Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) is celebrating its tenth anniversary at this year's ITB Berlin. Additionally, GHA is announcing two new members during ITB, Thon Hotels and GLO Hotels from Norway and Finland respectively, as well as the launch of Ultratravel Collection, a new joint venture, aimed at attracting more “ultra-luxury” brands into the broader alliance family.
GHA members gathered to celebrate the anniversary at a gala customer event at Hotel Adlon Kempinski, where the creation of the alliance was first announced exactly ten years ago.
Of the original four founding brands, Kempinski, Rydges & Pan Pacific are still members. Wyndham was replaced by Omni in 2006. They have been joined by another 19 brands in the intervening years. GHA also has hotel technology company MICROS as a partner and shareholder.
Chris Hartley, who has been CEO of GHA from day one, is leading the celebrations in Berlin.
“Few people thought we would survive more than a couple of years, which is typical of cross-brand partnerships in our industry," Hartley said. "However, we had a clear financial objective in mind, which was offering affordable distribution and technology to independent brands. Only once we had the MICROS technology platform in place, did we move ahead with offering consumer-facing products and services, knowing we had the ability to recognise customers across all of our brands. We now have a loyalty programme, GHA Discovery, with 4 million members who drive over $1 billion in annual revenue, as well as preferred partner status with many of the travel industry’s biggest suppliers. So whereas ten years ago, it was more about cost efficiency through leveraged buying, we are now able to offer independent brands the ability to genuinely compete for market share with the mega-chains. That is good for the independent hotel sector and that is good for customers who often prefer a more local experience when they travel.”
GHA chairman and Omni Hotels president Mike Deitemeyer said, "Ten years ago, being a relatively small brand meant fighting at every street corner for recognition. We had limited international sales reach and our loyalty programme only offered hotels in North America,” explained Deitemeyer. “Today, Omni is part of a global network which means our share of international business is growing, our brand is gaining recognition in new markets, our customers are welcomed and rewarded in hotels around the world, and we are achieving all of that with a lower cost base.”
“There are more and more independent brands, and we are the only serious alliance operating in this space," said Deitemeyer. "We now have many independent hotel owners that are considering GHA membership as an alternative to full-scale management contracts, and that is a trend that we only see increasing.”