A RECIPROCAL DISTRIBUTION agreement among Magnuson Hotels of the U.S. and U.K., Louvre Hotels Group of France and Jin Jiang Hotels of China launched on April 6, expanding the global reach of Magnuson branded and independent hotels.
The deal was inked 21 months ago in Paris, so it’s apropos the start of the online booking platform took place during the International Hotel Technology Forum in Disneyland Paris.
Tom Magnuson, CEO of Magnuson Hotels, said the first phase of the distribution agreement puts all 1,000 of Magnuson’s branded and independent hotels and 100 of Louvre’s branded properties on www.magnusonhotels.com, connecting travelers to 50 countries.
The platform will continue to expand over the next several months, adding hundreds of more hotels and more countries. “This is our soft launch,” Magnuson said from Paris today. “We will be bringing on more hotels throughout the rest of this year, the entire Louvre inventory plus Jin Jiang hotels.”
His team has been tracking consumer response to the launch “all night long,” he said, noting a 63.8 conversion increase over the day before.
Magnuson Hotels has nearly 900 independent hotels under its soft brand and more than 100 franchised properties under the flags Magnuson Grand, Magnuson Hotel and M Star Hotel. Asian Americans make up 80 percent of Magnuson Hotels’ portfolio of owners in the U.S.
In all, the platform will connect travelers to 8,000 hotels or 800,000 rooms across hundreds of countries. The global alliance nears the Marriott/Starwood offering of 1 million rooms, noted Magnuson.
He expects the alliance to attract more franchisees to Magnuson brands as well as independent hotels. The agreement, he said, “answers the question ‘How can an independent hotel, branded or not, compete with the likes of what is coming at them from large corporate entities like Marriott, which is its own force.
“Our original intention with the alliance is to give the power of the biggest entities to the smallest guy.”
The program will grow organically at first by optimizing search engines beginning with Google, Magnuson said.
Once the rollout is completed, the alliance will give customers access to Jin Jiang hotels in Asia, Europe and North America. Louvre Hotels has a major presence in Europe, Asia, Latin America and increasingly in Africa, while Magnuson Hotels is established throughout the U.S., the U.K., Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Canada. Jin Jiang International Holdings Ltd. is the major shareholder of Louvre Hotels Group.
Two loyalty marketing programs have also launched. Travelers belonging to Magnuson’s Star Club will receive a $50 Amazon gift card after 10 stays. They also will be qualified to join Jin Jiang Hotels’ 100 million loyalty program members.
“It was a vast undertaking to make the booking process so simple,” Magnuson said. Getting the platform launched took a lot longer than Magnuson had first envisioned. “It has been a struggle, but it was done with a lot of work by a lot of people.”
The website features destination markets in the U.S. and France and includes coast-to-coast U.S. road trips such as Route 66 and Interstate 90. The promotions feed into a joint marketing strategy Magnuson formed with U.S. franchisees.
Magnuson Hotels reimburses owners up to 20 percent of their franchise fees, depending on the property’s metrics. For example, a 100-room Magnuson Hotel with 65 percent occupancy and $75 ADR would generate a $20,000 contribution from Magnuson Hotels. The owner matches the amount and creates a $40,000 marketing account. Owners can decide how to spend the marketing revenue and most have opted for roadside billboards.
“When talking about distribution channels, in America the biggest distribution channels are its freeways,” Magnuson said. “It helps the individual hotel in its market while building exposure for the entire brand.”