One of the world's largest hotel franchisors sees the Caribbean as a huge opportunity while some hotel companies, twisting and turning in the global business downturn, shy away from the region.
Stephen P. Joyce, president and chief executive officer of Choice Hotels International, Inc., is bullish about the Caribbean and believes a large number of independent hotels could benefit from what Choice Hotels has to offer.
Presenting options for success during sluggish economies, he pointed to the extensive mid-range offerings of Choice Hotels and, at the higher end, its popular Ascend Collection membership program.
Over a career in the lodging industry spanning nearly three decades, Joyce has logged a track record of developing and growing some of the best-known hotel brands in markets worldwide. He pointed to the Ascend Collection membership program which he contended offered potential Caribbean member hotels the benefit of being a part of a big organization without abandoning their identities.
"It's the best of both worlds," said Joyce, who asserted that hotels can take advantage of the costs of Choice Hotels as well as its technology platform which hooks up hotels to huge worldwide distribution channels to help drive visitors to their doors.
Joyce, who has led the company on an impressive and focused growth strategy since 2008, said Choice Hotels was particularly keen about the Caribbean due to strong customer demand for the region: "We think our brands carry well (in the region), we know our customers want to go there, and we see an opportunity particularly with the Ascend Collection membership program because of the large number of unbranded hotels."
Ascend Collection is not a traditional franchise concept. Designed for Historic, Boutique or Unique hotels, Ascend Collection member hotels retain their independence, authenticity and superior service while connecting to a powerful global reservations system.
Over the past three years, Joyce's leadership has resulted not just in greater distribution and growth, but a higher level of focus on customer service. "We have the component of a very strong growth vehicle, but it is now matched with good brand strategies that deliver value to the consumer - not only are we good value but we also are a great place to stay," he said.
Joyce, an active member of the lodging industry and business community, serves on a variety of boards and community organizations. Most notably he is the national chairman of the US Travel Association and also holds leadership roles with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) as chair of its Multicultural Diversity Advisory Council. He is a former Marriott executive vice president.