Every year since 2004, GHA gathers its alliance members at their annual CEO Committee meetings. The 2019 conference took place in Hong Kong last November.
For the last three years, GHA has presented awards to acknowledge the performance and success of its member brands, to showcase best practice and to create a bit of friendly competition among the CEOs to drive their teams to improve performance and collaboration across the alliance.
In Hong Kong, Chris Hartley, GHA’s CEO, announced the 2019 awards to member brands of the alliance covering eight categories, which were then presented to the winning CEOs by Sarah, Duchess of York, who was a special guest for the evening.
At the awards ceremony, one hotel group stole the show and took away the top prize in not one, but four categories. And it was Wharf Hotels that was the winner for Overall Performance 2019, DISCOVERY Performance 2019, Member Recognition 2019, and Local Experiences 2019.
To tell us why these awards are important, and how the group won so many of them, Wharf Hotels’ President, Jennifer Cronin, shared her thoughts.
Jennifer Cronin on success with GHA
Wharf Hotels is a Hong Kong-based hotel group incorporating Marco Polo Hotels and Niccolo Hotels. We rely mainly on our own sales efforts and our regional customer base in China, Philippines, Japan, and South-East Asia, as well as Australia. But by becoming part of GHA, our 17 hotels can reach a more extensive customer base from around the globe from among the 17-million DISCOVERY members.
Our journey with GHA began in 2006 when the Marco Polo brand became a member. Marco Polo signed on eager to explore the opportunity that GHA offered through the DISCOVERY loyalty programme. Immediately after joining, we saw an impact on our brand exposure through the shared loyalty database. Our reach to the global customer base increased, and so too did our ability to compete with the global brands.
With over 35 independent hotel chains in the alliance today, the collaboration between brands, where DISCOVERY members are encouraged to travel from one brand to another, generates cross-brand revenue. Our hotels have been part of the alliance for more than a decade and continue to see cross-brand revenue increases every year. In 2019, Marco Polo Hotels saw a continued YOY increase of 14%, whereas our new luxury brand Niccolo Hotels experienced significant cross-brand revenue growth of 118%.
It's not just the loyalty programme which is of benefit to Wharf Hotels and others. As independent brands, it is of great value that we have the opportunity to share best practice with like-minded organisations. GHA offers a best-in-class framework to compete with the hotel megabrands - while empowering each member to retain their independence, creativity and uniqueness, as well as jointly focusing on the delivery of DISCOVERY benefits and Local Experiences to our shared customer base.
We appreciate the collaborative spirit that we practice at all levels by sharing successes and challenges between alliance members from a broad range of areas including technology, systems, product enhancements and developments, sales and marketing capabilities.
How Wharf Hotels took home the awards
Working with the guidelines set out by GHA, each of our hotels has a dedicated DISCOVERY Hotel Champion, who is an expert in the loyalty programme. Hotel Champions train their colleagues internally, ensuring that each DISCOVERY guest is well-acknowledged upon arrival and is aware of Local Experiences that await in the destination the guest has travelled to.
Winning the awards in 2019 must be credited to the contribution of our Hotel Champions, who drive the success of the performance and programme delivery. They have worked consistently to achieve high results. But the ongoing engagement is driven by all, from the President to General Managers, to Brand Champion and Hotel Champions.
Hotel staff are also contributors to our success. We have established KPIs for the General Managers on key DISCOVERY pillars: enrolments, post-stay surveys (member recognition), and Local Experience redemptions. Besides, Wharf Hotels arranges Hotel Champion meetings at the brand level.
Our accomplishments in 2019, leading to the four awards, are a direct result of our brands leveraging the marketing offered by GHA, as well as the alliance brand activities to drive awareness and cross-brand promotion.
Participation and making a meaningful contribution are key to enjoying the optimal results available through the alliance. This is unique. Only through the alliance do we see competing independent hotel brands working together, and genuinely benefiting each other.
When one GHA member succeeds, we all enjoy the benefits of this success. The awards are a fantastic reminder of how we each contribute.
To learn more about the alliance and how to become a member, get in touch with the GHA team.