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Franchising leaders

HM gets the latest on the segment from the top chains in Australasia THE BUSINESS OF ACCOMMODATION IN ASIA-PACIFIC Vol. 21 No.6 Bi-monthly December 2017

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THE PERFECT

Choice How CHOICE HOTELS ASIA-PAC are inspiring people to take more short breaks.

Designer beans

A special report on coffee and how to serve the perfect cup

Technology trends

HM’s annual guide to the best in technology for the year ahead

In-room luxe

Bathroom amenities are of a higher quality than ever before


Where in the world would you rather be? RELAX | DIVE | SAIL | GOLF | LIVE | PLAY | HAMILTONISLAND.COM.AU


contents Bi-Monthly – December 2017

24

Features.

50 Interior Design

24 HMQ&A

One on one with new IHG CEO, Keith Barr

26 General Manager

HM sits down with Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s Greg Brady

30 Investment

The growing portfolio of Canberra-based Doma Group

34 Rooms Division Bathroom amenities in the spotlight

38 Technology

HM’s special tech report on what to expect in 2018

30

Renovation to brand standards and top tips in restaurant design

52 Development

An in-depth look at franchising for hotels

56 Human Resources HM looks at some of the best leadership programs

Check In. 04 Inside Word

The editor’s letter

06 News

What’s made headline news in the hotel world across Asia-Pacific

40 Technology

18 Development

44 Technology

57 Human Resources

The latest audio visual technology and trends

Property and reservation management systems

46 Technology

Mastering social media: why it’s more important than ever

Interviews, news, profiles and new developments

People on the move

58 Concierge Corner Interviews and news from Les Clefs d’Or Australia

47 Technology

The do’s and don’ts when it comes to WiFi in hotels

Franchising leaders

HM gets the latest on the segment from the top chains in Australasia THE BUSINESS OF ACCOMMODATION IN ASIA-PACIFIC Vol. 21 No.6 Bi-monthly December 2017

48 Rooms Division

The top trends with inroom appliances

49 Food and Beverage Why coffee is still the top hot drop

40

IMAGE NOT SUPPIED YET...

THE PERFECT

Choice How CHOICE HOTELS ASIA-PAC are inspiring people to take more short breaks.

Designer beans

A special report on coffee and how to serve the perfect cup

Technology trends

HM’s annual guide to the best in technology for the year ahead

In-room luxe

Bathroom amenities are of a higher quality than ever before

On the cover. 16 Choice Hotels Asia-Pac How

26

Choice is driving business to regional properties. Photographed for HM in Melbourne. A Choice Hotels Asia-Pac promotion.

hotelmanagement.com.au 3


insideWORD

AccorHotels’ Mantra takeover the talk of the town

This year’s Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) in Hong Kong was abuzz with the news that AccorHotels had been given the green light by the board of Mantra Group to acquire the company for AUD$1.3 billion. For many attendees, the biggest secret in the hotel space in Asia-Pacific over the past year was out in the open and seemingly everywhere you turned, the deal was being discussed. In an exclusive interview with HM prior to HICAP, AccorHotels’ Chairman and CEO of Asia Pacific, Michael Issenberg, said the proposed acquisition of Mantra Group was a “big bet on Australia”. His choice of words could not have been more perfect, given the takeover is coming in the company’s 50th year of operations – and its 35th in Asia Pacific – and in Australia, a market Accor has had significant success in. AccorHotels has certainly come a long way over the past 50 years globally and even more so in Asia Pacific where the growth has been staggering. “We had our first hotel in Singapore in 1982 and we had our 100th hotel in Asia-Pacific in 1996,” Issenberg told HM. “And then it was our 300th hotel in 2006. Now, ten years later, we have just passed 800 hotels. “So that’s 500 hotels we have added in the last 10 years and the growth continues to accelerate. “We are not counting Mantra in the numbers for next year yet because we have some hurdles to get through and hopefully that will come to fruition, but after opening 120 hotels this year we anticipate doing that next year excluding Mantra so it really has been an extraordinary ride.” While AccorHotels was adding 120 properties a year to its network, Issenberg said the company was still being selective before signing any new project. “We can’t just focus on growth for growth’s sake,” he told HM. “We are always looking for good projects and good partners. “Just taking on a hotel for the sake of it and if it’s not going to be successful, believe me you don’t want to do it because if you sign the wrong brand in the wrong location then the amount of work you will need to make it successful is disproportionate. “You need to do the right project with the right brand in the right location,” Issenberg said. In this edition of HM, we have comprehensive coverage of Accor’s proposed takeover of Mantra from page six plus an extensive technology feature and much more. Enjoy the read and I look forward to your feedback. Yours in hospitality, Technology

Technology

Tech FRIENDLY at what’s HORNER looks consultant TED globe. Leading hotel industry y for properties across the hot in technolog

for

ION over human interaction and prefer technology 1. SERVICE AUTOMAT are becoming popular, Today, many guests

S

options elf-serve is in. check-in and check-out that let guests order room service that simple tasks. Remote with apps guest requests beginning to work range of basic some hotels are There’s a whole up for other activities mobile devices. frees hotel staff right from their technology, which accelerate. with the right is only going to can be automated And the trend guest experience. that enhance the G OF AGE IS BECOMIN Hotel Suites in AS DOOR KEY installs at Skye 2. MOBILE DEVICEarrived in Australia with recent follow. While still small uptake to has now Valley with more This technology this technology Crowne Plaza Hunter Hilton is pushing to adopt this Parramatta and gain traction and hotels will begin it is starting to I believe that many of this technology overseas. campaigns. and advertising here in Australia heavily with global commonplace both becomes more technology as it iPads in OMS installed Apple in Australia have 3. TABLETS IN GUESTRO room services via a number of hotels guests to order In the last 12 months guest compendiums plus allowed Hotels such as of Sale System). replace with hotels Point guestrooms to These properties full integration Skye Hotel Suites. orders their tablet (including Elements at Byron Bay and plus room service in Perth, I has been very positive Crown Towers over the phone. and guest feedback orders being placed evidence that have installed them, cent over previous there is now sufficient by up to 20 per these systems as have increased hotels will install believe many more previously. not was where there NT there is a ROI

LESS IMPORTA

of BECOMING the pervasiveness PHONES ARE room phones. However, a vastly reduced role if at people used their phone to or Once upon a time, conventional room for a text messaging has relegated the remove them altogether hotel in Orlando Florida mobile devices will in my opinion staying at a resort all and many hotels my room I I am currently and on entering of application. of mobile number Whatsapp type issues and instead asked me for my I had internet and on check reception asking me if my room was ok, message instant reply received a text and received an I texted my issue calling reception

4. GUEST ROOM

TO FOR HOTELS AND THE NEED 5. GUEST APPS ED WITH THEIR GUESTS the guest experience. every aspect of guest STAY CONNECT guest entails nearly to operate—and

to to hotel services deal notifications you could use everything from app combines rate for a conference, a map of designed guest using the group complete with If you see a guest of this the event itinerary, loyalty programs. some element send your guest major hotels have the app to electronically of the major flags will be held. Most every day. Some where sessions . Regardless meeting spaces adding capabilities is still in development already, and they’re experience and integration picture in play of the technology with a truly connected are closer, but much one thing is certain—the hotel first, of who gets there empowered guests. happy and very will be full of very bandwidth-sucking BANDWIDTH every Internet or pleasure, 5. BATTLE FOR guests are bringing travelling for business A laptop. A tablet. whether they’re reliably as A smart phone. And and travel. quickly as when they guest it if they can’t connect device they own to deliver a better going to hear about in their efforts n & Hotspot you can bet you’re hospitality brands at home. The best using Central Authenticatio they’re used to requirement Wi-Fi technology and removing the rolling out new experience are devices more easily in the same hotel. can connect their or every new stay 2.0 whereby guests every new day to connect automatically and room number allowing them chains. to enter last name their devices and for the major hotel a guest details and is only going Remembering the new battleground in the hotels is bandwidth at hotels from their the demand for to the Wi-Fi network solution, rest assured, wish to download their own content room. Whatever the new smart TV in the particularly as guests share with the to grow dramatically want to screen phone and then tablet or smart

Q&A

Q&A

Being able to N-BASED SERVICES but the implications are huge. in hotels, creates all kinds is in its infancy at any given time to This technology guests are located to deliver services hotel staff and from being able understand where more efficiently guest experience, event staff operate to improve the rooms to helping of opportunities points being them from their with Wi-Fi access guests while freeing and beyond. Now rooms more quickly to turning over is possible . the hotel, this N installed throughout AND RECEPTIO SPACES: LOBBIEScan get out of their rooms but BLED PUBLIC guests hospitality A place where 7. TECH-ENA technology in Local info guides. The use cases for these guest Airline check-ins. or get work done. transforming relax are to still access Wi-Fi hospitality businesses their terms. Many year, and savvy engage tech on where guests can seem to grow every their online hotel semi-public spaces technologies in at desires into stylish these kinds of find themselves may eventually beginning to include that lack them guests are even so hospitality businesses of this is Citizen M. search criteria, examples One of the best a disadvantage. chairs and nice SPACES about tables and H MEETING No longer is it have access 8. HIGH-TEC people need to space has evolved. technology. Business The modern meeting metimes both meetings run on with remote attendees—so serving carts. Modern services like catering d like access to and do video conferencing meetings, they’ to multimedia these spaces And for the marathon smart hotels know they need ly. dedicated simultaneous . Most of all, the past that required are limited A/V rooms of with minimal interruptions needs as possible. The kinds of business to be as user-friendly an option. If you think these of the picture: longer an important part engineers are no spaces, you’re missing technology enablement in tyle conference to boardroom-s asking for advanced are increasingly business customers halls, as well. n and eventfor It’s been a busy few months ballrooms

6. LOCATIO

K

eith, there are some very exciting times for both you and the company at present. As you announced at HICAP, one of the brands you love the most is making a bit of a challenge in Asia at the moment. We were thrilled to buy Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants and then take it internationally. Of course we took it to Europe with the launch in Amsterdam and at HICAP we announced bringing it to Asia Pacific with three amazing hotels. We are opening up a resort in Bali, a resort in Sanya and a fantastic hotel in Shanghai as well too, so three incredible Kimptons which will help shape the brand across Asia Pacific.

It’s an exciting brand for IHG because, it’s very strong restaurant brand alongside designer hotels with fantastic rooms. These hotels need to have fantastic food and beverage, don’t they?

Yea. You have an incredible design-lead brand, so every hotel every guest room is unique and special based upon the location and the inspiration. But it’s also underpinned by an incredible restaurant and bar operation. So there’s a real buzz and vibe to them, which makes them a really exciting places to go.

Keith Barr’s

You’re also seeing great brand growth across Asia Pacific generally too aren’t you? And you’ve also made some major leadership changes.

We’re seeing great growth across Asia Pacific – and as an example we’re signing hotels in Vietnam with a new InterContinental – and we’re seeing growth across our entire brand portfolio been very focused right now of making sure internationally we’re set up for success and growing in all the key markets. And so we’re thinking about how we structure the company. It’s how do you win in Australia and New Zealand? How do you win in Japan? How do you win in India and Southern Asia and the Middle East and so forth, and then design an organization that’s really fit for purpose to do that.

ASIA PACIFIC AMBITIONS InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) new CEO, KEITH BARR. Since stepping into the role on July 1, he has launched a new brand, shifted the Asia-Pacific leadership responsibilities to Europe and announced the arrival of popular boutique brand Kimpton into this part of the world. During the recent 2017 Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP), the former head of IHG for Australasia sat down exclusively with JAMES WILKINSON to talk about the changes and much more.

Business of Accommodati

“Regions are artificial constructs for companies and the real thing is ‘how do you win each market and understand what is special and unique about it?”

So this is forgetting about some of the old school hotel chain leadership rules and adapting to the market then?

Yeah and I want to be a bit contrarian. My two big experiences that shaped my views on this was when I went to Australia and ran that business and understood how do you really win in a market and owning end to end in terms of owner relationships, performance, government relationships and so forth. And then when I went to China and making that a standalone business and understanding how to win in that market. Regions are artificial constructs for companies and the real thing is ‘how do you win each market and understand what is special and unique about it?’ How do you resource it appropriately and make sure that your go-to market structure is appropriate? So, I’m really excited about the changes we’re making.

hotelmanagem

ent.com.au 3

9

Many of your newer brands are also getting great traction in the market here, such as Indigo and Even. So, you’re really looking at opportunities in different segments in the right markets aren’t you?

The core brands are doing exceptionally well. With InterContinental, we now have 40 in China. We have nearly 100-plus in AMEA [Asia, Middle East and Africa] and China as well too. So, we’re seeing the core brands continue to grow. We are also filling out white space with our newer brands too. We launched Hotel Indigo in 2010 in Shanghai and that produced phenomenal results. Now so we’ve got six open and 12 in the pipeline in China and another 20-plus in the pipeline across Asia. So you’re seeing real growth there. We’ve now announced Even hotels in Australia and New Zealand and then Even hotels going to China with four great hotels which we just announced.

which connected A smartly single hub from The vision of the as that needs a to host these functions. Something as complex devices are the natural place mobile apps for personal 38 HM The

program in the industry. So that’s fundamentally kind of the thing that really ties everyone together across the brand portfolio. It’s really strong in the developed markets. In the US, loyalty is pivotal. We are seeing that continue to grow as brand portfolios get bigger and as distribution gets bigger across Asia Pacific and China in general. So, it’s increasingly important and we are seeing it go from strength to strength. Technology is at the forefront of what you’re doing, not just for travellers but also back-end systems too. I think what makes the big hotel companies successful today and the investments we’re making in technology are more significant today than ever before. We’re launching a new central reservation platform that is actually in pilot phase right now and that will launch completely in 2018. That will transform the way that we do reservations in inventory and rate management as a company and it will be a leader in the industry. Big companies can afford to do those things, while small companies can’t. And the way you invest in mobile, the way you invest in digital and so forth. So, technology is fundamental to your future success and how you engage with customers and create value for owners.

on

How big is Asia-Pacific getting for IHG? Obviously the Americas are huge for IHG, but how fast is Asia-Pacific catching-up to the Americas? In terms of scale, the US is a massive business overall, which it is for all of the international hotel companies. But Asia continues to grow and actually Asia Pacific – both China and the rest of Asia – is the fastest growing region for us internationally and as a company too. So, that’s a great momentum to have overall, so we’re seeing its importance continue to grow as you’re seeing increasing wealth, growing middle classes, more interregional travel and international travel too. So, it’s great to see our brand portfolio really land appropriately and well-rounded in this part of the world.

On the rewards side of things, are you seeing a more loyal customer base in the rest of the world like you have in the United States? Definitely. All of our brands are underpinned by IHG Rewards Club, which is critical for our success. We have 100 million members around the world and we have the largest

KEITH BARR, CEO, InterContinental Hotels Group The MICE segment is something incredibly important to your company. How is MICE going for IHG at present and we seeing that segment bounce back?

MICE is fundamental in certain hotel brands in certain markets overall. We’re seeing real strength in that and you’re seeing it in some of the international destinations and seeing businesses continue to grow and accelerate. I’m really surprised the strength of MICE in greater China. You’re seeing our big box hotels with meeting space consistently full now to levels I didn’t believe would be possible and full from both international, but from domestic demand as well.

Your newest brand Avid was launched into the market with a lot of fanfare. Is this just going to be a brand for the Americas? It’s going to be a great brand for the Americas. I’ve been shocked at the level of interest. Hundreds of owners are interested in signing up with it, so we’ll see that take off the scale pretty quickly. Then we have to look at how we take it internationally. It has huge potential to go into markets where we can build it to scale. So we have to get the first one open in the U.S. and then figure out how to take it abroad. n

James Wilkinson Editor-In-Chief HM magazine and hotelmanagement.com.au 24 HM The Business of Accommodation

hotelmanagement.com.au 25

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4 HM The Business of Accommodation

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News, Interviews, Opinions, Reviews

AccorHotels bids to buy Mantra Group AccorHotels has made a AUD$1.3 billion offer to acquire all of the shares in Mantra Group in a move that would see the French chain add over 127 hotels to its network in Australasia, Indonesia and the USA. It is the largest takeover ever seen in the Australasian hotel industry and over the next four pages HM has a comprehensive report on what to expect next, the ramifications of the deal and much more.

Mantra Group CEO Bob East

6 HM The Business of Accommodation


News

Mantra Group’s board approves AccorHotels’ acquisition Mantra Group’s board has approved a proposal from AccorHotels to acquire the company for over AUD$1.3 billion. The deal, which will see all shares of Mantra acquired for AUD$3.96 per share, will see AccorHotels add 127 hotels to its network across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the United States (Hawaii), taking its network to over 370 hotels in the Australasia region. “The Board of Directors of Mantra Group Limited is pleased to announce it has entered into a binding agreement with Accor S.A whereby AccorHotels will acquire all of the shares of Mantra at a price of AUD$3.96 cash per share (on a fully diluted basis), including a potential share dividend, by way of a scheme of arrangement,” Mantra Group said in a statement. “The Directors of Mantra unanimously recommend that Mantra shareholders vote in favour of the Scheme, and intend to vote Mantra shares in their control in favour of the Scheme, in each case in the absence of a superior proposal and subject to an Independent Expert concluding that the Scheme is in the best interest of Mantra shareholders. “The Scheme is also subject to certain regulatory approvals being met,” the Board said. The acquisition of Mantra Group continues AccorHotels’ aggressive global expansion which recently saw the company buy Fairmont Raffles to create the world’s largest network of luxury hotels. AccorHotels Chairman and CEO, Sébastien Bazin, said the company was thrilled with the acquisition of Australia’s second largest hotel chain.

Delighted: AccorHotels Chairman and CEO, Sébastien Bazin

8 HM The Business of Accommodation

AccorHotels is not only acquiring some of Australia’s top properties but also some of the most talented staff in the industry

“We are delighted to have come to an agreement to acquire the Mantra Group,” he said. “This operation will underpin our long-term growth in the Asia Pacific region. “Mantra’s portfolio would offer AccorHotels additional accommodation formats and a strong customer base to complement our successful hotel portfolio in Australia. “We are confident that the transaction terms are attractive for shareholders of both groups,” Bazin said. Properties in Mantra’s portfolio range from luxury accommodations and coastal resorts to serviced apartments in city and key leisure destinations, under three key brands: Peppers (28 properties), Mantra (75 properties) and BreakFree (24 properties). Mantra, which has over 5,500 employees, also manages core accommodation services including guest relations and reception areas, restaurants and bars, conference and function centres, pool and entertainment facilities and offices. “The AccorHotels offer represents an attractive proposition for Mantra and for our shareholders and the Board unanimously recommends AccorHotels’ proposal,” Mantra Group Chairman, Peter Bush, said. “AccorHotels is one of the world’s leading hotel operators and we trust that our business will be in good hands. “Mantra’s strong expertise in apartments, in particular, and our presence in resort locations

are very complementary to the AccorHotels operations in Australia and New Zealand. “The combined business will be an important part of Australia’s strong and growing tourism market and its customers will benefit from the market leading expertise of both groups,” Bush said. AccorHotels says its combined geographic footprint with Mantra, together with enhanced distribution and systems, would form a favourable base from which AccorHotels can expand further in the region. “Mantra’s expertise in apartment management, in particular, will offer a new opportunity for growth,” AccorHotels says. The acquisition will be accretive to earnings per share in the first year of ownership pre-synergies. AccorHotels will pay AUD$1.3 billion. “Besides, AccorHotels confirms it is in discussion with potentiall investors in relation to the sale of part of the Share Capital of AccorInvest,” AccorHotels says. “The Group aims at signing an agreement before year-end 2017. At this stage, the Group has no certainty to reach an agreement.” The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, including from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board, the Federal Court of Australia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as the approval of Mantra shareholders and other customary conditions. It is anticipated that subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals, the transaction should be completed by the end of the first quarter 2018.


