SILVER SPRING, USA -- With thousands of properties in its North America fold, the head of Choice Hotels International points to the Caribbean as a priority area for expansion.
Speaking to reporters at the recent Choice Hotels convention in Las Vegas, Stephen Joyce, president and CEO of Choice Hotels International said, "While we have still have room to grow, clearly our path for significant growth is internationally."
Europe and Brazil were seeing more Choice Hotels activity, "but the Caribbean is one of our primary targets because we view the region as an extension of what we're doing domestically."
And, the hospitality chain chief saw lots of reasons for expanding in the Caribbean: "It's the number one destination requested by our guests, so we see a great overlap with our product here -- our ability to generate customers, our massive scale and our distribution systems."
Joyce contends the growth of Choice Hotels, with its combined systems booking millions of room nights a year, would directly benefit the region through its ability "to drive customers into the Caribbean market."
With an online presence that garners a staggering number of hits a year, Choice Hotels, he added, can also boost promotion of the region. "The good thing is the Caribbean needs it. The Caribbean is a value that's not being communicated well to the rank and file customer out there."
Furthermore, offering more options in the Caribbean would also be advantageous for loyal Choice Hotels guests, Joyce posited: "It's a good combination because we're able to get our customers down there to the places they love for a value they perceive - and help out a lot of hotel owners at the same time."
Joyce, who has been at the helm of Choice for the past four years, assured Caribbean hoteliers the company is also interested in "smaller properties with 40, 50 rooms, lots of different room types. For most hotel companies, that drives them nuts. For Choice Hotels, that's what we specialize in."
The Choice Hotels president recognized the allure of smaller properties but asserted, "We see the need and the desire (for them) to move to a branded concept. So we think that's going to be a good, long-term proposition for us."
Choice Hotels is the franchisor for eight hotels in the Caribbean islands of The Bahamas, Curaçao, Grand Cayman and Puerto Rico. The company currently has projects under development in Anguilla, Dominica and Haiti and is in the final stages of negotiation to award a franchise to a hotel development in St Maarten in the Dutch West Indies.