Duncan Berry is Chief Executive Officer for Choice Hotels Europe, the UK subsidiary of Choice Hotels International. He is responsible for overseeing the company’s franchise business development in the UK.
Choice Hotels International is one of the world’s largest hotel groups with more than 6,000 hotels globally and nearly 500 hotels across Europe, offering business and leisure travellers a full spectrum from premium economy to luxury hotels. Mr Berry is spearheading efforts to secure further third-party direct franchising agreements in order to grow the hotel property portfolio further in the UK.
Innovative technology is changing the way businesses everywhere are operating. In this video Duncan Berry discusses new technology in hospitality.
Innovative technology and business collaborations
Things are moving fast, you’re absolutely right. So, I mean I can share with you that in the US, by virtue of acknowledging that, they have recently partnered with Ford Motor Cars with an application that enables the guest to book hands free from their Ford car. So, you know, again it is that eye on the future, it is making sure that we’re in a situation that we can be keeping a pace, you know, with the demands of the consumers nowadays.
The Hospitality Channel will continue to discuss how innovative technology is used in the industry. Look out for the next 10 industry experts to be announced as part of Hospitality250.
Distribution is vital. I think it’s one that we’ve seen, particularly with the OTA’s and the theme of today’s conference, increase immeasurably over a relatively short period of time. And I think it’s that element where hotel companies have rather been perhaps caught on the back foot and had to catch up with that. So, from our perspective there’s needed to be reaction to it. We do that through investment in terms of tools that we help to ensure both our franchisees are aptly equipped to react to those movements in technology, as well as our guests. To make sure that it gives them an opportunity to be booking easily and conveniently for them. There’s no doubt that we’ve seen booking revenues shorten. You know, 60% for example, of our bookings happen within a 24 hour period so we need to be able to react to that and provide guests with tools with which they can deal with which our investment has been focussed on the last 5 to 7 years, to bring that out. Choice Hotels led the way with the first iPhone app back in 2009, so you know, we’re mindful of wanting to keep the pace with the technology as it’s being developed elsewhere. Um, and I think we’re keen to make sure that from a franchisee point of view, they're recognised for them that their costs – the lowest cost to channel is to have guests book directly through our own web site.
You know, a situation where we can get the data and actually become more human in approach when retailing online which the OTA’s are – it’s being able to be more, ensuring that we can use a human element of it as well. So it’s ensuring when the guest comes to the hotel they are aware of the brand standards for example, of the hotels, what they can expect by virtue of their stay at any of the budget, mid range, 4 star properties and that's going to be a loyalty form. That's going to bring loyalty in – we’ve got a very strong loyalty programme across the globe. 20 million Choice Privileges members, 300,000 in Europe and it’s that which we see as being able to help the hotels in the situation – we know that over the last 2 years there is a premium – um, that Choice Privileges guests bring to our hotels. They premium is twice as much as non-CP members in terms of revenue, so that's a huge upside for the hotels by virtue of being able to lock in to that guest’s loyalty. And I think that's – the more that we’re able to do that and direct them to book, not only through our channel which gets them the best rates, but also the hotels get the lowest cost in terms of reservation because there's no cost. Um, and then you’re in the situation where they lock in that guest by virtue of the service, the human element of the service that they’re able to give.