News

MANTRA TAKEOVER IS ‘A BIG BET ON AUSTRALIA’ FOR ACCORHOTELS

Accor’s Michael Issenberg with COO Pacific, Simon McGrath

AccorHotels’ Chairman and CEO of Asia Pacific, Michael Issenberg, says the proposed acquisition of Mantra Group is a “big bet on Australia” by the company in a market that continues to see strong growth. Speaking exclusively to HM in Hong Kong during the company’s recent Asia-Pacific executive leadership meeting which coincided with HICAP, Issenberg said the nation had been a solid performer for the group and the proposed Mantra acquisition would further strengthen AccorHotels’ position in the country. “For Accor, it is a big bet on Australia in particular, but as you know we have always found Australia to be a great market for us and we have been very successful there and we continue to focus on it and we think [the acquisition] will be beneficial to us and we certainly believe in the market in Australia,” he said. AccorHotels has been growing solidly across Australia over the past decade and Issenberg said the Mantra acquisition only adds to that strength. “And that’s where the Mantra acquisition for us is great because it is remarkable how complimentary it is… so we are really excited about that,” he said. “The Pacific [region] has really gone gangbusters for us and there is a lot of activity there and besides the major acquisition [of Mantra], it has been the busiest it’s ever been. “Even compared to the pre-Sydney Olympics days, this has been the most prolific development activity we have seen in the Pacific. So, from a development perspective it’s been great,” Issenberg told HM. On October 12, Mantra Group’s board revealed it approved a proposal from AccorHotels to acquire the company for over

Top property: Peppers Broadbeach

AUD$1.3 billion, a move that would see the Australia’s largest accommodation group take over the second biggest. As part of the deal – which will need to be approved by Mantra’s shareholders in early 2018 – would see AccorHotels add 127 hotels to its network across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the United States (Hawaii), taking its network to over 370 hotels in the Australasia region. Accor’s Australian footprint would grow dramatically under the deal, but Issenberg said there was confidence in the performance of the market. “Australia still remains predominantly a domestic market, it has a good and consistent economy and the real ‘cream’ if you will is going to be the growth in inbound tourism, which we also believe has a great future,” he said. Issenberg said while there were some hurdles that needed to be overcome prior to AccorHotels taking over Mantra – such as the shareholder vote and regulatory approvals – there was excitement within the company about the acquisition. “Absolutely… there is a high level of excitement,” he told HM. “You don’t make a transaction like that every day. “We acquired Mirvac five years ago, but this is more than double the size of Mirvac, so it is very big. “In fact, it would have been more challenging to acquire Mantra if we hadn’t acquired Mirvac [Hotels] because that did give us the confidence in a number of segments, including MLR [Management Letting Rights]. “Compared to our international competitors, that’s an advantage particularly in the Australian market,” Issenberg said.

A number of hotel chains did not pursue the opportunity to acquire Mantra given some of the segments the company operates in – such as MLRs – and Issenberg said Accor’s expertise in that area and others would also prove to be an advantage not just with the Mantra deal, but also going forward. “Not just in Australia, but in general growth tends to feed on growth for exactly that reason,” he told HM. “We can demonstrate the stronger we are in a market, the better we perform for a whole variety of reasons. That’s when growth feeds on growth because you develop expertise in terms of human capital, your systems, your ability to do more marketing and it feeds upon itself. “At the end of the day, owners only choose us if we can deliver the best return and we believe our growth and scale enables us to do that.” The Mantra acquisition aside, Asia-Pacific continues to produce massive numbers for AccorHotels with Issenberg revealing 50 per cent of the development pipeline globally is coming from the region and the company had come a long way since its debut in the region over 35 years ago. “We had our first hotel in Singapore in 1982 and we had our 100th hotel in Asia-Pacific in 1996,” he said. “And then it was our 300th hotel in 2006. Now, ten years later, we have just passed 800 hotels. “So that’s 500 hotels we have added in the last 10 years and the growth continues to accelerate. “We are not counting Mantra in the numbers for next year yet because we have some hurdles to get through and hopefully that will come to fruition, but after opening 120 hotels this year we anticipate doing that next year excluding Mantra so it really has been an extraordinary ride.”


News

It’s not a done deal yet AccorHotels’ takeover of Mantra Group for AUD$1.3 billion might not be a done deal just yet, with the door still open for other investors to snap up Australia’s second largest chain. In an exclusive column for HM, the Asia Pacific head of Hotels and Hospitality at law firm Withers, ROBERT WILLIAMS, analyses that possibility and some of the other complexities surrounding the largest hotel industry acquisition in Australian history.

Mantra Group announced in early October that it has entered into a binding agreement for Accor Hotels Group to acquire all of the shares of Mantra, through a scheme of arrangement. Mantra’s board has unanimously recommended the deal to shareholders, and the transaction is not subject to finance or any further due diligence from Accor. Outside of the scheme of arrangement process, the only remaining hurdles are clearing the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), FIRB (Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board) and securing Mantra shareholder approval. This follows the Accor board approving the offer overnight Australia-time. After six months of speculation in the industry around Mantra’s future notwithstanding its continued strong performance, this news is a great endorsement of the scale and quality of the business the Mantra team has built, as well as the strength of the Australian hotel sector. The tie-up was initiated by Tony Ryan of JLL’s hotels and hospitality M&A group (who provided commercial advice to Accor). We understand

Accor engaged UBS as corporate finance advisor and Dransfield Hotels and Resorts to crunch the detail and numbers on the operating platform. There are a number of interesting talking points on this transaction, which are likely to be the subject of some debate in the coming weeks. To pick a few: • Pricing of the all-cash offer looks strong on recent trading, though there was some commentary earlier in the week from the Financial Times in London that at AUD$3.96 it represents good value for Accor; • Large-scale Chinese capital has withdrawn from M&A deals globally in the last 6 months or so, putting non-Chinese trade buyers in a more competitive position to make acquisitions. However, as Marriott found with Anbang on Starwood, there may be other suitors out there for Mantra, who could launch a competing bid; • The timetable on the scheme of arrangement is not quick. The Independent Expert’s report, which hopefully will sign off on the deal being in the best interests of the Mantra shareholders, is not expected until February

Peppers Gallery Hotel Canberra

10 HM The Business of Accommodation

Withers’ Robert Williams

2018, kicking off the formal process to complete the deal; • Only the brave would take on Accor, who is a dominant operator in the region, and has deep transactional experience. Accor has been the most active of the global operators by some way in reshaping its business over the last two years, including through acquisitions. Accor can undoubtedly unlock a number of synergies by bringing the Mantra business in-house, and can bring real depth to its operations; • Consolidation in the hotel sector looks set to continue – with both operating platforms like Mantra, and asset-rich businesses, in play. This week, Singapore’s CDL has flagged it intends to take the London-listed Millennium and Copthorne business private; • With Mantra’s CEO Bob East taking on the Tourism Australia Chairman role, and Mantra’s long-term head of development Michael Moret-Lalli recently leaving the group, there were some questions being asked about senior management of the group in the short term. To counter that, Mantra’s COO, Tomas Johnsson and its director of operations, Mark Hodge, are deeply experienced and widely rated; • Accor will have looked hard at how Mantra’s brands fit into its portfolio, and which will be retained or repositioned over time. Mantra developed deep domestic recognition for its brands, and challenged the notion that hotel owners must tag an international brand and distribution platform to their Australian hotel; and • Owners of Mantra managed properties will be asking, as have hotel owners globally in the context of operator-consolidation, what is in this for me? On the positive side, Accor’s procurement platform is second to none, delivering real savings for owners. On one transaction we looked at, featuring a large and remote iconic Australian tourism business, on paper, savings delivered by Accor’s purchasing power more than paid for Accor’s management fees. It will be interesting to see how the deal plays out. The sector, and certainly Event Hospitality and Entertainment as the other listed independent Australian operator of scale, will no doubt follow this transaction closely.


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News

MAJOR LEADERSHIP CHANGES FOR IHG IN ASIA PACIFIC including Singapore, to ensure the InterContinental Hotels Group business remains close to hotel (IHG) has announced the owners, guests and colleagues. formation of a new operating IHG says by bringing two region, Europe, Middle East, Asia strong, established regions and Africa (EMEAA), leading together as one, the company to two regional Chief Executive will focus on “further growth Officer (CEO) appointments. through increased agility and Kenneth Macpherson, currently effectiveness”. IHG’s CEO of Greater China, Keith Barr, IHG’s Global Chief will lead the new EMEAA region Executive said: “The success of which will be created by bringing IHG’s Kenneth our current Asia, Middle East and together two of IHG’s current Macpherson Africa and Europe regions has operating divisions: Europe and put us in great shape. Our clear and focused Asia, Middle East and Africa. strategy that remains unchanged, along with the Taking over from Macpherson is Jolyon Bulley, investments we have made, has seen our business who has been promoted to CEO, Greater China. grow significantly in these markets. We are now IHG says these changes will take effect at ready to take the next step, which will continue to the beginning of 2018. drive operational performance and accelerate the After 15 years with IHG Jan Smits, CEO growth of our brands. of Asia, Middle East and Africa, has made the “The Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa decision to pursue other opportunities outside region will be hugely diverse with tremendous of the company. The company says Smits will opportunity. With Kenneth’s experience in our remain with IHG until the end of the year to fastest growing region, sharp focus on operational support the transition process. excellence and strong background in consumer The EMEAA region will be headquartered brands, he has both the experience and passion in the UK and operate through strong subto take our new region forward,” he said. regional divisions based in a number of locations,

GIANNOUKA NAMED CARLSON’S NEW ASIA PACIFIC PRESIDENT Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has appointed Katerina Giannouka as the new President of Asia Pacific. Giannouka will be based in Singapore, at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s Asia Pacific headquarters, and join no later than December 4, 2017. She will report directly to John Kidd, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Carlson Hotels Inc. Giannouka will be a member of Carlson Hotels’ Executive Leadership Committee where she will work in tandem with the global and Asia Pacific leadership teams to drive success and growth for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. In her role, she will be responsible in leading the Asia Pacific executive committee and its corporate offices in Singapore, Shanghai and Delhi. “Asia Pacific is a key growth engine for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group as we expand our presence and develop our successes,” Kidd said. “Katerina’s dynamic and energetic leadership experience, complemented

12 HM The Business of Accommodation

with business intelligence and a tenacious Carlson’s new Asia work ethic, are Pacific President, testament to her Katerina Giannouka accomplishments in Asia Pacific and EMEA. “I am confident that she will propel our Asia Pacific business to greater heights,” he said. Before joining Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Giannouka was the head of development for Asia Pacific and China for Rosewood Hotel Group. Based in Hong Kong, she spearheaded the region’s development activities for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, New World Hotels and Resorts and Pentahotels. Prior to that, she held roles with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and HVS. Giannouka graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a Bachelor’s of Science with First Class Honours in Hotel and Restaurant Management. She is fluent in English and Greek, basic French and elementary Mandarin.

Hilton’s new leader: Alan Watts

Watts departs IHG to lead Hilton in Asia Pacific Hilton has appointed Alan Watts as Executive Vice President and President, Asia Pacific (APAC). Watts joins Hilton after an esteemed twodecade career at IHG, where he most recently acted as Chief Operating Officer for IHG’s Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region. He was responsible for the company’s operations in 280 hotels across six brands and 40 countries and territories, including bringing to life the group’s substantial pipeline and brand introductions. In his new role, effective January 1, 2018, Watts will oversee the operations of more than 200 Hilton properties across the region, as well as the company’s pipeline of more than 375 hotels. Watts will be reporting to Hilton’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Christopher J. Nassetta, and serve as a member of the executive committee. “Hilton’s mission is to be the most hospitable company in the world, everywhere our guests want to be. With more destinations than ever before in Asia Pacific, we are well on our way to achieving that, thanks to Martin’s outstanding leadership,” Nassetta said. “We are incredibly fortunate to now have Alan Watts, who has established himself as an experienced and high-performing leader in the region, to pilot Hilton’s APAC journey from here. I am confident that Alan will use his expertise to deliver superior performance for our hotel owners and investors, and further drive growth.” Watts takes over the role from Martin Rinck, who over the last nine years led Hilton through historical growth in APAC and helped position the Hilton portfolio of brands prominently in the region. Rinck has long planned to relocate to join his family in Canada, and Watts’ transition into the role will allow him to pursue potential other opportunities at Hilton. “I’m excited to be joining Hilton at such a pivotal time for the company in the APAC region,” Watts said. “With market-leading growth and highperforming brands, there is no better time to be at Hilton, and I am incredibly proud to help shape the company’s APAC journey.”


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Key News

Consumers and jobs at risk due to lack of regulation The accommodation industry is supporting calls for the South Australian Government to properly regulate sharing economy providers, including Airbnb. The Accommodation Association of Australia said that unless the SA Government moves to address this issue, the safety of domestic and international visitors is at risk. “In June last year following little or no consultation, the South Australian Government effectively gave the green light to sharing economy platforms to operate with the same level of regulation as residential properties,” said the Accommodation Association of Australia Chief Operating Officer, Laura Younger. “In its pre-election policy agenda, the South Australian Tourism Industry Council is advocating for the development and implementation of regulations for the sharing economy industry - and the Accommodation Association strongly supports this position. “Our industry would like to see both the Government and the Opposition take a much stronger stand on this issue to next year’s

election, in what is a vitally important policy area for tourism. “If the major parties choose to continue with the status quo, jobs in the tourism industry will be lost because the likes of Airbnb employ very few, if any South Australians, unlike traditional accommodation operators, who directly employ cleaners, chefs, maintenance staff, gardeners, accountants, sales and marketing staff, bar staff and front-office managers, among numerous other positions. “What’s more, how much payroll tax does Airbnb contribute to the South Australian Government? “Failing to properly regulate sharing economy accommodation also presents a safety risk because residential properties do not have to meet the same stringent building fire safety standards that traditional accommodation establishments do. “This is particularly important given that in NSW, the Coroner is conducting an investigation into a fatal fire at a property which was thought to have been booked through a sharing economy platform.”

AAOA GOES ‘ON THE ROAD’ The Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) is ‘on the road’ meeting members, putting faces to names and providing forums for discussion of topical issues and operational matters of importance to accommodation operators. To kick off the campaign, a very successful regional forum was held in October in Ballarat, Victoria. Hosted by the Sovereign Park Motor Inn, Ballarat, the early afternoon event attracted over 30 members from the city and surrounding region. AAoA members in Ballarat approached AAoA to present to local operators specifically on non-compliant short-term accommodation. The participating members identified that non-compliant accommodation is of great concern to regional accommodation operators, visitors to the region and the community. Specifically, the local accommodation operators are keen to lobby local government to influence change and be instrumental in finding an effective solution. Michelle King, the Accommodation Association’s National Membership Manager, presented the current position of AAoA highlighting: • Unregulated accommodation issues affecting our industry in Australia and overseas. • Recommendations on how local operators can support AAoA’s advocacy position AAoA provided a briefing paper summarising the Association’s advocacy position on ‘Regulation of Tourism Accommodation’ for members. The document can be referred to and presented when speaking to council and local government representatives and is available on the AAoA website (www. hmaa.com.au/Media/PressReleases July 2017 - Uneven Playing Field in Regional Australia). Members and participants at the Ballarat forum also heard from a panel of experts on the success of the recent AFL football game in the city which

Join the AAoA and attend the next forum near you at www.aaoa.com.au 14 HM The Business of Accommodation

The AAoA Ballarat forum

saw the Western Bulldogs take on Port Adelaide at Mars Stadium. The game attracted over 11,000 in attendance and 97 per cent occupancy and by all accounts, it was a great event. The expert panel which included Brett Goodes (Western Bulldogs), Lisa Price (Events Operations Australia) and Louise Laing (Visit Ballarat) discussed the success of the event and provided insights into future opportunities to attract visitors to the region. The Ballarat Forum provided Association, industry and corporate partner updates and information that proved very beneficial to the operations of our members in this regional area. The Accommodation Association’s next forum, ‘Hotel Market Update and Economic Outlook for Canberra Hotels for 2018’ is aimed at General Managers and will be held in Canberra on Monday 4 December hosted by Doma Hotels.


PRESENTED BY

Victorian State Advisory Board Launched Accommodation industry advocacy has received a major boost, with the Accommodation Association of Australia establishing a Victorian State Advisory Board. The board, which was formally launched on November 20 by the Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Hon John Eren MP, is made up of representatives from Accommodation Association member properties in metropolitan Melbourne and regional parts of Victoria. “The Accommodation Association of Australia's Victorian State Advisory Board is a new initiative which is designed to ensure the interests of our Victorian-based members are more specifically catered for,” said the Association's Chief Executive Officer, Richard Munro. “Victoria has had an outstanding record promoting tourism and major events for almost three decades, no matter which of the major parties has been in government. “The Andrews Government has continued this support and investment, and we look forward to members of the new Victorian State Advisory Board continuing to work closely with Minister Eren and other key tourism industry stakeholders for the benefit of the accommodation industry.” The Chair of the new Victorian State Advisory Board is Adrian Williams, Vice President of Operations - Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, AccorHotels, a member of the Victorian Tourism Industry Council's Accommodation Advisory Panel and the Melbourne Convention Bureau Board.

“Adrian is one of Australia's leading young hotel executives and he has a great understanding of coordinating with other members, tourism industry leaders and, importantly, key government stakeholders,” Munro said. “There is potential for further growth of Victoria's accommodation industry, but for this growth to be realised, it's vital for operators of accommodation businesses to play an active role in policy development processes which directly impact on the industry.” At the launch, the Accommodation Association formally recognised the decision made by the Andrews Government to ensure hotels, motels, serviced apartments and other tourism accommodation businesses were not captured by changes to stamp duty on foreign purchasers. “Given the revenue implications for the Government, it was a difficult decision not to proceed with was a 'virtual hotel investment tax', but by not proceeding, it has helped to help preserve and increase the level of investment in the accommodation industry and the industry is very grateful for this,” Munro said. Members of the Accommodation Association Victorian State Advisory Board: Chair - Adrian Williams, AccorHotels; Julian Clark, Lancemore Group (and President, Accommodation Association of Australia); David Brown, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific; Carol Douglas, TFE Hotels; Doug Flavell, Mantra Group; Iain Gunn, Comfort Inn Capital, Horsham; Anthony LoGiusto, Brady Hotels; Catherine Mapperson, Quest Apartment Hotels; Brett Salter, ALH Group; and Michelle King, Accommodation Association of Australia.

At the advisory board launch: (Top row, left to right): Julian Clark, Lancemore Group; Catherine Mapperson, Quest Apartment Hotels; Brett Salter, ALH Group and Richard Munro, Accommodation Association of Australia. (Front row, left to right): Iain Gunn, Comfort Inn Capital Horsham; Adrian Williams, AccorHotels and Chair of SAB VIC; Carol Douglas, TFE Hotels; The Hon. John Eren, Minister for Tourism and Major Events; Doug Flavell, Mantra Group; David Brown, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and Michelle King, Accommodation Association of Australia.

hotelmanagement.com.au 15


The Choice A CHOICE PROMOTION

FOR YOUR NEXT SHORT BREAK How CHOICE HOTELS ASIA-PAC is leading the way when it comes to promoting short breaks.

