Hotel group looks for local growth but not in property


The global InterContinental Hotels Group is evaluating growth opportunities in New Zealand but has no plans to invest in new properties, regional operations director William Sheppard says.

Instead, the company would continue to seek management arrangements with owners of existing and new buildings and operate them under its globally recognised brands InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Centra and Park Royal, Mr Sheppard said.
‘We have not identified any potential sites and those decisions – including if we go ahead with an expansion here — will be based on market demand piggy-backing on tourism growth,’ he said.
‘We would also match our properties to individual local markets and identify what class of hotel would best suit those markets. Some might not match the level of product we could bring in.’
The group, which operates 3300 hotels worldwide, owns only the five-star Wellington InterContinental in New Zealand and manages the Auckland and Christchurch Crowne Plazas, Queenstown Park Royal and Centras at Auckland Airport and Christchurch.
Melville Developments’ 192-room Wellington Holiday Inn due to open early 2005 would also be managed. The Rotorua Centra and Christchurch Holiday Inn are franchised.
‘We would like to have three more Holiday Inns, which we would manage and operate for a developer of a new property or conversion of an existing building to Holiday Inn standards and style,’ Mr Sheppard said.
‘We believe there are opportunities for a Crowne Plaza in Queenstown – with its tourism growth and a gap in the four-star market one could work quite well there. There is also room in Auckland for a three-star globally branded property such as Holiday Inn.
‘About 40% of New Zealand tourism is in-bound, where globally branded products have an advantage and generally deliver a premium to the markets in which they operate. Holiday Inn does 20% better than local competitors because of the power global branding brings.’
Mr Sheppard said InterContinental was researching travel and tourism statistics and competitive information to find what level of hotel would best suit specific New Zealand regions.
‘And we would always identify a partner before making a call to go into an area,’ he said. InterContinental-branded hotels provide 1600 rooms in New Zealand and last year operated at 70-75% occupancy. The UK-based company is listed on the London and New York Stock Exchanges.
Regional sales and marketing director Andrew Loader said the chain co-operated with Tourism New Zealand and regional tourist offices to promote the country and regions as inbound visitor destinations.
‘Our global sales network takes initiatives to promote New Zealand as well as particular markets,’ Mr Loader said. ‘As an example, we are working closely with Positively Wellington to position the area as an incentive destination.
‘Queenstown is well established but Wellington, which is doing well as a domestic and corporate market with excellent branding, needs more overseas exposure. And we can help, particularly as a new and different destination for incentives. We believe Wellington can deliver.’

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