Choice Hotels, one of the largest Hotel groups globally, operating four hotel brands in more than 35 countries has found new market for its hospitality business expansion. The group conducted independent market study on tourism development and strategy in Georgia and identified the country as a potentially interesting market for their hotel brands.
According to Mako Abashidze, Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), Omega Group, one of the Founder Members of BGCC, is in the process of the negotiation with the Choice Hotels on two potential projects in Tbilisi and Batumi. “The Honorary Chairman of the BGCC, Zaza Okuashvili shall continue works on this direction to finalize the details,” Abashidze told Property Georgia.
“We are currently in an evaluation stage. I tend to say that there is certain saturation in Tbilisi in the 5-star segments which is typical for an emerging market. The midmarket and budget segment is not that well represented by branded hotels in Tbilisi; this leaves opportunities for our Comfort and Quality Brands. For quite a number of very nice boutique hotels our Soft Brand Ascend could be an option; it leaves a lot of freedom to the operator while connecting his hotel to a global distribution platform,” Georg Schlegel, Managing Director of Choice Hotels, told Property Georgia. “For the leisure market in Georgia we are looking mainly for our Clarion and Quality Brand,” he added.
With the assistance provided by BGCC, Choice Hotels conducted an official business visit to Georgia on January 19-20. “The visit was very productive – during two days Mr. Georg Schlegel and Mr.Max Cergneux, Senior Director of Choice Hotels, met all market leader companies’ representatives and viewed interesting sites and buildings,” said the Director of BGCC. “I would like to mention the great support from Lika Kardava, founder of the Property Georgia. Lika helped us to identify and arrange very interesting and fruitful meetings with the market leader companies,” she added.
“I personally know Georgia for many years and I have signed the franchise agreement with the Adjara Group for the Holiday Inn many years ago. Georgia did not appear on the agenda for a couple of years but in the last 24 months we do see a lot of activity and increasing visitor numbers in Georgia, this is a significant fact that brought the country under the international groups radars. Furthermore, we have signed multiple franchise agreements in Turkey, Greece and Austria therefore Georgia is a natural opportunity to look at when expanding in the area” stated Schlegel.
Managing Director of Choice Hotels said they find quite a number of investors capable of financing hotel developments either from their cash flow or with bank financing: “As well we do believe that the governmental incentives for establishing franchise businesses in secondary cities are an interesting support by a government. Not a lot of countries do offer incentive in general; it very much depends on individual country strategies.”
Choice Hotels continues working closely with the BGCC. “They have done a great job introducing us to reliable potential partners! They were a major driver raising our interest. Honestly speaking, when you have to develop Europe, Georgia is simply too small to raise immediate interest and you would push it back priority-wise as there are larger countries in Europe where we are not yet present. We are of course open to work with other chambers as well,” claimed Schlegel.
As the Managing Director of Choice Hotels noted, in the long run, they would anticipate opportunities for 20 – 30 hotels in Georgia. In his words, currently, the number of hotels rooms per 1000 inhabitants in Georgia is very low compared to other countries. “Therefore, we do see room to move” Schlegel declared. BGCC Director also confirms Choice Hotels’ is here to stay. “They have long term business plans in Georgia.“ All four brands- luxury five star hotels as well as four and five star hotels will be considered for the country,” she stated and added that starting admin preparation works in few months, at BGCC they hope to reach finalized agreements by the end of this year.
About Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels group has been one of the leading hotel brands since 1941, and is currently the second largest hotel group in the world. Choice Hotel Group is operating under the following four brand names: Ascend Collection – 5* (five stars); Clarion – 4* (four stars); Quality – 4* (four stars); Comfort Inn – 3* (three stars).
Choice Hotels currently operates 6400 hotels in more than 35 countries, including United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Turkey, and others.
BGCC is a leading business organization, which was founded by Lord Godfrey Cromwell and Ms. Mako Abashidze in March 2007. It is a non-political trade body to facilitate business growth and contacts at all levels between UK and Georgia.