C

hoice Hotels Asia-Pac is the largest pure play accommodation franchisor in the region, representing 250 hotels, inns, suites and resorts in metro, regional, rural and coastal locations right across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China. Unlike many of their competitors, the wide range of accommodation offerings across the Econo Lodge, Comfort, Quality and Clarion brands and the Ascend Hotel Collection is where Choice Hotels’ strength lies; delivering clean, comfortable and reliable accommodation to nearly every corner of the two countries, across a range of different price points. It has been a huge year for Choice Hotels, who have continued to drive strong corporate business to all of their hotels, whilst also diversifying their offering by creating a niche in the domestic leisure segment.

SHORT BREAK FOCUS

For Choice Hotels, the focus has and will be concentrated on inspiring Aussies and Kiwis to take more short breaks, in order to experience a region that they have never visited before to relax and recharge the batteries. This amplified focus didn’t happen overnight, and 16 HM The Business of Accommodation

from the company’s perspective, required in-depth thinking and analysis that uncovered insights which have been the backbone behind this renewed direction. Choice Hotels discovered that of the hundreds of millions of nights people had away from their homes last year, almost three quarters were for trips of 1-3 nights. Combine this with recent Nielsen data that shows our populations still have one of the highest rates of annual leave accrual in the developed world and a real opportunity presented itself for the company. To understand how this opportunity could be leveraged, Choice also undertook an independent, large scale, qualitative and quantitative research project. The results showed that about two thirds of Australians (67 per cent) and New Zealanders (65 per cent) are currently feeling stressed and that we are in fact in dire need of regular breaks from our daily grind. The aptly named ‘Need a Break’ research report provided key insights into the motivations and barriers of Aussie and Kiwi travel habits and was the core pillar of this new marketing direction. From these findings, Choice saw an immediate opportunity in the marketplace. Short break getaways are more affordable and therefore more achievable for households of all incomes and demographic profiles. Choice wanted to ensure that they were providing solutions to alleviate stress for absolutely everyone. Short breaks are also far easier to plan than longer holidays and this was an important consideration when offering solutions to the time poor, stressed out population. In response, Choice have developed a comprehensive strategy and a range of marketing initiatives to ensure taking a short break is easy and accessible. At the heart of this is their innovative online platform; NeedaBreak.com.


Cover Story

THE STRATEGY BEHIND THE SITE

The NeedaBreak.com platform aims to inspire people to take a short break away from the stresses of work and daily life. Designed as a content hub, the website also includes destination reviews and a unique itinerary planner, aimed at helping travellers discover regions where they can get away for a long weekend or mid-week break with their families, partners or even on their own. The platform has also incorporated a quick and easy booking facility to all 250 Choice Hotels properties across Australia and New Zealand. This new strategic platform has significantly enhanced Choice’s ability to drive direct bookings through their proprietary platforms. It also gives the company an authoritative voice in the short break travel market.

ADVERTISING APPROACH

To drive awareness of this great new platform, Choice have invested heavily in a range of advertising mediums that have been in market since June. This has included the branding and wrapping of a Jetstar plane and the creation of an innovative television commercial, which has aired regularly across the Nine network in capital cities and on Prime, WIN and Southern Cross in regional markets nationally. Choice have also partnered with the Today breakfast show in Australia and TVNZ1 breakfast show in New Zealand to incorporate inshow sponsorships, activations and competitions to further leverage their message. Other advertising support for this campaign has and will include large-format locationspecific outdoor advertising, targeted radio sponsorships within the Hamish & Andy drive show, innovative programmatic digital advertising, a new social direction and PR approach. Whilst the media is one component of the new direction, the execution has also been just as important for Choice. Consequently, the brand’s creative approach and position has also been refreshed and relaunched. For example, the television commercial has been very cleverly created, showcasing a stressed out office descending into chaos after a seemingly innocent and relatively innocuous source of irritation sets off a chain reaction of hilarious events, ultimately ending with a photocopier in flames being thrown out of a building. This fresh approach has been the catalyst behind some exceptional results.

RESULTS TO DATE

The results really do speak for themselves, with Choice garnering some of the best direct online results through their proprietary sites ever. The NeedaBreak.com platform and all of the supporting advertising has certainly been the biggest driver behind this, with attribution reporting highlighting the influence of the new strategy on direct bookings. As these bookings have increased, Choice has also seen the overall cost of distribution across their properties decrease, as the reliance on OTAs reduces. This ultimately ensures Choice franchisees become more profitable. Couple this with a significant lift in brand awareness for the ChoiceHotels.com.au, ChoiceHotels.co.nz and NeedaBreak.com platforms, a consistent average RevPAR increase of almost 4% across all hotels in 2017 and over 40,000 new members joining the Choice Privileges loyalty program this year and you would certainly have to say this has been a highly successful venture. With such a dynamic offering now available to franchisees, Choice have also been able to grow their portfolio. In just the last few months alone, new properties have been added

in high demand areas such as Sydney’s inner west, the growing coastal market of Newcastle, Darwin, Brisbane, and several other regional locations.

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR 2018?

Choice is gearing up for a bumper 2018. With all of the new exposure the company now has, it is expected many new properties will join the network across all of their brands. We will also wait and see where the NeedaBreak.com platform will go, with the whispers being that there are some very exciting initiatives about to launch. With higher demand also comes the need to better yield rates and therefore 2018 will see the company continue to roll out their Revenue Management service to properties. A pilot in 2017 drove some phenomenal results and it is expected that this service will be taken up by a large portion of the portfolio. The Choice Privileges loyalty program will also continue to be enhanced with new innovations and member benefits launching in the new year. This will ensure Choice Privileges remains one of the best accommodation loyalty programs in the market. Although the recent enhancements have been targeted towards the leisure guest, there have been many flow on effects to increase direct corporate bookings, giving Choice the ability to tap into the ‘bleisure’ market. In 2018, the Choice sales team will continue to engage and have strong relationships with key consortia agencies and Asia-Pac’s largest corporate companies, while incorporating a renewed focus on working with the very important SME market. So if you’re like the two out of three Aussies that need a break, head over to NeedaBreak.com to check out what all the fuss is about. n If you would like any information on joining the Choice Hotels network, please contact

Sarah McCully

General Manager, Development P +61 409 735 031 JoinChoiceHotels.com.au

hotelmanagement.com.au 17


Development

Rydges to operate new Gold Coast Airport hotel The Gold Coast Airport has appointed Rydges to operate a new AUD$50 million hotel set to open in 2019. The 4-star hotel will include 192 rooms and suites over seven storeys with sweeping views over Kirra Beach and across the runway to the hinterland. Alongside a rooftop bar and viewing deck, the hotel will boast a restaurant, resort-style swimming pool, and substantial function, conference and meeting facilities. It will be located close to the airport’s major terminal expansion project, with construction of both projects expected to start next year. The hotel will be developed and managed by a newly created entity, Gold Coast Airport Hotel Pty Ltd, wholly owned by Trepang Services Pty Ltd which is led by experienced hotel developer and operator, John Robinson AO. Gold Coast Airport CEO, Chris Mills, said the hotel would enhance the appeal of the growing airport precinct and add a new level of convenience for passengers. “This is a game changer not just for the airport, but for the southern Gold Coast,” he said. “The hotel is an important part of the airport’s broader property strategy and we expect it will stimulate interest in a number of other exciting projects being considered for the precinct.”

An artist’s impression of the Rydges Gold Coast Airport hotel

Gold Coast Airport Hotel Managing Director, John Robinson, said he was excited about the development and has complete confidence in its success based on his previous experience. “I always put my money where my mouth is and am completely comfortable investing $50 million in this project. I have extensive experience in the development and operation of hotels and have been in the industry for the best part of 40 years. I have also developed and operated airport hotels, I have gained a strong sense of what people require in terms of accommodation when travelling, whether it be business or leisure,” he said. “I have a longstanding relationship with Rydges Hotels and Resorts and have appointed them as our brand.” Event Hospitality and Entertainment Director of Hotels and Resorts Operations, Norman Arundel, said the company was pleased to be a part of the key development which will continue the growth of the Gold Coast region.

MARRIOTT SIGNS A NEW-BUILD WESTIN HOTEL IN DARWIN Marriott International has signed an agreement with Landbridge Hotel Operations Pty Ltd to open The Westin Darwin, marking the company’s expansion into Australia’s Northern Territory. The Westin Darwin joins Marriott’s growing presence in the Pacific, where it’s on track to open 50 hotels by 2020, including The Westin Brisbane, The Westin Perth and The Westin Coolum Resort and Spa, which are all under planning or development. “Darwin has always been a fascinating place to visit and the natural gateway for visitors to the Northern Territory,” said Richard Crawford, Senior Director Development, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, Marriott International. “In the last few years, as tourism increases, the city has developed into a vibrant and cosmopolitan hub and The Westin Darwin is sure to set a new benchmark for hospitality in the market.” The eight storey hotel, scheduled to open in 2020 and constructed as part of a large-scale

18 HM The Business of Accommodation

mixed-use development including vibrant restaurants and stylish residences, boasts 240 guest rooms, including 14 spacious suites, with sweeping water and city views, as well as the world-renowned Heavenly Bed and invigorating Heavenly Bath experience. The hotel will also offer three dining venues, including an all-day dining restaurant, a specialty restaurant and a bar, where guests can sample a variety of culinary options, including the Westin brand’s healthier-choice SuperFoodsRx menus. Guests will enjoy the hotel’s extensive leisure facilities, including the Westin Workout fitness studio featuring the finest exercise equipment from world-class brands in open, airy and welldesigned spaces; a resort-style swimming pool; and The Heavenly Spa by Westin. The hotel will appeal to business travellers as well, featuring more than 1,100 square metres of meeting and event space, as well as an executive lounge. “We are delighted to partner with Landbridge

“We’re excited to unveil this amazing airport hotel which will provide travellers with a convenient hotel option within the airport precinct,” he said. “We pride ourselves as being one of the leading airport hotel operators in Australia and New Zealand, and with Rydges Wellington Airport and Atura Adelaide Airport currently under development, Rydges Gold Coast Airport further strengthens our hotel portfolio.” Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and Gold Coast MP, Steven Ciobo, welcomed the new airport hotel. “The Gold Coast had almost five million domestic and international overnight visitors, injecting over AUD$4.3 billion into our local economy last year, so this new investment is great news for the Gold Coast,” he said. “Commencing construction after the Commonwealth Games, the hotel will help facilitate better access for domestic and international visitors wanting to explore the Gold Coast region.” An artist’s impression of The Westin Darwin

Group to operate The Westin Darwin,” said Sean Hunt, Area Vice President Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, Marriott International. “Westin’s powerful wellness proposition resonates with guests around the world and continues to fuel the brand’s growth momentum: now with more than 200 hotels globally. “In Australia, the brand is enjoying outstanding growth, with a footprint in each of the country’s key cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – and plans to debut Australia’s first Westin resort, in Coolum on the Sunshine Coast,” he said. The Westin Darwin will be prominently located in the Darwin Waterfront Precinct, a 15-minute drive from Darwin International Airport.


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Development

Holiday Inn Express debuts in Adelaide

Now open: Holiday Inn Express Adelaide City Centre

IHG’s fastest growing hotel brand has debuted in South Australia following the opening of its newest hotel, Holiday Inn Express Adelaide City Centre. The nine-level, 245 room hotel located at the intersection of Hindley Street and Blyth Street laneway in Adelaide’s CBD capitalises on Adelaide’s renewed focus on the city’s north west quarter. It is the third Holiday Inn Express to be opened in Australia by Pro-invest Group following the launch of their Sydney and Brisbane properties. Pro-invest Group Chief Executive, Ronald Barrott, said the company was pleased to add to the vibrancy that continues to emerge in Adelaide. “Our hotel offering is ideal for those business or leisure travellers looking for smart hotel solutions in the heart of the CBD. It’s also well timed, with the opening of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Adelaide Convention Centre’s East Building, in addition to the pending Riverbank development, Adelaide Casino expansion and the current laneways project,” he said. “There is so much to look forward to in Adelaide and we’re proud to be a part of it, investing in what is already a relatively strong tourism industry.” The hotel was designed by Joseph Pang and features well-appointed rooms in addition to shared spaces such as The Great Room, a gym and a meeting room. A striking feature of the new hotel is an impressive mural spanning two levels by local street artist Azzurro, which is connected by a grand timber and steel staircase leading to The Great Room, featuring a contemporary, urban-style fit out with timber, pops of colour and quality furnishings.

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Hilton’s Curio Collection set for Australian debut Curio Collection by Hilton is set to add its first hotel in Sydney through a management agreement with M&L Hospitality. Hilton will manage the 182-room, new-build West Hotel Sydney, Curio Collection by Hilton, which is set to open this month (December 2017) at 65 Sussex Street. One of Hilton’s 14 brands, Curio Collection by Hilton is a global, upper upscale collection of distinctive hotels and resorts that offer guests one-of-akind experiences, each unique to the destination they call home. “M&L Hospitality is delighted to be expanding its relationship with Hilton with the signing of West Hotel, as part of Curio Collection by Hilton,” said M&L Hospitality CEO, Neil Maxwell. “The agreement builds on our strong existing partnerships with Hilton at properties in Melbourne, Auckland, Christchurch and Prague. We are eager to introduce this unique Hilton brand into Australia with the launch of West Hotel.” Designed by Australian Architecture firm, Fitzpatrick and Partners, with interiors by Woods Bagot, West Hotel will have its own distinct character appealing to the curious traveller seeking an authentic Sydney experience. “As the first Curio Collection hotel in Australia, the signing of West Hotel Sydney is an exciting achievement for us,” said Curio Collection by Hilton Global Head, Mark Nogal.

“Sydney has an eclectic and diverse mix of people, cultures and experiences – all of which are reflected in this property.” The newly built West Hotel Sydney features 182 stylish guest rooms, including four spacious suites, a restaurant and bar, a fully equipped gym and a private meeting/dining room. The property will attribute modern classic design elements. Deep tones and marble accents with a strong botanical theme run throughout – from the openair central garden atrium and the white waratah flower motif in the lobby to the floral-inspired carpet design in the guest rooms. The hotel will also work with a local Sydney florist to create striking, seasonal arrangements and installations. “The new West Hotel Sydney is a one-of-a-kind addition to our Australia portfolio. We are extremely pleased to once again work with M&L Hospitality on this remarkable new hotel project,” said Hilton’s Senior Vice President, Development – Asia and Australasia, Guy Phillips. “We look forward to welcoming guests to experience all of the hallmarks of a Curio Collection by Hilton property.” The West Hotel Sydney joins 16 hotels open and under development in Australia, including one, which is already managed on behalf of M&L Hospitality.

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hotelmanagement.com.au 21


Development

MANTRA GROUP TO MANAGE NEW ‘SILO’ HOTEL IN LAUNCESTON Mantra Group is set to manage Launceston’s 108-room Silo Hotel when it opens in April 2018. Carrying the Group’s popular Peppers brand, Peppers Silo Hotel is an inspiring AUD$25 million redevelopment of the Kings Wharf grain silos in Launceston, Tasmania. The ten-storey hotel will have 108 rooms, including 52 in the barrels of the former silo, and overlooks the nearby tourist drawcards of Seaport, Royal Park, the Tamar River Basin and Cataract Gorge. Four large apartments will occupy the top floor, while a restaurant, cocktail bar and large meeting room will be located on the first floor. Peppers Silo Hotel is the third management agreement signed between Mantra Group and developer Stewart, Morris and MacLagen Group, joining Peppers Seaport Hotel, Launceston and Peppers York Cove, Tamar Valley. Mantra Group Chief Executive Officer, Bob East, said the Group is thrilled to expand its presence in another key Australian tourist destination with established demand drivers. “The consistently high-performing hotel market in Launceston, combined with the ideal location of Peppers Silo Hotel and its unique market drivers, presented us with an exceptional opportunity to add to our existing portfolio of two hotels in the city,” he said. “This acquisition comes at an opportune time in the Tasmania tourism market, with the state currently enjoying record domestic and international visitation. “And, based on supply and demand forecasts, this strong performance is set to continue with further uplift projected. “We’re excited to again partner with Stewart, Morris and MacLagen Group on this property and believe it has great potential to service a number of markets,” East said. Peppers Silo Hotel will be the first hotel development to open in Launceston since Mantra Charles Hotel was developed in 2010. “The addition of this new hotel will see Mantra Group grow its presence within the Launceston market to 268 rooms under management,” East said. Developer Errol Stewart said Launceston is in need of new tourism products and has a shortage of hotel rooms in summer. “We’re confident that this unique property will operate with great success and provide travellers with high quality accommodation in Tasmania’s North East,” he said. “With a broad target market of intrastate and interstate tourists, corporates and locals, we felt it was important to represent the original silos to ensure the history of the site was not lost. “This concept also translates to the interior design of the hotel, where historic photography and some key pieces from the original silos will be displayed throughout the building. “The project also provides a major boost to the local economy, creating more than 60 direct and hundreds of indirect jobs during the construction stage and, once operational, numerous long-term hospitality jobs,” Stewart said.

Artist’s impressions of Peppers Silo Hotel

Prince to launch new brands following StayWell acquisition Japan’s Prince Hotels completed its acquisition of StayWell in October and in the process revealed it will launch two new brands called ‘Policy’ and ‘Leisure Inn Plus’. The new company has a global network of 35 hotels (20 existing hotels and 15 hotels currently under development) and the new brands will feature alongside existing brands Park Regis, Leisure Inn and Prince Hotels. Prince says it is the intention to develop hotels in Southeast Asia, Oceania, other parts of Asia, the Middle East and Europe and grow the earnings of its overseas hotel business going forward.

22 HM The Business of Accommodation

Prince says Policy is a “lifestyle brand built on the principle of personalised experiences for the maturing millennial”. “Socially connected and strong brand advocates, guests will discover fresh experiences reflecting the local area, become socially connected with front of house spaces and adapt to an unexpected culture Policy delivers,” the company says. Prince says Leisure Inn Plus is a “uniquely designed brand offering a bang for buck non-traditional hotel experience for the energetic millennial traveller”. “Abstract room styling is highlighted by feature furnishings, pops of colour and integrated technology millennials desire,” the company says.


Development

HOBART’S NEW LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL TO BE NAMED THE TASMAN Marriott International has revealed the name of its new Luxury Collection property being constructed in Hobart will be called The Tasman, which is on track to open in late-2018. The Tasman, which marks Marriott International’s debut in Tasmania, will reside in an assortment of repurposed heritage buildings and will form a prominent position in Parliament Square, a new designled, urban development set to revitalise Hobart’s city centre. Premier of Tasmania, Will Hodgman, and Marriott International Area Vice President, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, Sean Hunt revealed the name to guests at a special event on site in Parliament Square in early November where guests were shown around the hotel’s mock-up room, which showcases the property’s elegant design by Sydney-based firm, JPDC. “Bringing the Luxury Collection to Australia is a significant milestone for Marriott International, where we’re on track to open 50 hotels by 2020,” Hunt said. “With its stunning natural beauty and growing cultural and foodie scene, Hobart is an extremely desirable destination for both national and international guests, and this hotel will be the place for luxury travellers to stay when visiting Tasmania. “With construction on track, we look forward to welcoming guests for the opening in 2018,” he said. Owned by Trawalla Group Parliament Square Hotel Operator Pty Ltd, The Tasman will offer guests 128 luxurious rooms and suites, all with Marriott’s Sean Hunt (left) and carefully restored features and considered Georgian Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman (right) unveil The Tasman and Art-Deco design elements throughout.

