By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
MONTREAL — Choice Hotels Canada made strides in implementing its new brand positioning at its fall conference, themed “Orchestrating the Future,” held at Montreal's Omni hotel today.
The new brand positioning was announced at the Choice Hotels International conference last May. Specifically, Choice Hotels wants to make guests and associates feel welcome, wanted and respected by going above and beyond to treat them well.
Among other elements, the new positioning includes visuals, like the new logo which subtly incorporates the C and H in Choice Hotels, new photography including a library of professional photos taken specifically for Choice, and suggestions regarding a new “brand voice” that assists hotel staff in addressing guests at key touch points and responding to complaints.
Victoria Rivers, PR manager at Choice Hotels Canada, gave delegates some examples of how to implement the new brand voice, noting that it is connective, clear and confident and active rather than passive. The goal is to make a quick emotional connection with the guest. For example, instead of telling the guest that the staff is there to help them and then outlining some of the hotel benefits, the new voice mentions benefits (such as waffles) right up front. When addressing guest complaints, Rivers suggests bold, empathetic statements like, “If you're not happy, we're not happy,” and “Nobody's perfect.” These statements also admit weakness, showing your human side.
Numbers trending higher
Choice Hotels Canada managing director Brian Leon kicked off the conference by offering some statistics on performance. The company now has 321 properties with 26,000 rooms, and a record-setting 22 new entries to the system expected this year. More important than the quantity of assets is their quality. Choice has added 80 hotels in five years. Seven of the top 10 performers in terms of likelihood to recommend (LTR) are from this group of new hotels.
The company will have seven new builds this year, and is making progress on its new Quality prototype, which Leon describes as “leading edge in terms of optimizing operational costs and ROI.”
The company doubled the size of its Ascend portfolio, adding six properties in the last 18 months.
Award winning Choice hotels
The following properties were presented with awards today at the conference luncheon.
Best new entry, economy — Econolodge, Taber, Alta.
Best new entry, conversion, mid-market — Quality Inn, Moncton, N.B.
Best new build entry, mid-market — Comfort Inn & Suites, Calgary Airport
Best new entry, Ascend Hotel Collection — St. James Hotel, Toronto
Developer of the Year — Billy Coles, president, CCR Investments Ltd.
The case for global sales
TIm Oldfield, former managing director of Choice Hotels Canada who recently joined Choice Hotels International (CHI) as vice-president Global Sales, explained the advantages of integrating Canadian sales into those of CHI.
Oldfield noted that Canada can now take advantage of the horsepower, fire-power, size, scope and scale of CHI's sales operations. Canada now has access to 105 people across North America, and much more technical expertise than before. “Selling has changed, buying decisions have globalized and technology now fuels performance,” he noted.
“The people we want to sell to are global and we need to respond appropriately to that,” Oldfield said.