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Bajan Hoteliers Learning to Boost Business

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Brian Parker of Choice Hotels International.
Generating business during a recession is what acclaimed American hotel executives will share with Barbadian counterparts next week.

One of the Choice Hotels executives, Brian Parker, vice president of emerging markets and new business development, visits Barbados on Wednesday, June 16 to help local properties find ways of boosting business during the recessionary environment.

Parker, who this year was named to Savoy magazine's "Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America," arrives in Barbados next week with Jose Salvador Icaza, Director of Caribbean Franchise Development, to identify hotel owners and investors in Barbados interested in exploring affiliation or franchising opportunities for mid to upscale properties.

In partnership with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Parker and Icaza will deliver a punchy 15-minute "Power of Choice" presentation at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday, June 16, highlighting Choice's Ascend Collection membership program.

Unlike many competing arrangements, Ascend features state-of-the-art revenue management and marketing systems designed to help drive small hotel business in a struggling market.

Ascend Collection properties, found only in the Americas, are Historic, Boutique or Unique hotels demonstrating a commitment to service excellence.

"Expanding our footprint throughout the Caribbean is critical to our continued success in the region and Barbados especially is a highly desirable market for our brands," said Parker, who disclosed Choice was aiming to add two to three properties in Barbados to their system over the next 12 months.

Parker reasoned that since many independent hotels throughout Barbados and the Caribbean are struggling to generate higher occupancies and average daily room rates, Choice Hotels was offering prized access to a global customer base via its powerful reservations platform.

"These customers are willing to pay a premium for our brands and Ascend member hotels," said Icaza, noting that an affiliation with the Ascend collection of hotels offers the best of both worlds. "Hotels are allowed to remain independent and continue to deliver superior guest service, while receiving the benefits of a membership program with a leading lodging company. Such benefits include shepherding support in marketing, reservations, and operations."

In addition to benefiting from the US $175 million Choice spends annually on global marketing, Caribbean hotels also benefit from its Caribbean Co-Op Marketing fund which promotes Choice Caribbean hotels in the marketplace.

The Fortune 500 company executives hinted that because Choice currently does not have a presence in Barbados, a tremendous opportunity awaits the first properties that join the Choice system, the specifics of which will be unveiled at the luncheon on Wednesday.

Choice Hotels currently has nine hotels throughout the Caribbean region, representing 700 guestrooms in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Puerto Rico, and Turks and Caicos Islands, with five additional projects under development in Aruba, Dominica and Haiti. Comfort Suites, Comfort Inn, Quality, Clarion, and Ascend Collection brands are currently operational in the region.

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