Opening in early 2018: Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane

Brisbane’s new Adina to open in February 2018 TFE Hotels has revealed the new Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane is on track to open in February 2018. Located in a restored heritage building at 171 George Street, it will feature 220 apartments and a signature restaurant and bar in the vast ground floor lobby space that celebrates its Art Deco origins. Typical of the brand, the hotel will provide guests with the comforts of home, offering spacious apartments with their own kitchen, laundry and living room, or studios with kitchenettes, all with full hotel services including 24-hour reception and a fitness centre with excellent gym equipment and a pool. TFE Hotels CEO, Rachel Argaman, said the hotel was strategically placed, given that Brisbane has AUD$6 billion worth of tourism projects in the pipeline and international and domestic visitors are estimated to grow over the next decade to 9.3 million, bringing an economic contribution of AUD$7.9 billion. “The hotel is well-placed to offer guests an enticing blend of history, grandeur, great dining and convenient living close to some of the city’s biggest attractions, as Brisbane continues to rapidly expand and develop,” she said. “Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane will be an attraction in its own right as the city’s most exciting new hotel with a history. The moment people walk into the foyer, they will fall for its charm and from there, they will have so many moments to explore its history, right into the heart of the city.” Toga Group is managing a careful and sensitive renovation with TKD Architects, who have preserved the Art Deco style of the sandstone clad building, which was initially built to accommodate the Queensland Government Savings Bank in 1922. hotelmanagement.com.au 23


HM Q&A

Keith Barr’s GLOBAL AMBITIONS It’s been a busy few months for InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) new CEO, KEITH BARR. Since stepping into the role on July 1, he has launched a new brand, shifted the Asia-Pacific leadership responsibilities to Europe and announced the arrival of popular boutique brand Kimpton into this part of the world. During the recent 2017 Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP), the former head of IHG for Australasia sat down exclusively with JAMES WILKINSON to talk about the changes and much more.

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HM Q&A Keith, there it’s an exciting time for both you and the company at present. As you announced at HICAP, one of the brands you love the most is making a bit of a challenge in Asia at the moment isn’t it?

W

e were thrilled to buy Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants and then take it internationally. Of course we took it to Europe with the launch in Amsterdam and at HICAP we announced bringing it to Asia Pacific with three amazing hotels. We are opening up a resort in Bali, a resort in Sanya and a fantastic hotel in Shanghai as well too, so three incredible Kimptons which will help shape the brand across Asia Pacific.

It’s an exciting brand for IHG because, it’s very strong restaurant brand alongside designer hotels with fantastic rooms. These hotels need to have fantastic food and beverage, don’t they? Yeah. You have an incredible design-led brand, so every hotel every guest room is unique and special based upon the location and the inspiration. But it’s also underpinned by an incredible restaurant and bar operation. So there’s a real buzz and vibe to them, which makes them really exciting places to go.

You’re also seeing great brand growth across Asia Pacific generally too aren’t you? And you’ve also made some major leadership changes. We’re seeing great growth across Asia Pacific – and as an example we’re signing hotels in Vietnam with a new InterContinental – and we’re seeing growth across our entire brand portfolio and we are very focused right now in making sure internationally we’re set up for success and growing in all the key markets. And so we’re thinking about how we structure the company. It’s how do you win in Australia and New Zealand? How do you win in Japan? How do you win in India and Southern Asia and the Middle East and so forth, and then design an organization that’s really fit for purpose to do that.

So this is forgetting about some of the old school hotel chain leadership rules and adapting to the market then? Yeah and I want to be a bit contrarian. My two big experiences that shaped my views on this was when I went to Australia and ran that business and understood how do you really win in a market and owning end to end in terms of owner relationships, performance, government relationships and so forth. And then when I went to China and making that a standalone business and understanding how to win in that market. Regions are artificial constructs for companies and the real thing is ‘how do you win each market and understand what is special and unique about it?’ How do you resource it appropriately and make sure that your go-to market structure is appropriate? So, I’m really excited about the changes we’re making.

Many of your newer brands are also getting great traction in the market here, such as Indigo and Even. So, you’re really looking at opportunities in different segments in the right markets aren’t you? The core brands are doing exceptionally well. With InterContinental, we now have 40 in China. We have

nearly 100-plus in AMEA [Asia, Middle East and Africa] and China as well too. So, we’re seeing the core brands continue to grow. We are also filling out white space with our newer brands too. We launched Hotel Indigo in 2010 in Shanghai and that produced phenomenal results. Now so we’ve got six open and 12 in the pipeline in China and another 20-plus in the pipeline across Asia. So you’re seeing real growth there. We’ve now announced Even hotels in Australia and New Zealand and then Even hotels going to China with four great hotels which we just announced.

How big is Asia Pacific getting for IHG? Obviously the Americas are huge for IHG, but how fast is Asia Pacific catching-up to the Americas?

In terms of scale, the US is a massive business overall, which it is for all of the international hotel companies. But Asia continues to grow and actually Asia Pacific – both China and the rest of Asia – is the fastest growing region for us internationally and as a company too. So, that’s a great momentum to have overall. We’re seeing its importance continue to grow as you’re seeing increasing wealth, growing middle classes, more inter-regional travel and international travel too. So, it’s great to see our brand portfolio arrive and develop in this part of the world.

“Regions are artificial constructs for companies and the real thing is ‘how do you win each market and understand what is special and unique about it?” KEITH BARR, CEO, InterContinental Hotels Group

On the rewards side of things, are you seeing a more loyal customer base in the rest of the world like you have in the United States? Definitely. All of our brands are underpinned by IHG Rewards Club, which is critical for our success. We have 100 million members around the world and we have the largest program in the industry. So that’s fundamentally kind of the thing that really ties everyone together across the brand portfolio. It’s really strong in the developed markets. In the US, loyalty is pivotal. We are seeing that continue to grow as brand portfolios get bigger and as distribution gets bigger across Asia Pacific and China in general. So, it’s increasingly important and we are seeing it go from strength to strength.

Technology is at the forefront of what you’re doing, not just for travellers but also back-end systems too.

I think what makes the big hotel companies successful today and the investments we’re making in technology are more significant today than ever before. We’re launching a new central reservation platform that is actually in pilot phase right now and that will launch completely in 2018. That will transform the way that we do reservations in inventory and rate management as a company and it will be a leader in the industry. Big companies can afford to do those things, while small companies can’t. And the way you invest in mobile, the way you invest in digital and so forth. So, technology is fundamental to your future success and how you engage with customers and create value for owners.

The MICE segment is something incredibly important to your company. How is MICE going for IHG at present and we seeing that segment bounce back?

MICE is fundamental in certain hotel brands in certain markets overall. We’re seeing real strength in that and you’re seeing it in some of the international destinations and seeing businesses continue to grow and accelerate. I’m really surprised the strength of MICE in greater China. You’re seeing our big box hotels with meeting space consistently full now to levels I didn’t believe would be possible and full from both international, but from domestic demand as well.

Your newest brand Avid was launched into the market with a lot of fanfare. Is this just going to be a brand for the Americas?

It’s going to be a great brand for the Americas. I’ve been shocked at the level of interest. Hundreds of owners are interested in signing up with it, so we’ll see that take off the scale pretty quickly. Then we have to look at how we take it internationally. It has huge potential to go into markets where we can build it to scale. So we have to get the first one open in the U.S. and then figure out how to take it abroad. n hotelmanagement.com.au 25


General Manager

SYDNEY’S NEW LUXURY

Sofitel

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, the city’s newest internationally-branded 5-star property since the 2000 Olympic Games, was officially opened in early October, adding 590 guestrooms and 35 suites to AccorHotels’ Australian network. JAMES WILKINSON sat down with Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour General Manager, GREG BRADY, to talk about the highlights of the property, the massive charity drive to mark the opening and much more.

Greg, congratulations on the opening of the new Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. What are the highlights of the property?

T

he hotel is beautifully designed and stands proudly now as the latest addition to the exciting Darling Harbour precinct. As the first new build, 5-star international hotel in Sydney since 1999, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is also a much-needed addition to the city’s luxury hotel inventory and, as a result, we have been at very high occupancy since October 6, our first day of opening. We are receiving great feedback on the hotel’s beautiful guestrooms and their views of the city from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Some of the other highlights for guests are our stylish Club Millesime lounge on level 35, which is available to our club floor guests, the beautiful infinity pool on level four and the Champagne Bar, the largest hotel Champagne bar in Sydney and home to the only jeroboam of Louis Roederer Cristal in Australia.

The entire hotel was opened to a number of charities before the official opening. Tell us how that came about and how successful that was.

Our owner, Dr Jerry Schwartz, and Simon McGrath, COO of AccorHotels Pacific were committed to giving back to Sydney as the new home for our beautiful hotel. As such, all our rooms for one night on October 3 prior to the official opening, were donated to 33 charities who could raffle or auction these as a fundraiser. Over AUD$500,000 was raised as a result which was an outstanding result.

The hotel offers Butler Service, something unique to the property. Tell us about that.

Dedicated butler service is available to guests on our club floors if they desire it. It includes: personalised check in and check out in the Club Lounge – Club Millesime; escorting the guest to their rooms and assistance with unpacking their luggage if desired; a shoe shine service; assistance with guests’ travel itineraries and web check in; and assistance with concierge services such as restaurant and transfer bookings.

F&B is a major focus for the property… what are your standout outlets and how are you ensuring a top-notch offering on a consistent basis so soon after opening?

In addition to our Club Millesime Lounge and in room dining, we have three sophisticated bars and our stylish signature restaurant Atelier by Sofitel. Our lobby bar, Esprit Noir offers an elegant space to relax and enjoy your favourite whisky or a glass of wine. Channelling the relaxed sophistication of a Mediterranean beach meets the urban energy of Sydney, Le Rivage Pool Bar on the fourth floor we think will become one of the city’s highly sought-after outdoor spaces. The Champagne Bar is perfect for a pre-or postdinner drink. It offers 20 different types of Champagne, from the smaller Champagne houses like CanardDuchene and Pol Roger to the houses of Louis Roederer and Pommery. There is also a special Louis Roederer Champagne from the 2009 vintage in collaboration with artist Philippe Starck, representing the mix of innovation and French heritage. The menus at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will change seasonally and are composed with the very best local seasonal produce. The philosophy is to retain the natural aroma 26 HM The Business of Accommodation


General Manager

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s luxuriously-appointed rooms (and right)

“As the first new build, 5-star international hotel in Sydney since 1999, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is a much-needed addition to the city’s luxury hotel inventory and, as a result we have been at very high occupancy since October 6, our first day of opening.” Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour General Manager, Greg Brady

GREG BRADY, General Manager, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour

Club Millesime

and taste of the finest ingredients available and delicately blend them with the culinary techniques that highlight the origin of our heritage and the authenticity of our location. The menu items will be creative, delicious, innovative and influenced by guests, ambassadors and the Sofitel brand.

The property is located next to the new ICC Sydney. What kind of impact is the convention, conference and events market having on business at the hotel? This is a very important part of our business and we look forward to working closely with ICC to accommodate their guests and support the development of this critical growth strategy for driving Sydney’s economy. We also have our own meeting spaces on level one of the hotel which is a dedicated floor including nine flexible meeting rooms and a 450-person ballroom.

How is business generally at present and what are your expectations for the remainder of the year and 2018? Business has been amazing and we have already experienced incredible occupancy rates and look forward to those continuing as more people discover us.

What are some of the key things that you’re doing to both keep guests returning and attracting new guests?

Attracting new guests to our beautiful hotel is not hard – as soon as people hear about us they are curious to come and take a look at what’s on offer at the newest 5-star hotel in Sydney since the Olympics. Keeping people coming back is where hotels need to sharpen their skills and that is by providing outstanding service, fabulous food and wines and a wonderful guest experience that not only meets but exceeds their expectations.

Tell us the path you’ve taken to your role and what are some tips you have for GMs of the future?

Dr Jerry Schwartz and Simon McGrath with charity CEOs

I joined the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour with more than 27 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including nine years as General Manager of the 517-room Mercure Hotel Sydney, one of Accor Hotels’ key properties. Prior to this, I held a variety of General Manager and other key hotel positions with leading accommodation groups. My tip is never to forget that you are in the guest service business providing ultimate hospitality to everyone staying in one of your rooms, enjoying a drink in one of your bars or eating in your restaurant. I have seen people forget this along the way, hide in their office and look at spreadsheets instead of being out and about walking the floor and making sure we are delivering at the very highest levels to our guests. n hotelmanagement.com.au 27


Dallen

A DALLEN PROMOTION

DAZZLES AT DARLING HARBOUR

Staff at the luxurious new SOFITEL SYDNEY DARLING HARBOUR are decked out in some of the most stylish uniforms ever seen, thanks to Australian design firm DALLEN.

28 HM The Business of Accommodation


Style

T

he French ‘Art de Vivre’ translates to the ‘art of living’. But as is often the case with translations, the English definition doesn’t quite do justice. Far beyond the broad brush strokes of French clichés, the dazzle can be found in the details at Sydney’s newest luxury hotel, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. Such a hotel commands a uniform that wears its ‘Art de Vivre’ on its sleeve. When it came time for AccorHotels to launch Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, local design firm Dallen were briefed to create a uniform that would be the perfect fit for the Darling Harbour property’s next-level luxury. “Working closely with the Luxury Brand team at AccorHotels, we examined every fine detail to ensure that the uniform would pass close scrutiny by Sofitel’s discerning clientele,” says Dallen Creative Director, Paul Fitzpatrick. Referencing classic French tailoring, the collection signals a departure from the ordinary hotel uniform.

Feminine pleated skirts and beaded dresses bring a fashion edge, channelling just a touch of Chanel. “We want the staff to love what they are wearing,” Fitzpatrick goes on to explain. Indeed, the attention to detail is enough to make the wearer stand a little taller. Many of the materials were custom made for the project, including fabrics woven in France down to custom-made buttons. Fitzpatrick is quick to qualify, “We can make a beautiful uniform but at the end of the day it’s the professionalism of the staff and pride of the Sofitel brand that will give it that extra polish.” Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour General Manager, Greg Brady, declares the garments “a complete success”. “Our Ambassadors feel fantastic wearing their elegant new uniforms. The Front Office team in particular love the fit and the femininity of the women’s uniform design makes them feel incredibly proud and stylish,” he said. While the Sofitel brand has always represented a luxury experience, the opening of Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour sees the first change of uniform for Sofitel in several years. It is set to be rolled out over the other Australian and New Zealand properties within the group over the next 12 months. n

“We can make a beautiful uniform but at the end of the day it’s the professionalism of the staff and pride of the Sofitel brand that will give it that extra polish.” PAUL FITZPATRICK, Creative Director, Dallen

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour in their new Dallen uniforms

hotelmanagement.com.au 29


Investment

Doma’s rise

FROM CAPITAL BEGINNINGS Canberra-based Doma Group has risen from a residential developer to one of Australia’s fastest growing hotel groups. JAMES WILKINSON sits down with Doma Group Managing Director, JURE DOMAZET, to talk humble beginnings, growth and more. Jure, tell us about how Doma Group was started and the path of the company up until now.

D

oma Group is a family business that began in Canberra in 1974 as a residential developer. It made its first hotel acquisition in the mid-80s, and then entered the serviced apartment market in the early 90s. As the Group has grown it has taken on more complex and large developments and owns a significant property portfolio including all of the hotels it operates. We have more recently turned our attention to investments and developments outside of the ACT, particularly in Sydney and Newcastle. We are across all property sectors including residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and car parking and have a great record of developing and delivering significant and complex projects. We recently made the decision to place a strong focus on hotel expansion, whereas we were previously focused more on offices, residential and car parking.

Your ‘Little National’ hotel concept has been an absolute hit. How did the concept come about and where are you taking the brand going forward?

As we started travelling more for work we noticed how many of the hotels over-provided the things that we didn’t want and under-provided the things that we needed. We noticed a trend in small hotel rooms emerging in Europe but weren’t comfortable with the associated perceived need to have some kind of edgy design in these hotels. Rather, we wanted our hotel to feel like a classic 5-star hotel, stripped of all the things we didn’t need but excelling at all of the things that we really want. Chief among these is that the hotel is in an absolutely prime location, within walking distance of where you want to be and easy for a traveller to find and to get to. We never envisaged that our guests would be interested in hanging out in their room or in our public spaces, although many do as the spaces feel very special. Rather, they have visited our cities because they are busy in those cities and won’t actually be spending much time at the hotel. When they are at the hotel it should feel like a sanctuary and be luxurious and effortless. We ensure that everything that the guest touches and interacts with directly is equal to or better than a five-star hotel. Our bed with its picture window and high quality linen is amazing and a favourite with our guests - we are in the business of selling a restful night. Total block-out blinds, terrific shower, easy technology and simple guest interfaces combine with professional but friendly staff to make the stay easy. We are not interested in getting every last dollar out of our guests. We would prefer they stay in our room and feel that they get good value, allowing them to spend more in the city that they are in. We expect that the local experience in food and beverage will be better than anything we can provide, so would prefer to promote them rather than try to outdo them. Note that we do not necessarily attract the budget traveller. Our guests have the same daily spend as a 5-star guest, they just allocate their budget differently, say by choosing to buy a better bottle of wine at dinner. We have secured sites for Little National Hotels in the Sydney CBD and Newcastle, with construction of both commencing in 2018. We are looking for more sites now in Sydney and Melbourne as well as other cities and are considering international opportunities.

Would you look at taking any of your other brands or develop new hotels in other cities alongside the Little National brand?

Little National Hotel is our focus, but whenever we break into a new market we will look for opportunities to expand the Burbury Hotel and Apartments. This is our very successful 4.5star hotel at 1 Burbury Close in Barton, and is the sister property to the 5-star Hotel Realm. 30 HM The Business of Accommodation

Doma Group is a very successful owner-operator business. Did you look at partnering with major hotel groups in the past and why are you not branding with the big groups?

We have looked at partnering and have had some pretty compelling proposals put to us, noting that there are many more models than just a straight management agreement. Access to a larger distribution channel, bigbrand experience and knowledge as well as purchasing power is certainly compelling. However, we have never had a proposal that delivers us a better return to what we can deliver ourselves and the loss of control is not attractive if results are not being delivered. The growth in strength in online distribution certainly provides more opportunities for us, but we still need to ensure that we have strong recognition in each of the markets that we are in. This is relatively easy to do in Canberra due to our very strong location and reputation. Even though it is only in one location, Little National Hotel already has strong brand recognition and we feel that our guests will seek us out in each city we go into.

You have a number of successful hotels in Canberra in the portfolio. Why the big growth in the Australian capital? Hotel Realm was opened in 2007 on a large site that we purchased in 2003. A 5-star hotel in this location was certainly trailblazing at the time even though it seems

Buvette and Burbury (below)


Investment obvious now. Off the back of its success, we developed Burbury Hotel and Apartments on an adjoining part of the site with great confidence in its success. We then built Little National Hotel across the road and purchased the heritage listed Brassey Hotel at the other end of the street. We didn’t set out to have this large portfolio, but each addition to it seemed very logical and this organic growth has been very successful. We have a very strong location in the ACT and offer everything that a guest could need, with rooms from 3.5-star to 5-star, day spas, gyms, restaurants and bars, large conference rooms and small meeting rooms. The major element in our success in the non-rooms side of the business is that we focus on the local rather than our guests. Our bars and restaurants service the city not the hotel, so our guests enjoy the local experience rather than the hotel experience. Many hotels are now strategically trying to provide local experiences, whereas ours always have been as we look to create places that we would like to go to. Our focus now is definitely outside of Canberra, although we note that many people are still trying to initiate or expand their presence there. We will just keep reinvesting in our assets to make our offer even more compelling as the years go by.

What are some of the major challenges of being an owner-operator and how do you overcome them?

