integrity and transparency. Our team is passionate about working closely with every brand to ensure they get the best out of GHA and our loyalty programme, GHA DISCOVERY. We take a collaborative approach and encourage our brands to share examples of best practices facilitated by committees and global team meetings, both of which are popular with all. It's a chance to share ideas and benefit from the experiences of others, including hotel brand CEOs, and establish effective ways to deliver success across every aspect of the hotel business, from sales to operations to marketing. From cross-brand promotions that generate maximum impact globally, thanks to the collective power of the alliance, to exploring new sustainable practices, together we deliver tangible results.


GHA provides unrivalled support based on each brand’s needs. From SOPs and online training to daily and live reporting via a dedicated General Manager’s app, we provide access to world-class tools and services as and when needed. Every brand has a personal account manager, and all documentation is accessible via one platform, around the clock. Hotels and brands maintain their independence and identity and, of course, their own databases but can access resources and markets that would otherwise be unreachable without significant investment. The alliance takes the hassle and expense out of reaching the full potential of independent hotel brands, whether it’s negotiating with third parties on their behalf to maximising revenue or distribution channels, or providing face-to-face training to upskill team members, empowering them to ensure brands and hotels excel, now and in the future.


GHA is not only committed to meeting the far-reaching needs of alliance hotel brands but listens and responds to feedback from the soon to be over 21 million members of its loyalty programme, GHA DISCOVERY. Simply put, by tailoring our programme to the lifestyle and travel behaviours of our members, we deliver more business to our hotel brands. In December 2021, based on a global customer research study, with travellers asking for more flexibility on how they earn and spend, including the chance to accrue and redeem rewards close to home, we re-launched GHA DISCOVERY.

The reimagined programme is modelled around three member-centric concepts: a new simplified digital rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars (D$); Recognition, with more tiers and enhanced instant benefits; and Live Local, offering ‘around-the-corner’ lifestyle experiences, from spa days and dining to weekend staycations and more. For our hotel brands, it generates more business year-round, whether guests are popping into their local property for the day for spa or F&B experiences, for example, or heading overseas for a once-in-a-lifetime ‘bucket-list’ trip, such as the trend following two years of travel restrictions and social distancing. By enabling members to cash in on their loyalty from the very first stay and to earn and redeem a wide range of benefits, including upgrades, stays and exclusive experiences, there are more reasons than ever for members to spend time at alliance properties around the world. This programme is unique to GHA, and our hotel brands are already reaping the benefits.


The pros of GHA DISCOVERY participation are many, but one aspect hotel brands appreciate is the reporting function, with a powerful BI platform providing vital business information at the touch of a button. There are reports across the various Brand-level and Hotel-level functions from finance to programme metrics to marketing and distribution results. The Hotel General Manager Report can be accessed from the General Manager’s phone, providing an analysis of the business generated. The information displayed includes the source of business (local/regional/global), enrolments, production by tier level, what percentage of business is generated from promotions, and the results of special promotions with other member brands. It’s instant, transparent and empowers GMs to make business decisions, including the activation of targeted marketing tactics. To further drive results, GHA offers marketing solutions, giving brands and their hotels a platform to communicate their product or brand offerings to the global database of GHA DISCOVERY members.

Alliance member brands tell us the deep-dive reporting capabilities GHA offers are second to none, providing crucial business insights they would otherwise be unable to collate without significant investment in technology. To complement this digital service, GHA’s account management team works with each brand to identify marketing opportunities to drive additional business to their brand, based on this reporting.

These are just a few of the many ways in which GHA and GHA DISCOVERY help independent hotel brands reach their full potential, showcasing their unique products, services and guest experiences by means that resonate with modern-day travellers and giving brand custodians the tools they need to make informed forward-looking business decisions.

If you would like to know more, visit

Kristy Howgate is Head of Membership Services at Global Hotel Alliance.


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