A Word with GHN Advisory Board Member Lindsey Ueberroth
2019 Priorities and Growth Aspirations
Following our brand’s inspiring 50th anniversary celebration, 2019 is another exciting year at Preferred Hotels & Resorts as we mark the 15th anniversary of my family owning the company. As we look to the next phase in our legacy, I want to evolve the Preferred brand to focus on promoting travel, not just hotels. Now, more than ever, we are approaching our business and position in the industry with laser-sharp focus to inspire everyone to believe in travel and embrace the power travel has to make the world a better place. In fact, earlier this year, we launched a new company ideology with “Believe in Travel” as our brand promise, followed by eight statements that speak to why our company exists, our core values, and the value we deliver to all stakeholders – hoteliers, consumers, the travel trade, and hospitality professionals. Everything we do centers on a commitment to extend more valuable support to our hotel partners; offer new and enhanced benefits and exciting hotel options to continuously engage both our travel trade partners and I Prefer members; and promote travel and hospitality as a fulfilling, lifelong career path.
One major, ongoing priority is our investment in I Prefer, specifically our ability to provide greater flexibility and benefits for participating hotels and our 3 million I Prefer members globally. Earlier this year, we launched I Prefer Alliance to invite our partner independent hotels and regional hotel brands to extend full benefits of I Prefer Hotel Rewards to members of their distinctive guest benefit programs. In the coming months, we will be deploying an entirely new back-end loyalty management software that will enable participating hotels to create a unique set of benefits designed to attract more travelers who seek greater personalization. The new technology will also both leverage gamification techniques so our interactions with all travelers can be more playful, and introduce new ways for members to use their points with a greater emphasis on the entire hotel estate and local community services.
As residential-style accommodations continue to surge in popularity among all travel segments, the industry can also anticipate growth in our Preferred Residences collection, which we are aiming to reach 150 properties by the end of 2020. Currently representing 90 properties worldwide, the set-up of Preferred Residences has always been a unique alternative to other transient vacation models in its ability to combine the space, privacy, comfort, and flexibility of a home with the luxuries, convenience, quality assurance, and loyalty benefits of a luxury hotel stay, and we look forward to satisfying the growing needs of our guests by thoughtfully adding more residences in key markets.
Last year, after listening to our member hotels and identifying how we could better support their individual needs as independent entities, we introduced a new division called Preferred Hospitality Solutions. Preferred Hospitality Solutions provides dedicated support to current member hotels of Preferred that fall outside the scope of the traditional services provided within our brand contracts. This new division allows us to bolster their success by executing on short- and long-term projects such as providing hotel pre-opening services, guiding them through property transitions and management conversions, supporting renovations and refurbishments, handling PR and social media initiatives, and managing their revenue strategies, to name a few examples. The feedback has been outstanding, so we hired a new executive to oversee and grow the division earlier this year. I am confident that when you talk to me this time next year, there will be dozens of projects in the works and very happy hotel partners!
Finally, our development pipeline is as robust as ever, thanks to the booming interest that hotel owners, asset managers, and developers have in independent assets and Preferred’s proven track record in being the most valuable partner in the space. Our approach remains focused on strategically filling gaps across our global portfolio – looking at key destinations where we either have no or little presence and then identifying the hotel product that would align with the quality assurance standards of our brand. Target markets include key cities Europe such as Berlin, Frankfurt, and the south of France; Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, and Sri Lanka in Asia Pacific; South Africa and other areas of sub-Saharan Africa; and Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Uruguay in Latin America.