Gaining relevance in the market is the biggest hurdle with new hotels. The larger hotel chains with established brands should create greater pre-opening demand than smaller groups like ours. We have to work harder with key clients and ensure that we have strong brand recognition and loyal guests. In the absence of a points-based loyalty scheme this can be hard, but we have some very personal touches for our loyal guests. Again, the online distribution channels do provide some opportunities to overcome some of these challenges.

Where do you see the future of the hotel industry in Australia and what are the biggest opportunities and challenges at present?

It is a fantastic time to be involved in the hotel industry. Tourism is on the up and up and the industry is recognised as an important pillar in the economy. Lenders are becoming more proper alternatives to commercial and retail investment. Cities are also recognizing their economic importance, preferring them over residential apartments in their cities. As hotel groups consolidate, we see the opportunity in being a true boutique operator will allow us to enjoy a strong place in the market. n

How easy is it to build new hotels in Australia at present and what challenges are you finding in the market as an investor?

It is difficult for Little National Hotel as we are so particular about the locational requirements. Once we have found a site, we can confidently secure it as we have done in Sydney and Newcastle. We secured a Little National Hotel site in Brisbane in what we consider was the best location for a hotel, but were unfortunately stifled by local Council issues with the site being nominated for one of the major Brisbane Metro stations. Funding hotel development places a heavy demand on equity and your cash-flow needs to be strong to enable trade up to take place. We have been fortunate that our hotels have always traded up rapidly. The greatest challenge with Little National Hotel is that it is unique in Australia and doesn’t share the same metrics as other hotels. It may be a few years before valuers fully appreciate the model and accept its uniqueness but we are very happy with the success we are having.

“We have secured sites for Little National Hotels in the Sydney CBD and Newcastle, with construction of both commencing in 2018.” JURE DOMAZET, Managing Director, Doma Group

Doma Group is wellknown for its stunning interiors (and above)

32 HM The Business of Accommodation


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Rooms Division

Bathroom

R

BLISS

estorative moments are required everywhere,” Elements of Byron’s General Manager Michael Skinner tells HM. “The spa experience cannot be limited to only when you walk through the day spa doors.” But it’s not just luxe bathroom amenities guests are after, Skinner says, guests are now increasingly asking where the products are sourced from; if they’re sustainable; and if they’re eco-friendly or organic. “Whereas international brands used to be more appealing, nowadays the focus is hyper-local. That has been a major shift.” Elements of Byron – an MGallery property in Byron Bay – provides its guests with a host of high-end bathroom amenities by Apelles Apothecary, a luxury Australian-made Vanity Group product.

LOCALLY SOURCED

Vanity Group’s founder and CEO Paul Tsalikis says that whilst the locally sourced trend is the new buzzword about town; it’s not a new thing for them. “We have always encouraged and used locally sourced ingredients in our products,” he says. “This is not new to us as many of our brands are required to be formulated using the key USP properties that are sourced from local suppliers.” “Many of these ingredients cannot be replicated or matched outside of Australia.”

ECO-AWARE

Swisstrade’s Director, Peter Weingartner, echoes this sentiment, telling HM that more and more consumers are demanding locally sourced bathroom amenities. 34 HM The Business of Accommodation

BONNIE TAI speaks to several market leaders in the bathroom amenities game to learn more about the trends dominating the space.


Rooms Division “As the conscious consumer is more trend-savvy than ever, we have seen an unprecedented demand for authentic and locally manufactured toiletry brands. “There is also a strong shift towards guest toiletry brands as a marketing strategy and using eco-friendly guest toiletries to visibly demonstrate a commitment to the environment.” Weingartner points to Swisstrade’s new BioNaturals range as a product that meets the modern-day traveller’s desire to support an environmentally responsible society. The eco-friendly toiletries are cost-effective, certified organic and come in a number of sizes.

RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS TOP TIPS TO TAKE ON BOARD WHEN CHOOSING YOUR BATHROOM PRODUCTS, AS TOLD BY VANITY GROUP’S PAUL TSALIKIS

• Take into consideration guests’ average length of stay and density per room before choosing the size of products • Ensure a unisex product is not highly fragranced • Do your research to determine the genuine value of the brands presented Vanity Group CEO Paul Tsalikis

Another company that is on a crusade to produce products that tread lighter on the earth is Hunter Amenities. “We are proud to be the first amenity company to have 100 per cent of our products ERP certified and carbon neutral,” said Hunter Amenities’ Managing Director, Mike Matulick. “We offer an extensive range of environmentally friendly solutions to our hotel partners by researching the latest packaging technologies, ingredients and formulations to ensure all our products are ethically sourced, not tested on animals and free from parabens, CDEA and phthalates.” Matulick believes that by thinking locally and working with their clients, they can ultimately remove their carbon footprint. “All our new luxurious bath and body products are now 100 per cent carbon neutral. “Our hotel clients can tell their guests they are helping to support carbon offset programs in developing countries.” When asked which one of Hunter’s products tick all of the boxes, Matulick speaks highly of their latest Vive ReCharge brand which is produced from sustainably sourced ingredients and comes in sleek black packaging. n

hotelmanagement.com.au 35


NEW FOR 2018

Working with brands from those home grown in Australia and New Zealand, to those rich in British and European heritage, VANITY GROUP is passionate about providing an offering to suit the individual needs of hotels across the globe. Recently welcoming a number of world renowned brands into their portfolio, VANITY GROUP is proud to introduce what’s new for 2018.

ENHANCING HOTEL GUEST EXPERIENCES ALL DAY, EVERY DAY ACROSS THE GLOBE APOTHEKE LIVED IN LUXURY Driven by scent and a passion for beautifully made products, Apotheke believe a well made product speaks for itself, filling your home with simplicity and quality. Making life beautiful with intention, this homegrown Brooklyn brand is recognised for natural handcrafted soaps and fragranced candles with a lifestyle that is lush yet simple.

ATKINSONS 200 YEARS OF PERFUME EXCELLENCE Atkinsons was established in London in 1799 by James Atkinson. The fragrance house and its emblematic bear became the official perfumer to the Royal Court of England and to the most aristocratic and exclusive clientele worldwide. Drawing on 200 years of English eccentricity, style and impeccable manners, Atkinsons is now ushering in a new century of perfume snobbery.


Photo Credit (left and right): Balmain Paris Hair Couture, Photographer Joan Braun

BALMAIN HAIR COUTURE MADE BY DESIGNERS FOR DESIGNERS Most recently welcomed to the VANITY GROUP portfolio, Balmain Hair Couture, part of the Balmain Paris fashion label founded in 1945, has over 40 years of experience in combining hair essentials with the latest catwalk trends. The collections are inspired by backstage secrets and mirror all a woman needs to create the ultimate catwalk inspired look. > available by invitation only.

ELEMENTS INSPIRED BY NATURE’S ELEMENTS Inspired by guests’ desire for natural, pure products, this new collection from New Zealand brand The Aromatherapy Company combines the key elements of Air, Earth, Fire and Water to create a natural body and hair care range to stir the senses. Each of the four collections are the embodiment of nature’s finest elements.

KEVIN.MURPHY SKINCARE FOR YOUR HAIR KEVIN.MURPHY is a fashion focused range of salon only, professional, hair care products. Born from the same philosophy as skin care and inspired by nature’s best, KEVIN.MURPHY is an indulgence of runway looks and natural aromatherapy catered for every hair type. This new generation of KEVIN.MURPHY products are a game changer for the discerning travellers as well as for hotel amenities. > available by invitation only.

VANITYGROUP.COM


Technology

Tech FRIENDLY Leading hotel industry consultant TED HORNER looks at what’s hot in technology for properties across the globe.

S

1. SERVICE AUTOMATION

elf-serve is in. Today, many guests prefer technology over human interaction for simple tasks. Remote check-in and check-out options are becoming popular, and some hotels are beginning to work with apps that let guests order room service right from their mobile devices. There’s a whole range of basic guest requests that can be automated with the right technology, which frees hotel staff up for other activities that enhance the guest experience. And the trend is only going to accelerate.

2. MOBILE DEVICE AS DOOR KEY IS COMING OF AGE

This technology has now arrived in Australia with recent installs at Skye Hotel Suites in Parramatta and Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley with more to follow. While still small, uptake of this technology it is starting to gain traction and Hilton is pushing this technology heavily with global advertising campaigns. I believe that many hotels will begin to adopt this technology as it becomes more commonplace both here in Australia and overseas.

3. TABLETS IN GUESTROOMS

In the last 12 months a number of hotels in Australia have installed Apple iPads in guestrooms to replace guest compendiums plus allowed guests to order room services via their tablet (including full integration with the hotel’s Point of Sale System). Hotels such as Crown Towers in Perth, Elements at Byron Bay and Skye Hotel Suites have installed them, and guest feedback has been very positive plus room service orders have increased by up to 20 per cent over previous orders being placed over the phone. I believe many more hotels will install these systems as there is now sufficient evidence that there is a ROI where there was not previously.

4. GUEST ROOM PHONES ARE BECOMING LESS IMPORTANT

Once upon a time, people used their room phones. However, the pervasiveness of mobile devices has relegated the conventional room phone to a vastly reduced role if at all and many hotels will in my opinion remove them altogether for a text messaging or Whatsapp type of application. I am currently staying at a resort hotel in Orlando, Florida and at check-in, reception asked me for my mobile number and on entering my room I received a text message asking me if my room was ok, if I had internet issues and instead of calling reception I texted my issue and received an instant reply

5. GUEST APPS AND THE NEED FOR HOTELS TO STAY CONNECTED WITH THEIR GUESTS

The vision of the connected guest entails nearly every aspect of the guest experience. Something as complex as that needs a single hub from which to operate and guest apps for personal mobile devices are the natural place to host these functions. A smartly 38 HM The Business of Accommodation


Technology designed guest app combines everything from deal notifications to hotel services to loyalty programs. If you see a guest using the group rate for a conference, you could use the app to electronically send your guest the event itinerary, complete with a map of meeting spaces where sessions will be held. Most major hotels have some element of this picture in play already, and they’re adding capabilities every day. Some of the major flags are closer, but much of the technology and integration is still in development. Regardless of who gets there first, one thing is certain: the hotel with a truly connected experience will be full of very happy and very empowered guests.

5. BATTLE FOR BANDWIDTH

A smart phone. A laptop. A tablet. guests are bringing every Internet bandwidth-sucking device they own when they travel. And whether they’re travelling for business or pleasure, you can bet you’re going to hear about it if they can’t connect as quickly and reliably as they’re used to at home. The best hospitality brands in their efforts to deliver a better guest experience are rolling out new WiFi technology using Central Authentication and Hotspot 2.0 whereby guests can connect their devices more easily and removing the requirement to enter last name and room number every new day or every new stay in the same hotel. Remembering a guest details and their devices and allowing them to connect automatically to the WiFi network in the hotels is the new battleground for the major hotel chains. Whatever the new solution, rest assured, the demand for bandwidth at hotels is only going to grow dramatically particularly as guests wish to download their own content from their tablet or smart phone and then want to screen share with the Smart TV in the room.

6. LOCATION-BASED SERVICES

This technology is in its infancy in hotels, but the implications are huge. Being able to understand where hotel staff and guests are located at any given time creates all kinds of opportunities to improve the guest experience, from being able to deliver services to guests while freeing them from their rooms to helping event staff operate more efficiently to turning over rooms more quickly and beyond. Now with WiFi access points being installed throughout the hotel, this is possible .

7. TECH-ENABLED PUBLIC SPACES: LOBBIES AND RECEPTION

Airline check-ins. Local info guides. A place where guests can get out of their rooms but still access WiFi to relax or get work done. The usages for technology in hospitality seem to grow every year, and savvy hospitality businesses are transforming these guest desires into stylish semi-public spaces where guests can engage tech on their terms. Many guests are even beginning to include these kinds of technologies in their online hotel search criteria, so hospitality businesses that lack them may eventually find themselves at a disadvantage. One of the best examples of this is Citizen M.

8. HIGH-TECH MEETING SPACES

The modern meeting space has evolved. No longer is it about tables and chairs and nice serving carts. Modern meetings run on technology. Business people need to have access to multimedia and do video conferencing with remote attendees, sometimes both simultaneously. And for the marathon meetings, they’d like access to services like catering with minimal interruptions. Most of all, smart hotels know they need these spaces to be as user-friendly as possible. The A/V rooms of the past that required dedicated engineers are no longer an option. If you think these kinds of business needs are limited to boardroom-style conference spaces, you’re missing an important part of the picture: business customers are increasingly asking for advanced technology enablement in ballrooms and event halls, as well. n

hotelmanagement.com.au 39


Technology

Audio-visual

TRENDING

The latest audio-visual technology is turning up in hotels across Australasia and HM speaks to some of the leading suppliers to find out what’s hot in the market. Interviews by James Wilkinson LG Russ Prendergast Senior Marketing Manager, ITID Where do you see the Audio Visual market in Australasian hotels at present?

There is a lot of demand for AV products in the Australasian hotel market at the moment. The big hotel chains have so many new builds and developments in the pipeline that there are numerous opportunities. This is delivering a knock-on effect with some of the older hotel operators who must consider upgrading their AV in order to keep pace with the competition.

What technology should Australasian hotels offer guests at present?

The most important technology for any hotel is their internet speed. We know about the importance of free, high-speed WiFi, particularly for corporate guests. But the truth is the performance of many key features of any hardware is dependent on a fast and reliable internet connection. Additionally, with a number of hotels looking into IP-based solutions for their guests’ in-room entertainment, it’s imperative that the Internet speed can accommodate the demand.

Do you think Australasian hotels are keeping pace with the global hotel industry when it comes to the latest technology?

The region has some very good hotels, but the reality is some of these Australasian hotels aren’t at the forefront of tech adoption. One of the biggest obstacles for hotels in the region is the limited budget when compared to some of their overseas counterparts. Hotels in this region are also slow to upgrade in-room TVs. Hotel operators are very cautious in investing in new technology, fearing that a newer, better technology is on the horizon. Unfortunately, this means that they aren’t able to deliver the best possible experience to their guests with the technology to support their viewing preferences and personal devices. 40 HM The Business of Accommodation

Aside from in-room entertainment, there are other products like keyless entry and tablet controlled rooms, which many hotels have on their respective wish lists. Of course, with the myriad costs facing operators, technology often takes a back seat.

What kind of products are in demand for hotels in Australasia at present?

Hotel operators know that guests are increasingly using their own devices in-room, so they are looking to enable a more familiar experience by allowing guests to connect to the hotel TV with their personal accounts. This trend has driven demand for products used to assist in the screen sharing process, such as Google’s Chromecast and the Sonifi Staycast. These devices enable guests to access their own Netflix, YouTube or similar streaming service, which is generally preferable over the local or cable channels pre-selected by hotels.

Which of your products from your current offering should hotels in Australasia be looking at installing?

The LG Pro:Centric Smart Set Top Box (STB5500) adds Pro:Centric Smart features to non-Pro:Centric TVs. Hoteliers who are not ready to upgrade TVs can enjoy access to features including smart content customisation, connectivity and Smart IP-based solutions.

What have been some of your key installations recently?

LG recently completed an installation at the 120-room Best Western in Carlton, Victoria, which included a selection of Pro:Centric Smart TVs and backed by the Pro:Centric V Solution. The V Solution allowed Best Western to connect to the LG server using Radio Frequency infrastructure, and customised guest user interface. They used this to create and broadcast their own channel, as well as services like weather and maps. LG has also completed a number of hotel installations across Australia, many of which include LG partner’s Pro:Centric Smart Application. This allows hotels to customise the user interface, offer mirror apps like YouTube as well as support a selection of video-ondemand services.


Technology LIFESTYLE PANEL Regan Baynes National Sales Manager - Australia/New Zealand Where do you see the Audio Visual market in Australasian hotels at present?

Providing content today is critical whether it’s guests bringing their own material or the hotel or resort providing for them. Visual content must be displayed on the big screen offered by both the accommodation facility and from the guests’ devices via casting with ease and reliability. The modern traveller will no longer settle for the usual offering and poor to fair services and is unlikely to return to a Hotel or Resort if the technology is not satisfactory.

Do you think Australasian hotels are keeping pace with the global hotel industry when it comes to the latest technology?

No, technology deployment is usually delayed due to cost and business disruption. New cabling is often required to deliver sufficient customer experience today and the industry is struggling with the cost base. Lifestyle Panel (LSP) with its unique delivery system does not require any new cabling with very limited business disruption providing the latest technology to a room within 15 minutes.

What technology should Australasian hotels offer guests at present?

Digital compendiums, in-room WiFi with a personal app for each guest or room, Movies-on-Demand priced correctly, casting, digital signage, language selection and know your own customer through LSP Analytics.

What kind of products are in demand for hotels in Australasia at present? Premium WiFi, premium content, casting and personalised experience.

Which of your products from your current offering should hotels in Australasia be looking at installing?

In our opinion the complete suite however our unique system provides a modular approach, which allows our partners to customise features to their individual or brand requirements.

What have been some of your key installations recently?

Wyndham Resorts North America for their vacation ownership group. We are rolling out premium services to a range of accommodation facilities each and every week in Australia and across the globe.

SWIFT NETWORKS Xavier Kris Chief Executive Officer Where do you see the Audio Visual market in Australasian hotels at present?

It’s a dynamic time where the need to meet consumer expectations and deliver positive guest experience is exigent. Consumer trends are progressing at a pace which we have never seen before due to the greatest single driving force: Technology. Our personal devices are an intrinsic part of our lives and therefore continuous access to our gadgets and the services they deliver is now an expectation and no longer a perk. Consequently, Audio Visual assets are now more than a means to deliver Free-to-Air TV, but an opportunity for hotels to create a branded digital experience for guests. Hotels can now communicate with guests, take bookings, receive room service orders and offer additional services all in a way that is easy to use, seamless and intuitive for the guest. The TV screens in the guest’s room, or their personal device, can now become a digital concierge and a platform for hotels to engage guests with their brand and deliver incremental revenue.

With the pace at which content services are becoming available in the home having outstripped that offered by many hotels, it is time for hotels to regain their traditional user experience advantage and provide audio visual services which exceed the guests’ at home experience. The need to use our own devices, access a range of entertainment and work efficiently while on the road means that hotels face the challenge of providing more than just a reliable internet connection.

Do you think Australasian hotels are keeping pace with the global hotel industry when it comes to the latest technology?

Aggressive technology strategies have in the past predominantly been adopted by the larger hotel operators around the world. Historically, investment in technology was required to keep up with their competitive set, but now operators see technology as a crucial platform for differentiating their hotels and delivering the highest standard in a personalised guest experience in addition to increasing their average daily rates. Australasia is no different. We have early adopters to technology and these have traditionally been 5-star hotels. However, now in an ever-increasing competitive landscape we are seeing new boutique and independent operators raising the bar. They appreciate that investing in technology is worthwhile as they strive to deliver a seamless integrated guest experience which ultimately benefits their businesses into the future with returning guests who become loyal to the hotel brand. Swift Networks understands the necessity for clear focus and dedication to the guest experience and we offer a solution that is customisable and scalable. This allows operators of all sizes to be able to implement the latest technology, the latest content, deliver high standards in guest experience accompanied by higher revenues.

What technology should Australasian hotels offer guests at present?

Globally the expectation is that everything needs to be easily accessible. Consider a domestic trip in Australia. Each step, from your travel to checking in at the hotel can be carried out from a mobile device. The hotel experience is identical. Guests want access to information and services at a click of a button whether that be via the TV in their room or from their own device. Ordering room service or booking a facility such as a meeting room should be instantaneous and integrated in the hotel’s PMS. At Swift we recognise these expectations. We have a dedicated R&D team continually advancing our technology and its functionality ensuring guests have access to all of a hotel’s amenities at the click of a button and presented in a fashion that is intuitive and easy to use.

