Guoman Hotels has been rebranded as glh., a new company with global ambitions which is set to launch three new brands over the next 12 months.
The name Guoman, which until now has been the luxury brand of the company alongside the Thistle four-star brand, will disappear. A new luxury brand is to be launched next month, while two other brands for the upper four star and select service markets will be announced later in the year. The Thistle name is expected to continue in some form.
Former banker and marketing executive Mike DeNoma, who was appointed chief executive of Guoman Hotels in August 2012, told Caterer and Hotelkeeper that his arrival from outside the industry had enabled him to review the company with fresh eyes and shake up the way it operates.
As well as undertaking a restructure of its brands, he is also focusing on the growth of the company which will include the opening of hotels in 100 major cities around the world over the next 10 years, as well as offering a more flexible agreement with hotel owners and "an entrepreneurial approach" to general management.
While DeNoma, a US citizen who has previously chairman and chief executive of Chinatrust Commercial Bank, would not confirm the number of hotels glh. hopes to open, he said that there was an opportunity to launch one luxury hotel in every identified city alongside "several" of the other two brands.
Growth of glh. is expected to take place via management agreements with property owners who will be offered deals which are shorter than the industry norm of 20-25 years.
"Currently the risk is balanced in favour of the brand companies," said DeNoma. "We will offer something which will be much more attractive for the owners."
The future operation of all existing and future glh. hotels will see greater autonomy being given to the general managers and newly appointed value centre general managers across every property, who after intensive training in revenue management skills will contribute towards driving up guest satisfaction and profit across the whole business.
The 1,019-bedroom Cumberland hotel, for instance, now has four value centre general managers - one responsible for meetings and events and three who each look after around 330 bedrooms. Using newly acquired skills in combating the competition from online travel agents, they are each responsible for their own profit centres.
The concept has already been trialled at some of the company's hotels, with results which DeNoma described as "exceptional".
"The hospitality is an industry which greatly underuses the human potential," said DeNoma. "Why don't we train and attract the best graduates? Instead of just appointing students who have studied hospitality, we should be looking at recruiting mathematicians, statisticians and software engineers. These are the kind of people who within two to three years could have responsibility for a significant profit and loss account."
glh. is a subsidiary of Singaporean-based company, GuccoLeisure.