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Comfort Inn, Quality, and Clarion brands in NZ

Media release
2 July 2004

Choice Hotels International launches Comfort Inn, Quality, and Clarion brands in New Zealand

Following its 2003 acquisition of Flag Choice Hotels, the world’s second largest hotel franchisor is implementing a major rebranding and growth strategy in New Zealand, with the promise of offering local operators the chance to tap into a huge international market and distribution system.

Choice Hotels International (operating in Australasia through its affiliate Flag Choice Hotels) has 5,000 properties in 47 countries, with another 490 properties under development. It operates some of the world’s most recognised brands, including Comfort Inn, Quality and Clarion.

David Mercer, Franchise Services Director for Flag Choice Hotels in New Zealand, said the company was launching those three brands in New Zealand.

“Comfort Inn, Quality and Clarion are well respected, globally recognised brands,” said Mr Mercer. “They offer a range of accommodation options, from mid market to full service, creating ‘Hotels for everyone, practically everywhere’.”
Sixteen properties were open for business on launch date, a number Mr Mercer said was expected to grow as more hotel owners recognised the benefits the group could offer.

“We’re looking for smart independent operators who want to grow,” he said. “For the hotel operator, we can provide access to new customers from around the world, as well as a proven franchise system that keeps costs down while bringing customers back time and time again.”

President and CEO, Brent Russell, said Flag Choice Hotels offers independent operators the best of both worlds: the ability to retain control of their destiny coupled with the benefits of being part of a successful global franchise organisation.

Those benefits include:

- Domestic and global sales and marketing.
- The Choice Privileges loyalty program, which has 30,000 members across Asia Pacific, plus over 3 million in North America.
- Strategic partners that generate business, including Qantas, Fly Buys and American Express.
- Property listing in 5 million Choice Hotels directories, distributed globally.
- A state of the art internet reservation booking engine.
- Support from a dedicated Franchise Service Director to help grow the business.
- A help desk service, also available to customers.
- Training courses.
- The distribution and marketing of one of the world’s most experienced accommodation groups.

One of the things that differentiated Flag Choice from other international chains was the degree of autonomy that franchise partners enjoy, he added. “Our business model is that of a pure franchise company. We don’t own or operate a single hotel ourselves. That means our success is entirely dependent on the success of our brands and the franchisees.

“Travellers, too, will benefit from knowing that wherever they are in New Zealand, they are never far from an internationally recognised hotel brand that offers consistent service levels across all its properties,” he said.

“For overseas visitors that’s always been a big deal, and it’s a prerequisite if you want bookings from the major wholesalers and travel groups. It’s also becoming more important to New Zealanders travelling in their own country, as they become more sophisticated and recognise the difference between average and excellent service.”

That is why all Comfort, Quality and Clarion properties offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. “Our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee means that if a guest is unhappy about any aspect of our service, we will put things right to the guest’s satisfaction or provide one night’s free accommodation. That keeps everyone focussed on guest satisfaction and providing the best possible service.

“New Zealand is a ‘hot’, popular destination and on the crest of a great tourism wave,” he added. “But inevitably, other countries’ turn will come, and when that happens the winners here will be those operators who can efficiently offer the best mix of local hospitality and internationally recognised brands with extensive sales and marketing efforts, coupled with excellent service for every guest.”

Comfort Inn, Quality and Clarion are registered trademarks of Choice Hotels International, Inc.

Released on behalf of Flag Choice Hotels by Grace Marketing.

Choice Hotels fact sheet

The group

- Established in the 1930s.
- Largest accommodation group in Asia/Pacific.
- Second largest accommodation group in the world.
- More than 330 properties in Asia/Pacific.
- 5,000 properties in 47 countries around the globe.
- Head office, Silver Spring, MD.
- Regional Headquarters (Flag Choice Hotels), Melbourne.

The brands

Comfort Inn. Everywhere you need us.
Comfort Inn is the name people think of for value and reliability when travelling. There are now 1,500 Comfort Inns, Hotels, Suites and Resorts worldwide, with a network of more than 160 in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. Comfort Inn properties provide competitive rates, with most having restaurants, swimming pools and meeting rooms.

Quality. The name you can trust.
Quality Inns, Hotels, Suites and Resorts have been trusted around the world for more than 60 years, offering a memorable experience of full-service and superior facilities. Quality offers licensed restaurants, professional business services and recreational facilities coupled with exceptional value for the business and leisure traveller. Mainly situated in capital cities, major regional centres and resort locations.

Clarion. First Class, Full-Service.
Clarion Hotels, Suites and Resorts are aimed at those looking for first class accommodation where attention to detail is paramount. All properties offer exceptional service and facilities for business and leisure travellers. Over 150 locations in 15 countries.

Choice Privileges (International Loyalty Programme)

Choice Privileges allows members to earn points each time they stay at a Flag Choice property. Points can then be redeemed for free nights or for an allocation of points to the Qantas Frequent Flyer account.

Other exclusive benefits include:
- 30,000 members in Asia Pacific and over 2 million in North America.
- Earn points faster - earn a free night in as little as 12 nights.
- Special Room Rate.
- Complimentary Room Upgrade (subject to availability).
- Partner stays free (accommodation only).
- Priority Reservations 0800 779 191 (New Zealand).
- Express Check-in.
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
- Special Offers.
- Worldwide benefits.

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

All Flag Choice properties guarantee total guest satisfaction. If a guest is not satisfied with their accommodation or the service provided, Flag Choice guarantees that the problem will be corrected to the guest’s satisfaction or a credit of up to one night's room charge will be provided.

The 100% Satisfaction Guarantee Program operates at all properties within the Flag Choice Hotels Group in the Asia Pacific region.

Strategic partnerships
American Express
National Car Rental
Fly Buys

Firsts (note: Choice Hotels became an international brand in early 1980s. The firsts prior to that date apply to the USA only.)

1940 First to inspect member properties for standards.

1941 First to provide travel directories.

1954 First to offer 24-hour desk service, telephones in rooms and swimming pools.

1963 First to guarantee reservations.

1970 First to offer toll-free reservations.

1983 First to develop a global marketing/reservations system linking reservations centres in US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany and Japan with airline reservations systems and travel agents to create one global marketing network.

1995 First to provide "real-time" access to reservation system via web.

1996 Introduced the Automated Travel Management system, the first commission system that expedites travel agent payments, provides tracking and instant answers for inquiries.

1997 First Internet site devoted to travel agents.

2000 First to offer wireless reservations via handheld computers.


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