What kind of products are in demand for hotels in Australasia at present?

Technology that delivers meaningful, personalised and high-impact guest experiences are all in great demand. Market leaders are using data and consumer-led insights to drive emotional connections with guests and in this respect generating revenue opportunities whilst contributing to a positive guest experience. Guest profiles and an individual’s usage pattern of the hotel’s audiovisual system can provide strong analytics which delivers valuable insight for operators who wish to create a tailored guest experience. A perfect example is tailoring advertising to guests based on their usage patterns and relevant to their interests. Advertising (long thought of as something to be tolerated) now becomes a valued feature with the added benefit of allowing operators to attract 3rd party investment and create new revenue opportunities. In-room entertainment technology continues to evolve in the hotel industry and providing high quality content is another key element to surpassing a guest’s expectations. Guests should have access to what they want to watch, when they want to watch it. Providing a large suite of unique and exclusive on demand content in addition to linear channels provides guests with a premium experience. hotelmanagement.com.au 41


Technology

Melbourne’s Jazz Corner Hotel features Philips TVs

To meet the needs and viewing habits of your clientele it’s important to choose an in-room digital entertainment provider who has access to an array of the very best in content covering sports, news, TV shows on demand, movies and exclusive content from around the world.

Which of your products from your current offering should hotels in Australasia be looking at installing?

The Swift Connect product provides a familiar home style experience for interacting with digital content when travelling. Swift has secured an unrivalled content library for all guests to enjoy whenever they want on their TV set or personal device. With a library comprised of the latest Hollywood movies from all the major studios, TV boxsets from Sony, Fox, BBC, Turner and DreamWorks and the latest Hollywood and sporting news from People TV and Sports Illustrated and Premier League coverage from Optus Sport, not to mention documentaries, fashion, wellness content and arthouse movies accompanied by children’s content from the ABC.

42 HM The Business of Accommodation

Swift’s content is available on a global basis and is constantly expanding to include regional content, so regardless of language and background there is something for your guests to enjoy. Not only can guests access leading entertainment content, they can order room service, book a massage and check out the local attractions all from their TV screen or mobile device. The hotel achieves increased efficiencies in their existing booking systems and promotions, as well as higher revenues through the promotion and ease of access to additional services within the hotel and surrounding area. Behind the scenes Swift Connect provides the opportunity to capture the most viewed content and booking history which provides the hotel with insight into viewing and purchasing patterns leading to personalised advertising direct to the guest, improving both guest experience and hotel revenues Ultimately with Swift Connect, guest experience and satisfaction increase, resulting in return custom, loyalty and incremental revenue.


Technology What have been some of your key installations recently?

We have found success in large scale, global brands as well as boutique operators who are seeking to increase their content offering and provide a digital concierge service to their guests. Our recent wins include Aloft Perth, Jackalope Resort, Holiday Inn St Marys, Jonah’s Boutique Hotel, Bells at Killcare and the Holiday Inn Express projects. This sees us continuing to build our portfolio of partnerships to join the likes of Mercure, Hilton, Sheraton, Rydges and Marriott to name a few.

WESTAN AUSTRALIA Michael Carvosso Director (Australasian Distributor of Philips)

They should be focusing on allowing guests to bring their own content and connect their own devices to in room screens. Allowing access to streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and other user pay subscriptions guests already subscribe to and have access to when they travel.

Smart TVs with the ability to provide online content, support casting from mobile devices and deliver hotel information by means of a cost effective, easily customisable and maintained digital compendium.

Transitioning from movie systems to the BYOD / BYOC environment whilst still offering guests hotel information via a digital compendium. Also, upgrading screen size and the quality of the picture to catch up with what we all have at home.

Do you think Australasian hotels are keeping pace with the global hotel industry when it comes to the latest technology?

You spoke. We listened.

What technology should Australasian hotels offer guests at present?

What kind of products are in demand for hotels in Australasia at present?

Where do you see the Audio Visual market in Australasian hotels at present?

Yes on the whole Australian hotels are ahead of, or on par with, most hotels around the world; with some exceptions they are not necessarily responsible for: • Picture quality of free to air and cable TV in Australia is not the equal of Europe and North America so the end result for guests in Australia is inferior to Europe and North America; and

• Internet access is not as affordable or fast here as other parts of the world so streaming services and online content is not as easily or reliably accessed.

Which of your products from your current offering should hotels in Australasia be looking at installing?

Philips Mediasuite TV provides all the functionality that a hotel requires for in room entertainment, and Signature TVs provide all the functionality with market leading performance.

What have been some of your key installations recently?

Pullman Brisbane, Eatons Hill Hotel Brisbane, Charlie Park Hotel Melbourne, Vibe Savoy and the Jazz Corner Hotel in Melbourne. n

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hotelmanagement.com.au 43


Technology

leaders

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

HM checks in with some of the leading Property Management Systems (PMS) suppliers serving hotels in Australasia

R

MS has been a leader in hospitality software solutions for 35 years, servicing over 5000 properties in 25 countries and the company says its major focus at present is integrating its Property Management System’s (PMS) distribution, channel management and direct booking capabilities with mobile applications for smartphones. Allowing guests to interact directly with the PMS through their smartphone, as well as other third party devices, will open up a host of guest services including the ability to check-in and keyless door entry to name just two. Operational internal portals that staff can access with their smartphones will continue to refine and increase efficiency around the housekeeping and maintenance functions of the property. The housekeeping and maintenance crews can communicate directly in real time with the PMS. RMS is continuing to refine and develop channel management, Internet booking and GDS functionality to allow for ease of booking from mobile devices and to increase the number of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) that the system connects to. Upcoming functionality enhancements include the ability to allow guests to book facilities (i.e. jet ski safaris, canoe hire, picnic venues) and to allow multiple same day bookings in the same room (i.e. to accommodate guests in transit or allow for flight delays, etc.) Interestingly, data from RMS’ Channel Manager and Internet Booking Engine tools has shown a shift from traditional (desktop and laptop) to mobile application (tablets and smartphones) bookings, but that traditional booking channels still represent the vast majority of bookings. Across all global customers, all online bookings increased by 35 per cemnt in the first week of November 2017 compared to the first week of November 2016, while online bookings from mobile applications increased by 947 per cent from the first week of November 2015 to the first week of November 2017, representing around 26 per cent of all online bookings, compared to only 4 per cent in the first week of November 2015. On the client side, the feedback for RMS’ recent upgrades has been resoundingly positive. Punthill Group Operations and Development Manager Peter Ferris said: “Punthill Apartment Hotels

44 HM The Business of Accommodation

has been using RMS for over six years, moving from RMS 8 to RMS Cloud as the technology has developed. We are impressed with the advances RMS has made over the years and consider them an industry leader. “Our portfolio consists of 800 keys across 13 properties throughout Australia. All reservations and revenue management is centrally controlled from our head office. “The ability for us to manage the inventory of our 13 properties across a single database has saved us considerable time, effort and resources. “The introduction of their direct Channel Manager has streamlined our revenue management practices, ensuring maximum yields are achieved. We have also seen a 30 per cent reduction in our reservation staffing costs as all OTA bookings now drop directly into RMS. “The custom report writer allows us to extract important financial, statistical and customer data easily and effectively. Their cost model is flexible and allows us to expand our inventory with minimal capex costs seen in traditional server based software. “RMS, unlike many other competitors, remain flexible on the development of their software to suit the needs and challenges of our business and industry. We look forward to continuing our successful partnership,” said Ferris. Hirum is promoting its ‘Hirum Anywhere’ product, which is designed to be mobilefirst and offers Property Managers “the opportunity to work from anywhere, anytime, even without the internet or power”. “Hirum Anywhere is the complete end to end solution in one easy to use package and from the initial guest enquiry, right through to the post guest review, we have you covered,” the company says. “Our innovative solution ensures your business not only receives more bookings resulting in more profit, but frees up your valuable time to work ‘on’ your business rather than ‘in’ your business.” Starfleet says its Property Management Software “provides a value for money solution for Motels, Hotels, Resorts, Serviced Apartments and Backpackers”. “The software can be installed on the client premises or in the Cloud. We currently service properties from under 10 rooms to over 700 rooms,” the company says. “These properties can be stand alone or part of a group. We also integrate with MYOB, QuickBooks or Xero for accounting data and we also integrate with most of the popular major Point of Sale (POS) suppliers in Australia / NZ as well as having our own touch screen POS software.” Connectivity Redefined announced it has begun the process of on-boarding an initial group of major Property Management Systems (PMS) to its innovative BlackBox Revolution enterprise message bus. The all-in-one technology service is designed to solve the problems PM Systems face establishing direct connections and fulfilling 3rd-party application requests with a single connection to the BlackBox. The ability to make connections in days rather than months with greater ease and reduced IT expenses represents an exciting development that makes it easier for technology companies to successfully launch new mobile apps, online travel agencies, and revenue management systems. n


Technology

Mastering

social media

The saying right now is ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ and for the hotel industry that is yet another social media minefield. BONNIE TAI looks at some of the hot trends in social media and how hotels can master it.

I

f it’s not on Instagram, were you even there?” This is fast becoming the mantra for many millennial travellers, making it increasingly important for hotels and travel brands to adopt a solid social media strategy. But with social newsfeeds evolving from once exclusively peer-to-peer platforms, to one that allows brands to engage direct with its clients, it can be difficult for the user to cut through the irrelevant sponsored posts to meaningfully connect with companies most aligned with their interests. So begins the dilemma: What can hoteliers do to get noticed and really set them apart from the rest? Enter Holly Galbraith, an independent Sydney-based social media guru and digital marketing consultant, who for the last decade has helped travel brands raise their online profile. When it comes to social media trends shaping the hotel sector as of late, Galbraith identified influencerdriven content as one to watch out for. “It is not a brand new idea, but it is a hot social media trend for resorts and hotels at the moment,” she told HM. “The idea revolves around inviting a person with a specific niche and a highly engaged social media following to come and experience your property or destination with the purpose of them sharing the experience across their social media channels to expose your product to their followers. “In some cases, these influencers may be paid or sponsored,” Galbraith said. There’s also been an emerging trend of collaborating with non-traditional partners. “We are seeing tourism businesses partner with charities, environmental groups, start-ups and other organisations where they can see purposes aligned,” she said. Another technique Galbraith said is on the up-and-up is the use of guest-generated content being used in marketing. “We are seeing this for many brands as people now want to look beyond carefully curated and styled hotel shots and understand the real experience,” she said. “There are several ways this content is being captured, such as via hashtags or by hotel staff on site.” But what if you’re an expert Tweeter with an engaged audience, but you’re not seeing the same traction as other social media sites? 46 HM The Business of Accommodation

Then you should adopt the concept of “platforming”, Galbraith puts simply. “Platforming is about selecting a couple of social media platforms and putting your energy into those rather than spreading yourself too thin across multiple channels,” she said. “It’s about choosing consciously the platforms you will be active in and putting your time and energy into those to ensure they get traction and becoming tools for you. “This helps you stay focused and not be distracted by the next new social media platform out there. “It also helps you get traction on what social platform as you can give it the time it needs to create value for you,” she said. When asked which hotel and travel brands were leaders in the social space, Galbraith does not skip a beat when she answers. “InterContinental Sydney is one to watch as their commitment is to the customer experience first,” she said. “That translates through to their social media, and that’s the way it should be for hotels... leading with the experience not leading with social media.”

A CONSTANT JOURNEY

“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve mastered it yet, but we’re on an exciting journey,” InterContinental Sydney’s Director of Marketing, Lee Siefken, told HM. “Over the last six months we’ve done a lot of learning and testing.” She credits the hotel group’s creative content and design as something that really appeals to the digital masses. “We love to test and leverage new creative solutions across social; for example FB Canvas, Instalive, and new video formats. The engagement we’ve seen from these formats has been very promising,” she said. When asked if the group “pay to play” on Facebook and Instagram, Siefken said IHG has a strict rule against buying followers. “While we refuse to buy followers, we have invested in Facebook and Instagram advertising solutions to promote and drive our restaurants, hotel and bespoke experiences with outstanding success,” she said. “There is definitely an art to social advertising, but should you master is making sure the ROI is impressive and that puts a lot of power back into the hands of the marketing team.” n

ESSENTIAL SOCIAL MEDIA PRACTICES

Top three social media practices that hotels need to adopt today, according to Holly Galbraith 1. Lead with the experience first. Great social media won’t fix an average product. If your product is great you will have loads to talk about plus you’ll get others raving about you too. 2. Be really clear about what your ‘content pills’ are – that is what your unique stories and the things that set you apart from your competitors and talk about those things across social media. 3. Track, measure and report. Understand how what you’re doing across social media is driving sales or supporting business objectives.


Staying CONNECTED Technology

An essential offering for any hotel, WiFi continues to get faster, cheaper and better than ever before, reports BONNIE TAI.

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here was once a time where a family owned just one computer, and it would sit in a communal space such as the dining room or living room to be shared by all. But with the proliferation of internet-enabled devices nowadays, people are increasingly becoming more dependent on mobile devices and tools, making it critical for hoteliers to adapt to the changing landscape to ensure their guests can stay connected at all times. According to a behavioural study conducted by Google in 2016, in an average day 57 per cent of people will use more than one type of device, while 21 per cent are concurrent users. “Beginning in the morning, smartphone usage is consistent throughout the day and into the night, while computer usage peaks around 8pm,” the study observed. And if you think there’s an off peak, you’d be mistaken, as more than 30 per cent of those who took part in the study used their mobile devices after midnight and through into the early hours. So what does this mean for Hoteliers? Well for one thing, a SmartBrief survey conducted recently also found that nearly 57 per cent of those polled would not book a hotel without free WiFi, while another 26 per cent said they would only book if they can claim it as a business expense. So what can hotels do to ensure connectivity to WiFi is readily available for the discerning traveller? First of all, “great hardware must meet great software,” Mantra Group’s Executive Director of IT Garry Rich told HM. “[Our] system allows our guests to stay seamlessly connected to the system as they move through a property. The system automatically hands the connection to the best access point while maintaining the security of the session,” he said. The usage of multiple devices can also stress the actual WiFi infrastructure as well as the bandwidth, Rich explains, which is why it’s important to partner with technology leaders in this space to ensure that the guests’ connection “is not only reliable, but secure as well”. “Bandwidth is definitely a consideration with WiFi networks. Even with the NBN starting to get more penetration in the market, sourcing enough bandwidth still remains a challenge. This is particularly the case in regional and leisure areas,” he said. “However, [we] partner with some great vendors who excel in this space.” Rich said that while 4G mobile plans are starting to offer more and more data, he is still seeing “exponential growth” in WiFi usage both in terms of data downloaded and the number of devices accessing the network, and doesn’t predict this will slow down anytime soon. “Consumer expectations for what is considered a reasonable data cap will also continue to increase, particularly due to the prevalence of high-quality video available for consumption across popular digital channels. “This video consumption is a key driver for increased WiFi usage,” he said.

Guests want to be online, all the time with lightning fast WiFi

DON’T MAKE THESE MISTAKES

What not to do with WiFi, according to Mantra Group’s Executive Director of IT Garry Rich 1. Undercooking the network design: A good WiFi network isn’t just about fat internet pipes, “Poor network design will always degrade the user experience”. 2. Overlooking security protocols: “Customers need to have the confidence to connect without fear, data loss or security issues. Anyone can knock together a Wi-Fi network… but not everyone can secure it.” 3. Not capping the usage: “With the explosion of over the top content like Netflix, operators need to make sure everyone has a great user experience. Free-for-alls can hinder more than help a property if the system gets oversubscribed.” To allow for streaming, large fibre internet connections (1000mbps) are now available at extremely low prices in a lot of metro areas, explains Trudi Chambers, gx2 Technology’s regional sales manager. “This comes just in time as streaming becomes prevalent across most guest usage,” she told HM. “The Toga Group has now rolled out extremely fast connections to almost all its hotels and is now budgeting up to 2Mbps per concurrent user... three years ago, this amount of internet would have kept 20 premium guests happy.” Chambers said hotels have also worked out that WiFi is not just for their guests. “New network designs cover not only rooms and public areas, but corridors and back of house too as WiFi becomes more of a utility needed to deliver productivity and cost savings to a property,” she said. As an example, Chambers points to a recently opened Sydney property that runs WiFi, IPTV, IP guest phones, VOIP phones as well as CCTV, garage access, and their door locks across their network. “The message is simple: good networks, well designed, installed and managed deliver value,” she said. “This means that hotels have to budget properly for technology.” “There are a lot of fads being promoted, most of them won’t stick. “The iPad is only seven years old and the iPhone just on 10; picture the uses for and products running across a hotel WiFi network in 2022. “I don’t think most of us can really see how different it will be, but it is going to change radically,” Chambers said. n hotelmanagement.com.au 47


Rooms Division

small things ALL THE

The biggest trend in appliances is that they are getting smaller. From micro-sized washing machines, to slender kettles, the meek have become the mighty.

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obert Weatherdon, Managing Director of R. Weatherdon and Co, maintains that maximising space is the key trend in the world of in-room appliances. He said every millimetre matters due to the dual drivers of sky-high real estate and the public’s penchant for boutique properties. “Initially clients were focussed solely on cost. That conversation has changed. Increasingly, compact and curated are the key words we hear from clients. “It says a lot about the end of austerity in the accommodation economy, but more so it reflects the trend to trim,” said Weatherdon. Providers are shaving millimetres wherever they can, seeking economies of space. As floorplates shrink, so must room accessories. Kettles have shrunk and there’s myriad more choices. Where once there was just the 1.7-litre, now suppliers have risen to the challenge with multi-faceted points of difference, evidenced by the just launched Nero Delia 0.8-litre. Clients are turning away from the super-sized domestic appliances, more at home in the family kitchen, seeking a bespoke appliance that reflects their brand. The Nero Reflex hair-dryer has shrunk down, now with a cord that retracts and a handle that folds. The clock radio has also been compressed to fit into narrow spaces and features Bluetooth, Android and smartphone compatibility. And Nero has also added 30and 40-litre silent fridges to its range. One of Australia’s leading boutique hotels, Pier One Sydney Harbour, recently underwent a full top-to-bottom collaboration with Dyson that’s seen the property install the latest fans, lights, dryers and the revolutionary SuperSonic hairdryer. “We chose the Dyson products because they add an extra layer of luxury to our guest experience,” Pier One Sydney Harbour Guest Experience Manager, Maria Macri-Nosari, told HM. “We think a lot about how our guest experience looks and feels from start to finish, so having a brand that is world class is something that as a Hotelier you look out for.” On the laundry front, NCE Commercial have just added the Daewoo Mini Washer Combo to its range. The Mini is a space-saving washing machine that will fit in anywhere. This innovative all-in-one washing machine allows guests to wash and dry their daily small loads in a reasonably short time period. Unlike normal washers, the Mini is wall-mounted, meaning that hotels can position it in a way that doesn’t take up valuable floorspace in wet rooms. The normal wash cycle takes only 29 minutes and consumes one-sixth of the energy which a large capacity washing machine would consume, while the quick wash cycle takes a mere 15 minutes. A full wash and dry cycle takes 88 minutes for loads under 500g. n

48 HM The Business of Accommodation

THE SEVEN GOLDEN RULES OF IN-ROOM APPLIANCES

With more than 40 years’ experience supplying over 1600 hotels in Australia and New Zealand the team at R. Weatherdon and Co. have developed a keen eye for the watch points of hotel design and accessories. Here are the seven things to look out for: 1. Hair-dryers: Ensure the hair dryer is easy to hold above head-height, the cord isn’t too rigid and stretches to the power point. 2. Irons: Look for models with auto shut-off for peace of mind. 3. Kettles: Test before purchase that it can be filled from the bathroom basin. 4. Clock radios: Specify day-light saving mode and a once-only alarm. 5. Vacuum: Pick a cord that reaches along corridors and wheels that push through plush carpets. 6. Ironing board: Choose one light enough to hang on the coat rail and stable enough to withstand a bump in the night. 7. Travel adaptor: Check that it’s universal and covers guests from all nations.


Food and Beverage

Caffeine nation Devoted caffeine addict EMMA CASTLE delves into the latest trends in the not-so-humble cuppa Joe.

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hen it comes to guest satisfaction, access to a decent coffee is one of the first things on most people’s agenda. Whether it’s inroom, in the lobby or at breakfast, that first heart starter can take your morning from ‘meh’ to magical. So how can hoteliers wow their incredibly particular guests? And what new products will help them do it?

MILKY WAY

The number of ‘milks’ on the market boggle the mind. From almond, to lactose-free and even macadamia milk, offering guests an option is a sure fire way to win their hearts. The days of individual serve UHT milks are numbered, especially at the higher end. In the same way that pillow menus revolutionised the bedding experience, some hotels have milk menus so that guests can have the milk of their choice delivered to their room. Offering a consistent coffee product is a challenge when you add in the human element but products like Pelican Rouge’s new Cream Creator is one way for hoteliers to safeguard against a lousy barista. Rick Mead from Pelican Rouge says, “The Cream Creator is manufactured in Germany and has only recently hit the Australian shores. It produces perfectly steamed and textured milk to the set temperature each and every time. The dense milk foam quality is suitable for latte art making almost any operator or barista capable of producing consistent quality beverages every time. The unit requires only a 15 amp power outlet and will draw from any milk source.”

MACHINE LEARNING

Another way of mitigating risk is to just move over and let the robots sort it out. Well, almost. The biggest trend hitting hotels is the introduction of fully automated coffee machines that, with a press of a button, do all the work for you.

Grinders Coffee have just launched a new machine called the Rancilio Baby 9. This sweet little machine uses capsules to ensure freshness, is energy efficient, needing only 10 amp power, and is fast, taking only 15 seconds to warm up and 25-30 seconds to brew the coffee. These types of mini-machines are making an appearance in event spaces, Club Lounges and even in top-tier suites as a way of ensuring that VIPs have access to quality coffee, day or night. If you’re after the James Bond of fully automatic machines, Coffee Works Express (CWE) has just started importing the Swiss-made Franke A1000. Offering refrigeration for two types of milk or milk alternatives and a FoamMaster fitting that creates barista-quality foam, this unit has an automatic CleanMaster cleaning system included as standard. The A1000 is internet-enabled so you can access it via your smartphone from anywhere in the world. This means that you can track which drinks are the top sellers in your region and keep an eye on how reliably your A1000 is working. To help you avoid downtime, the system tells you in good time when maintenance is due. With these features, smart coffee machines can make a big difference to the success of your business. Nespresso has also added the smaller-sized Aguila 220 to its range of out-of-home machine options, with the executive lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney and the conferencing floor at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour now featuring this machine.

DAILY GRIND

A recent Galaxy Research study found that of Australians who prefer capsule coffee, 83 per cent also like to experiment with coffee and try new ones. In response to this desire for novelty, Stefan Vermeulen, Nespresso Business Solutions commercial manager says, “In a bid to add greater variety into the hotel coffee service offering, Nespresso launched two new professional coffee flavours earlier this year, Espresso Caramel and Espresso Vanilla. “Based on Espresso Forte and with an intensity of seven, the Espresso Caramel has a sweet caramel flavour, reminiscent of the browning of sugar. Espresso Vanilla has a full and slightly caramelised aroma of vanilla combined with the Espresso Forte profile. “Nespresso’s Professional Variations coffee flavours can also be used to make iced coffees in the summer months, or flavoured lattes in the cooler months,” he said. n

HOT TREND: ESPRESSO MARTINIS

There’s not much we can do about the next-day hangovers they provide, but the new Coffee X-Tract range from Grinders certainly takes the pain out of making Espresso Martinis. Developed in conjunction with bartenders, Grinders X-Tract Espresso Martini mixer improves consistency and reduces the amount of liquid required due to its concentration; you only need a 30ml shot per cocktail. It has a long shelf life of 12 months unopened or seven days after opening (refrigerated). It also removes the need for espresso equipment behind the bar, saving space and money.

HOT TREND: SUSTAINABILITY

The millennial traveller is a particular driver of sustainability trends. With 50 per cent of 18-24 year olds saying they only drink sustainably sourced coffee, hoteliers have an increasingly important role in ensuring they can satisfy changing preferences. The Nespresso AAA Sustainability Quality Program focuses on delivering exceptional quality coffee, whilst collaborating with the coffee farmers to help improve the standard of living for them and their families. Nespresso now works with over 70,000 farmers in 12 coffee producing countries to improve social and environmental performance and coffee quality, focusing on soil and water conservation, reforestation, reduction of use of pesticides, working conditions and farmer income. With Nespresso Professional coffee in hotels, guests are able to enjoy the quality standards they expect, knowing it’s a sustainably sourced product.

hotelmanagement.com.au 49


Renovating TO BRAND Interior Design

STANDARDS

Great design can lead to a much higher room rate. Pictured: a new room at The Langham Hong Kong

Leading Asia Pacific interior design and development consultant PAUL WISTE looks at how best to prepare your property for a renovation while navigating design guidelines.

Design leader: Paul Wiste

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here comes a time in every project, regardless if it’s a management or franchise agreement, when a minor capital expenditure is not enough and you realise your property requires a major refurbishment. There are limitless reasons why it’s time to renovate. Sometimes refurbishment cycles are baked into the contract agreements, or perhaps the property is being prepared for sale; whatever the reason might be you should not have any concerns if you follow some simple and practical steps.

KNOW YOUR BRAND

The brand you signed up with is likely to have moved on since your property opened. In all likelihood over the years the brand has probably undergone an evolution to stay market relevant. Arrange to meet with the hotel group’s brand team to gain a better understanding of where the brand is currently positioned and most importantly in what direction they are planning to take it. Brand teams rarely meet with owners so in this circumstance expect some push back from the hotel group and recommendations to meet with their design and technical services team instead. You will meet them as well, but insist on meeting the brand team directly because you want to learn first-hand from the people who are at the sharp-end of brand development. The brand team will also be able to advise properties that exemplify the latest updated positioning. Visit these properties and meet with their General Managers to discuss what has been successful, what has not, and why. If you are running an independent property, consider commissioning a market study to see if your property has the potential to attract more guests or if you are attracting the best segment for the recommended positioning. If not, explore the options you might have to determine how to best make the cost of this renovation work for you and the bottom line. No one knows your property better than you do, but your guest profile may have changed and you may be missing out on an untapped market segment. 50 HM The Business of Accommodation

CHOOSE THE RIGHT DESIGN CONSULTANTS This is probably the easiest item to get wrong, and one of the most critical items to consider. All designers are not created equal and all do not design in the same way. You need to be careful with whom you are selecting to redesign your property so that you hire a highly motivated and experienced team that will give you the best platform for you to have a successful renovation. Designers have specialities within their experience that will help you achieve your desired upgrade. Do not just hire a designer because they did some work for you in the past; hire a designer with specific experience in both the type of property you are renovating (resort, hotel), the star rating, as well as similar experience either directly with your brand or within its bandwidth. Another tip is to not hire the firm, hire the person. If you determine that a particular firm designs in the right way for your project, find out who designed the projects you like. Even within firms there is great disparity between their designers. One thing many people don’t consider when considering design firm is the size. If you choose a large firm, your renovation might not be their priority project so it might not get the extra attention you expect. However, they will have a large machine of technicians and specialists that will be able to parachute in and provide project support and be more efficient. If you choose a smaller firm, your project might have more priority but you might not be


Interior Design able to benefit from the expertise of the before-mentioned specialists. Yet because you are the priority you might receive the attention that you expect that will make your project unique and more reflective of your brief. If you are unsure where to start, ask the hotel group to put you in touch with their design team for some advice and recommendations. Ask them why these firms were recommended, and don’t hold back if you question their initial advice.

DESIGN GUIDELINES ARE NOT DESIGN LAWS

Generally speaking, design guidelines are a highly informative set of guidance notes produce by a hotel management group that prescribe the best practices and valuable advice to complete a project specific to a brand. They are exclusively designed for new-build projects and rarely, if ever, reference renovation projects. This is because renovation projects already have a set of bones that for the most part cannot be broken while new builds are jellyfish. This means that with your renovation additional compromises are going to have to be accepted by the management group that would not necessarily be agreed to during a new-build project.

“It is unlikely that there has ever been or ever will be a hospitality project designed 100 per cent according to their design guidelines.” PAUL WISTE, leading hospitality design consultant It is unlikely that there has ever been or ever will be a hospitality project designed 100 per cent according to their design guidelines. Every hotel group will try to tell you that you must build exactly to their requirements so that they can achieve consistency within the brand across all of the portfolio. This is no different to how they would like to have every franchise or management agreement to be on the same terms, but this simply does not happen. The reality is that each project contains compromises that are reached in order to achieve a project in keeping with the hotel brand’s positioning and the owner’s requirements. Of course, there can be no compromise with health and life safety items, but as every project is in a different location with different dynamics, so too must the design guidelines reflect a moderate and reasonable amount of flexibility. When considering your renovation, make sure you are the one leading the process. By doing some simple legwork in advance you are giving yourself and your project the best conditions for it to be a success. n

MASTERING FOOD AND BEVERAGE

Leading Australian interior designer PAUL KELLY reveals his top five tips to getting restaurants right. 1. DON’T LET STAFF HIDE

In a hotel environment, staff are trained to perform duties that usually evolve from a wide ranging scope of promotion through the system. For example, a waiter could have been working in an office capacity in a previous location. The trick with food and beverage is that we want the staff to be thinking of the customer experience only and we need them to be on the floor, providing support and mainly energy to the restaurant space. Placing wait stations in an open location that reduces giving staff the ability to hide, for example, forces the team member to focus elsewhere (hopefully on serving the customer).

2. SEPARATE THE BAR FROM THE KITCHEN

The bar needs to sell beverages and the kitchen needs to sell food, and combining them confuses the customer and the staff. They can be close and should be for staffing numbers, but giving each of these areas their own identity assists in making the clients' experience simple and obvious, which when you a dealing with alcohol is imperative.

3. SHOW OFF THE KITCHEN

Irrespective of the size or staff numbers in the kitchen, customers need to see where their meals are coming from. I am not talking about a little pass window because the customer, if they are going to pay for a quality product, need to see and hear the origins of their fine fare. I am always nervous eating food that arrives like room service and instantly second guess the freshness or the heat of the meal.

4. MAKE IT EASY FOR THE CUSTOMER

When laying out a restaurant, the customer needs to know where to go without asking questions or feel that they are intruding in the kitchen for example. We always create a network of alternate floor finishes and walkways that tell the customer that if they keep following this tile, for

example, it will take them somewhere which is also public, like the toilets. We find this also works for the staff as well, as they lay the furniture out within this grid created and are always keeping the overall furniture concept together and the restaurant looking neat and tidy.

5. DON’T MAKE IT TOO OPEN

Most restaurants have periods of the day and night when there are no customers. People can smell a dud restaurant, and they are usually the ones without any customers, but sometimes this is due to a number of other factors, one of them being nothing to do with the quality of the restaurant. There is no need having a restaurant with a sea of furniture for the busy periods, because it’s the quiet periods that matter. We always lay out our restaurants in zones and split up the area into a number of smaller sections and this allows the customer to feel comfortable in a reduced scale whilst still maintaining the concept of the restaurant.

hotelmanagement.com.au 51


Development

Elements of Byron

Franchising demand

Franchising remains one of the most popular development models in Asia-Pacific and to find out the latest trends and regions in demand, HM speaks exclusively to six of the leading operators. Interviews by James Wilkinson ACCORHOTELS Lindsay Leeser Vice President Development - Pacific Why does franchising continue to be popular at present?

Franchisees and independent hoteliers are acknowledging that the industry has changed dramatically over the last 5-10 years and adapting to this change is critical to their survival and viability. Distribution, a strong digital presence and a database of loyal customers is now essential for any hotel to prosper and that is why franchise arrangements continue to be popular. The power of branding is also a key influencer and our collection of brands from economy, midscale, upscale and luxury allows us to complement and support the franchisee’s positioning in the market while bringing global recognition.

Which areas across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are in significant demand for the segment?

Regional cities and the luxury apartment and hotel sector around Australia is experiencing significant demand as operators look to grow outside of the tightly constrained city centres. AccorHotels’ brands have well established reach and global strength and this translates to strong brand awareness and market penetration in regional and remote Australia, which is also a driver of demand.

What’s in the franchising development pipeline across the region for 2018?

We have a very strong franchise development pipeline with 13 projects underway for 2017/18 and more are currently in the final stages of negotiation. We recently welcomed Mercure Alice Springs to the network as well as Mercure Orange which has undergone an impressive transformation and the addition of The Greenhouse of Orange, a brand new restaurant dining concept showcasing the best regional food and wine from the Central West of New South Wales. We opened Pullman and ibis Brisbane Airport hotels in October and these hotels are within walking distance of the Brisbane Domestic terminal. The precinct surrounding the airport is undergoing substantial redevelopment, and with another runway in the pipeline, the hotels are in a prime position to take advantage of the increase in activity.

CHOICE HOTELS ASIA-PAC Sarah McCully General Manager - Development Why does franchising continue to be popular at present? Being a part of a franchise, especially with a stable, 52 HM The Business of Accommodation

strong and successful brand, is the most logical step for entrepreneurial property owners who are genuine about making their business the best that it can be. This is especially true when compared to either operating independently or in membership based schemes or groups. Choice Hotels is the only 100 per cent pure play franchise within this industry; we neither own, operate nor manage any of our properties and our focus is to drive top line revenue growth of our franchise partners. For these reasons, our franchise partners still have the opportunity to maintain their own independence, yet benefit from the prestige and overall brand awareness of being a part of a strong global brand that consists of 6,300 hotels throughout 35 countries. Another reason for popularity is the list of value propositions offered that independent operators may struggle to provide their staff, or achieve financially on their own. Choice Hotels provides specialised training and support, group purchasing, GDS connectivity, lower OTA fees, national and regional advertising campaigns, customer lead generation via websites and call centres and a network of fellow franchisees who provide advice and moral support through annual conferences and regional meetings.

Which areas across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are in significant demand for the segment?

As we are solely a franchise business, we are seeing demands for our brand and services across the whole of Australia and New Zealand. Historically, we have been focusing on the corporate travel market and the demand focus has been primarily in regional centres and capital cities. However, with the launch of NeedaBreak.com in June 2017, true leisure destinations, as well as weekend drive market locations, have also seen a spike in demand for our brand and services.

What’s in the franchising development pipeline across the region for 2018?

We have a number of new properties that we hope to announce in the lead up to Christmas, and at this stage, 2018 is already looking like it will provide some exciting opportunities.

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP Matthew Tripolone, Head of Development, Australasia Why does franchising continue to be popular at present?

Franchising has been a huge part of IHG’s global business for many years, in fact more than 83 per cent of our hotels operate globally under a franchise agreement. In Australasia, the story is slightly different. The hotel industry here evolved around a managed model – partly due to the cost of operating in a smaller market – so today franchised hotels only make up around 20 per


Development cent of IHG’s portfolio in this region. Now that the market has matured we do see growing interest and we are certainly open to new franchising opportunities with the right long-term partners. What makes franchising attractive for owners is agility. Whereas under a management agreement IHG operates every element of the hotel on behalf of the owner, franchising provides owners who want to manage the hotel themselves with a light, agile model that simply makes the most of IHG’s strong brands and extensive marketing and distribution capabilities. Having said that, we never sign a franchisee and then leave them on their own. IHG offers a dedicated operations support team to franchised hotels, as well as providing global and national sales, guidance on revenue management, and even key talent sourcing where it makes sense – we see it as an important part of the IHG’s ‘Room to Grow’ approach for our people. Our strong hotel franchising model provides owners and investors in Australia with a reliable and profitable alternative to our equallysuccessful managed offering.

Which areas across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are in significant demand for the segment?

The Australian east coast continues to be a focus, in particular: Sydney, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Gold Coast and Tropical Far North Queensland. We also keep an eye on key regional satellite cities such as Wagga Wagga, Albury and Ballarat. In New Zealand, Auckland and Queenstown are the ones to watch, especially with pending changes to flight capacity, but we’d also have an interest in regional towns like Lake Taupo and New Plymouth.

What’s in the franchising development pipeline across the region for 2018?

Today we have eight franchise hotels open and we’ll be adding Holiday Inn Sydney St Marys in early 2018. Holiday Inn Express continues to gain momentum with our franchise partner Pro-invest Group. Together we’ve already opened the first three in Sydney Macquarie Park, Brisbane and Adelaide, and will open Newcastle in 2018, followed in the coming years by Melbourne Southbank and Little Collins, Queenstown and Auckland. We’ll also open Even Hotel Auckland, a first for the wellbeing brand in Australasia, in 2020. Outside of that, we are open to franchising any of our brands in strategically important locations, providing it is with the right long-term partner.

NEXT STORY GROUP Tushar Raniga Area Vice President, Business Development Why does franchising continue to be popular at present?

ongoing assistance, guidance and supervision provides these operators with the skills that they typically would not receive by being in business on their own.

Which areas across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are in significant demand for the segment?

Across the Oceania region areas of demand in the segment include more hotels in the mid to upper midscale segment. In New Zealand, the CBD and fringe CBD locations are very popular with local operators. Whilst across the Pacific region, capital cities tend to be the focus because operators need to go where the infrastructure is established. Location is important and for the value driven business traveller who demands convenience in areas such as a Capital city, CBD fringe locations or in areas near key transport hubs and major city corridors will meet the demand. Regional demand in cities such as Albury and Wagga Wagga in NSW, Geelong in Victoria and Cairns or Townville in Queensland are all areas of opportunity to meet new supply demand. With over 215 million room nights in regional Australia and strong accommodation demand from Asia in tourism and tourism investment, regional markets are worth considering. Regional tourism represents around 77 per cent of leisure and corporate equals around 52 per cent therefore regional markets are the key drivers.

What’s in the franchising development pipeline across the region for 2018?

At Next Hotels and Resorts, we have a growth strategy that will ensure we fill the gap in the mid to upper midscale markets. As a brand, we have a solid foundation of existing hotels that can support the brand awareness. With a strong network of hotels across the Oceania region, over the next five years Next Hotels and Resorts will continue to build strong relationships with owners. We are also introducing a new concept to franchise partners to enable them to benefit from a team of dynamic and committed professionals that are passionate about creating successful Franchisees. We understand how challenging developing a franchise can be and our dedicated franchising team will provide them with a supportive, personalised and caring relationship. We also believe that being part of a franchise system, along with driving volume to the hotel asset, it is critical for franchisees to be provided with clear brand guidelines, superior technical feedback on new development undertakings as well as property improvement plans and ultimately clear guidance on operating their assets. Holiday Inn Express Adelaide

The continual popularity and appeal of franchising is driven around new models or product offerings. In most cases people looking to go into business for the first time will consider a franchise model because they believe that a franchise model is a tried and tested model. This gives them a sense of security knowing that the franchisor has also got an invested interest in the brand. The ease of being provided with a product or service within a specified territory or at a specific location provides first time business operators with some comfort that there is less risk of failure. Most people going into a franchise arrangement understand from the terms and conditions, that they will be required to pay a royalty or service fee for the use of the franchisor’s identifying name or trademark. This factor is not a hindrance to most operators as it provides them with the confidence and backing of a proven concept and a brand with a good reputation. Having the backing of a franchisor and being offered a product, service and trademark, as well as the entire business concept is why franchising as a rule, continues to be popular amongst small business operators. With systems and support in place such as marketing strategy, operational standards, systems and formats, training, quality control and hotelmanagement.com.au 53


Development WYNDHAM HOTEL GROUP Matt Holmes Director of Development and Acquisitions - South East Asia and Pacific Rim Why does franchising continue to be popular at present?

Franchising allows people to become their own boss, but without the risk involved in setting up a business from scratch on their own. Franchising enables aspiring business owners to access a well-developed network of suppliers, business systems and structure, support and mentoring. Furthermore, new franchisees join a broad and experienced network of other franchisees who can provide guidance and advice to those embarking on the journey for the first time.

When hoteliers franchise with a global hotel brand, they receive instant recognition and familiarity with customers worldwide. Franchising can also boost a hotel’s performance while the hotel owner benefits from the expertise and support of a global leader. Franchising enables the owner to control their destiny, within the parameters of the brand, so it becomes a win-win for both parties. We offer our franchisees the tools and guidance necessary to run a successful hotel, from pre-opening support, to access to our powerful distribution and revenue management systems, training, marketing and more. The cost of using online travel agencies is ever increasing and franchising gives hoteliers a more cost efficient alternative by providing access to the brand’s direct booking channels. In addition, our franchisees have the opportunity to leverage our loyalty program which is a great mechanism to drive these lower cost direct bookings. Wyndham Rewards has been recognised several times as the most rewarding program in the industry.

Which areas across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are in significant demand for the segment?

Which areas across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are in significant demand for the segment?

QUEST APARTMENT HOTELS David Ridgeway General Manager - Franchise Operations Why does franchising continue to be popular at present?

There are certainly some markets and locations that share common themes; an underlying level of demand from corporates, a strong and diverse economic outlook and a range of amenities (e.g. cafes, restaurants, shops) that add to guests’ experience. Strong growth areas across the franchising segment in Australia include: Western Sydney: The investment in Western Sydney, including the second airport at Badgerys Creek, the expansion of Parramatta as a ‘second CBD’ for New South Wales and the relocation of several corporate headquarters makes this location one that will spur on further demand from the franchising segment. Canberra: The nation’s capital is enjoying a period of stronger economic performance with growth of 6.9 per cent in economic output on a year ago. Stronger infrastructure investment, better business outlook and the status of Canberra Airport as an international are indicators for increasing demand in the franchising sector. Regional markets: We have noticed significant demand and success for the franchise sector in areas such as Toowoomba and Griffith in Queensland, Nowra and Orange in New South Wales and Ballarat and Traralgon in Victoria. In New Zealand and the South Pacific the larger cities such as Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Suva and Nadi are still experiencing strong growth in the franchising sector as well as regional areas such as Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and Otago, which are popular with tourists and leisure travellers throughout the year.

What’s in the franchising development pipeline across the region for 2017-18?

With a strong pipeline of locations being explored for the next five years and beyond, we are planning to open between 6-10 franchised properties each year, which makes us the fastest growing hotel chain in Australia. We plan to open nine new properties in 2018 including: Quest Springfield (QLD), Quest Midland (WA), Quest Cannon Hill (QLD), Quest Penrith (NSW), Quest Epping (VIC), Quest Maribyrnong (VIC), Quest on Mends Street (WA), Quest Notting Hill (VIC) and Quest NewQuay (VIC). In New Zealand and Fiji we are looking to open 2-3 new properties per year across the next four years with opportunities being explored in Auckland, Christchurch and Nadi. We already have 3 new properties confirmed for 2018 and two for 2019. 54 HM The Business of Accommodation

New Zealand is going through a tourism boom. Our franchise presence is spread throughout the country but more concentrated in major cities like Auckland and Queenstown, where there is a well-documented shortage of inventory. We expect demand will be strong in those cities for the immediate future. We are actively examining opportunities in Fiji, where major international brands are popular among tourists, and we are also making moves in other island locations. We opened Ramada Resort Port Vila earlier this year, which gave us a presence in Vanuatu. In Australia, we are in discussions with potential franchisees in capital cities including Brisbane and Perth and are continuing to look at opportunities in other major centres.

What’s in the franchising development pipeline across the region for 2017-2018?

We are refreshing our select service Ramada Encore brand to better convey its unique benefits to hoteliers and travellers alike. This renewed vision and brand identity will be rolled out to our existing hotels and those due to come online next year. We are also looking at opportunities to expand our midscale and upscale brands, including Ramada, Tryp by Wyndham and Wyndham Garden. In that respect, New Zealand will be a key area of focus, with two Wyndham Garden properties in Auckland and Queenstown and a Ramada property in Auckland expected to open next year. We are set to strengthen our presence in Perth with the opening of Wyndham Lux Perth and are considering opportunities in other capital Australian cities and the Gold Coast, which continues to be a popular market. n

Quest’s growth has been phenomenal


Development

AN ACCORHOTELS PROMOTION

Mama Shelter Los Angeles

Mama Shelter GETTING TO KNOW

Hip and vibrant brand MAMA SHELTER is the brainchild of the Trigano family, co-founders of Club Med. In collaboration with Philippe Starck, they sought to provide a common ground, an urban refuge that is beautiful and modern, but more importantly warm, fun and happy. Mama knows what’s best for its guests.

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he first Mama Shelter opened in the up-and-coming 20th arrondissement of Paris in 2008. It was an instant success and set a new trend in the hospitality industry. Since then, Mama Shelter has expanded beyond France to open outposts in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro, and has become part of the AccorHotels network, with prospects to launch in Asia Pacific in the future. HM sat down with Benjamin and his brother Jeremie Trigano to find out more.

How much of a hospitality revolution was Mama Shelter when it was first launched? Mama broke many standards when it launched.

Mama is a common ground for people to meet and feel alive. We did several things to make this happen: we created one big area for people to interact, no more physical separation between the restaurant, pizzeria, bar, lounge, reception desk and stage for live events. The rooms came equipped with the best beds and sheets in the business, 100 per cent organic Mama amenities and an iMac in everyone room. Allowing people to connect for free online. We also offer all our movies for free, even a big porn selection. There’s also a photo booth where people can take photos, not to mention that all the rooms are equipped with masks, making for fun and wild pictures.

Having been so successful in developing Club Med as a very precise ‘formula’, Mama Shelter seems to be quite a departure because of its informality and laissez-faire attitude – what attracted you to the concept? We duplicated parts of Club Med’s magical formula - finding sites/locations for our guests to discover. Second, finding the most talented people to host our guests. We search for people who love to serve others, who are warm and welcoming capable of interacting with the guests without a scripted text.

The first Mama Shelter in Village Saint Blaise was the ‘template’ – how hard has it been to replicate that hotel in other locations, particularly out of France?

Mama loves to travel the world. Mama’s broad appeal is such that we believe Mama can settle anywhere as long as Mama respects the local culture. When we opened Los Angeles and Rio di Janeiro we did not do a copy/paste of our existing French properties. We really adapted the design and atmosphere to the local tastes. That is the key to success and that is why all Mama are unique and authentic.

Mama Shelter has expanded to the Americas, what are the prospects for introducing the brand to Asia and Australia?

We are working on several projects in the Asia Pacific region. Mama Bangkok should see the light of day at the end of 2018 in the buzzing Sukhumvit district. We are also working on a project in beautiful Queenstown. We really would love to expand the brand in all major cities in the region.

How does partnering with AccorHotels benefit the brand?

Accor brings a huge network of developers and customers. They’ve been extremely respectful of maintaining and fostering Mama’s youthful and irreverent approach. The success of this partnership is that each party knows its strengths and weaknesses. Jeremie and Benjamin Trigano

Conviviality and feeling comfortable is at the heart of the Mama Shelter philosophy – how do you achieve these sorts of goals?

Before anything else, what is key to Mama is that we sell happiness. Our team embodies that spirit, the way we design our places, our menus, everything. While every boutique hotel focuses on selling a cool attitude and design, we focus on selling happiness and fun.

Who would you say are the main customers of Mama Shelter? Today, such a hotel style would target millennials, but is your customer base wider? We didn’t set Mama to target a specific demographic. Mama is for everyone who wants to have a good time and have fun. In a hotel, the guest defines the vibe of the space and Mama wants a very diverse crowd because that’s what life should be, diverse.

hotelmanagement.com.au 55


Human Resources

LEADING LIGHTS How William Angliss Institute is leading the way with its industry mentoring program.

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entoring is a hot topic in the world of education. The William Angliss Institute 2017 Faculty of Higher Education Mentoring Program ran from April until October this year. The program, established to support students’ formal academic training by providing a link to the profession in a structured and tailored way, is now in its fourth year. Associate Dean Higher Education Operations Andrew Dolphin says, “We are grateful for the commitment of these mentors as this program enables our students to connect with our industry partners and learn even more about the industry they are interested in. “The program formally runs for eight months, however many mentors and mentees maintain an ongoing relationship after the program ends. The program is about personal and professional development, giving mentees the opportunity to broaden their knowledge on career options and gain career guidance from a mentor with professional experience. “They meet once at the launch and close events and are required to have one more face-to-face interaction during the eight months. They have an option to communicate weekly, fortnightly or monthly based on an agreement made between the two at the launch. This can be face-to-face, over email or a phone conversation. “Our mentors have included industry experts from Calibre Feasts, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Estelle by Scott Pickett, Melbourne Farmers Markets. The Langham Melbourne, Accor Hotels, Peter Rowland Catering and Ascott Limited. “As much as we can, we find a mentor specifically for each mentee based around what industry and career aspirations they have,” said Dolphin. The mentees in the program were selected based on their drive and determination, their enthusiasm for the industry and obvious desire to succeed. Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management student Brian Chong was teamed up with hotel industry expert and founder of Minett Consulting, Dean Minett. 56 HM The Business of Accommodation

Meeting fortnightly, Chong said some of the activities he did with his mentor included resume checks, interview techniques and helping to identify interests including clarifying future potential roles. “I learnt to be more confident and be bold. The thing I liked the best about the mentor program was being able to pick up a phone anytime and seek professional advice from Dean,” said Chong. Dean Minett said he was involved with the mentoring program because most young employees and students didn’t have the opportunity to seek feedback or have an experienced person to guide them. “The most satisfying part of the program has been seeing my mentee move from being uncertain and unclear as to direction to now being much more focussed on what they can do and how to go about it. Brian has become more confident and passionate about the possibilities in our industry. “In today’s fast-paced environment, many middle-management roles have disappeared from the hotel industry and staff are being promoted sometimes beyond their experience level at which point they either flounder and get fired or else burn out trying to cope with the pressure. “I think mentoring programs such as this one at William Angliss Institute are critical to helping young people learn from more experienced practitioners and have a sounding board for any challenges. They learn that they are not alone and can make contacts and networks to assist them,” said Minnett. n

LEADERSHIP PROGRAM ESSENTIALS

Forget about what you think you need when it comes to developing a leadership program for your organisation. Giovanna Lever, Founder of Sparrowly Group, says that the main thing to consider when you launch a leadership program is to speak to your people and ask them what they need. “There’s no one size fits all. You need to get a good grip on what the issues are. Everyone can give you feedback and it’s good to build engagement from the outset to get people’s buy in,” said Lever. It usually comes down to one of two things: technical skills and soft skills. You need to identify where the shortfall is and go from there. She also says that short-term leadership programs are just a stop gap. “I call it the Tony Robbins effect. It’s all high fives, green smoothies and egg white omelettes for the week afterward, and then it all falls over. It’s about what you do day-today that really makes an impact,” she said. “It’s all about the follow-up. Any leadership program should be followed up with oneon-one mentoring,” said Lever.


On the move SM

STEWART MANSON has been appointed as General Manager – Hotel, F&B and Convention Centre at the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters. Stewart joined IHG in 2011, and moves to Australia after four years in Papua New Guinea, most recently as the Hotel Manager of Crowne Plaza Port Moresby.

HM looks at some of the key industry appointments in Asia-Pacific. KIRRA STOTT has opened the brand new Holiday Inn Express Adelaide City Centre as Hotel Manager in August. Kirra has been with IHG since 2010, most recently as Rooms Division Manager at InterContinental Sydney.

KS MICHAEL FOSTER has been appointed as Hotel Manager at Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central. Michael was previously at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort since 2013.

JASON EPPS-EADES has been appointed Hotel Manager at Holiday Inn Queenstown Frankton Road. Jason joined this property during its rebranding to Holiday Inn at the end of 2016 and has been promoted to this role from Front Office Manager.

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MF DAVID ROSS has become General Manager at Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley, continuing his GM role with IHG following the conversion of the hotel from Sebel Hawkesbury Resort and Spa.

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STEVEN OAKLEY joined IHG as General Manager at Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise in August. Steven moves from Event Hospitality where he was most recently General Manager of QT Museum Wellington, New Zealand.

SO SAM SWAFFIELD was appointed as Hotel Manager at Kirkton Park Hunter Valley, one of IHG’s newest hotels in Australia, moving from his role as Operations Manager at Crowne Plaza Auckland.

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WINSTON GONG has been named General Manager of Holiday Inn Sydney St Marys, which is due to open early in 2018. Winston has been with IHG for over 20 years, including his most recent role as Executive Assistant Manager at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.

WG

NO.1 HOTEL MANAGEMENT SCHOOL IN ASIA PACIFIC & NO.3 WORLDWIDE DATA FROM TNS SURVEY 2017

bluemountains.edu.au The Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) courses are delivered by Torrens University Australia Ltd, ABN 99 154 937 005, RTO 41343, CRICOS 03389E.

hotelmanagement.com.au 57


Concierge Corner

MEET THE CONCIERGE:

Josh Blake HM sits down with Four Seasons Hotel Sydney Assistant Chief Concierge, JOSH BLAKE. Interview by Peter McBrearty Describe the path you have travelled to your current position at the Four Seasons Sydney.

Having returned from a gap year in London, I applied for a porter role at the Holiday Inn Darling Harbour. This is where I had my first taste of the Concierge world. Within a few months at Holiday Inn, I was promoted to Concierge Team Leader and after three years, relocated to Western Australia where I joined Hyatt Regency Perth. After being admitted to Les Clefs d’Or in 2013 and having achieved my goals in Perth, I followed my heart back to Sydney and was fortunate enough to be offered a position at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, where I have now been for more than three years.

Have you had a particular role model in your own career as a professional Concierge?

I have had three role models throughout my career: Justin Borg, who was my Director of Rooms in Perth; Jorge Sousa, my current Chief Concierge; and Yogesh Juneja, my previous Assistant Director of Rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney and current Director of Rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. Without the guidance of these amazing gentlemen, I would not be the person I am today.

Have you found any major differences between working as a Concierge in Perth and Sydney, and did you find the initial process of familiarising yourself with Sydney’s services and attractions a challenging one?

The main difference I have experienced between the two cities was the recognition of the role of a Concierge. Perth has no doubt changed a lot in years since my return to Sydney, however when I first arrived there, a Concierge was thought of as a porter and valet. Through the hard work of our members in Western Australia, businesses, guests and hotel management have recognised the importance of what a Concierge offers. Having been raised in Sydney, meeting new contacts, ‘re-learning’ the market and familiarising myself with local attractions didn’t take too long with the assistance of my Les Clefs d’Or family.

In Sydney there have recently been several members attracted to newly 58 HM The Business of Accommodation

opened properties, and the same is true of our other major cities, where new hotels are opening and under development. As a member of the Interview Committee, are you confident there are enough high quality Concierge being developed to potential membership level to cater to the needs of new and existing premium hotel properties around Australia?

With every function I attend, it is easy to see the future is secure for the up-and-coming Concierge. With our future member programs and guidance from existing members, I am extremely confident we will continue to cater to the needs of the many new and existing hotels in Sydney and the rest of Australia with a growing membership base.

A constant question asked of the professional hotel Concierge is what the impact has been on their day to day tasks of the internet and social media – have you found guests are doing their own research using these tools, and if so how does this affect your interaction with your guests and the services you are providing them? With the rise of smartphone ownership, Google and instant messaging function on the Four Seasons app, I have found a lot of our guests come prepared with questions and general research. With this technology, our role has become not only a source of knowledge but a filter to these enquiries, as well as adding a personal touch to all recommendations.

What is it that you ultimately enjoy most about your role as Concierge?

I enjoy meeting new people and continuing to learn about the city I love the most. Being a Concierge is a rewarding and often challenging job, and I would not change it for the world.

After a day spent describing Sydney’s many activities, attractions and dining options to your guests, where do you particularly enjoy heading yourself to relax and enjoy your own city?

Nothing beats jumping onto the Manly Ferry and enjoying the Harbour at a nice pace. Once there, I love visiting the Pantry or the Boathouse for a relaxing meal and a pint. n

Peter McBrearty, Les Clefs d’Or In October, Hilton Sydney played host to a cross section of Sydney’s Hotel and Tourism Industry at the Les Clefs d’Or Concierge and Hospitality Ball. The evening proved to be a wonderful opportunity for all of our industry associates to catch up, network a little, relax a lot – and to raise more than $10,000 for our NSW charity, St Anthony’s Family Care. The Hilton team once again more than rose to the challenge of making the staging of this major event look far more effortless than it must actually have been, and credit must also be paid to our primary organizers, Josh Blake of Four Seasons Sydney, Jonathan Fambart of Park Hyatt Sydney, Greg Hillard of Sydney Harbour Marriott, Ben Thomas of Hilton Sydney, Eugene Chang of The Westin Sydney and our industry representative David Cowper of Morris Media, all of whom devoted countless hours to making the Ball the success it ultimately was. The night may have been just a little bitter sweet though for the Hilton Sydney’s Chief Concierge Jason Aberin, as he announced two of his Les Clefs d’Or team will be moving on, with Lance Birkett taking up a position at Parkroyal Sydney, and Ben Thomas assuming the Chief Concierge position at the newly opening West Hotel with popular General Manager Jane Lyons, who well known to many of our members from her time at The Westin Sydney and Sheraton Towers Southgate in Melbourne, and who has now returned to Sydney after working with Langham Hotels in London and New York. We wish both Lance and Ben well in their new positions, and have no doubt that having already once reached the highest number of Les Clefs d’Or members at an Australian property on his Concierge Desk, Jason will waste no time at all in mentoring yet more of his promising staff to membership level to regain the crown. One ever more common topic of discussion in the Concierge field is what impact we are noticing with the progressive increase in our guests’ use of the ever increasing number of research tools available to them on the internet. In fact to a certain extent this has turned the initial interaction we have with guests requesting assistance from our Concierge members asking the guest what their areas of interest are, to our guests instigating the conversation by presenting the results of some of their own research and then asking a question we are now hearing more and more often, for example: “I’ve been looking at some options and wondered what your thoughts on them are”. Happily for our members, our properties, and of course for our guests – the continued desire on their part for an informed, impartial opinion, allows us to both to assist our guest with their needs, and at the same time instigate a relationship with them which personalizes their stay, and provides a service not available at other potential accommodation options. Peter McBrearty is President of Les Clefs d’Or Australia and Chief Concierge at The Langham, Melbourne


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