Apartment hotel chain Quest has revealed a 200-hotel target for 2030. It currently has eight hotels under construction, another 26 with leases signed or under negotiation and its strongest pipeline yet.
David Mansfield, Quest managing director, told Franchise Executives there’s increased interest in the brand, particularly from corporate individuals.
“We’re seeing highly qualified business entrepreneurs wanting to invest in Quest. Our problem now is disappointing people who went through the panel selection and put in bids.
“We want to grow – we have 122 properties now, we want to grow by 2030 to have 200 properties open or in negotiation. I believe we’re on track.”
Mansfield is assuming the business will not have to debrand any properties, having improved its support system. Quest closed 16 hotel sites during the pandemic because they were not ‘fit for purpose’ he said.
“We have a strong renovation focus to assist owners to bring up properties to customer expectations. We will support business owners to renovate, and exit when they need to.”
Quest franchisee support has led to improved business
Mansfield revealed 92 per cent of franchisees are making money, a substantially higher percentage than pre-Covid.
He said the turnaround is due to the franchisor strengthening franchisee support and a brand realignment during the pandemic. As a consequence, franchisees are better engaged.
“We had the opportunities to be better, to consider how do we do what’s right from a franchisee’s view. We’ve been steadfast in supporting franchisees and they are now making record money.
“The results speak volumes. Because we did what we needed to do during the pandemic, our business owners have seen that, and they are now more invested in their business.”
Brand development broadens the focus for customers, and franchisees
It was franchisees who came up with Quest’s new belief statement “Our brand’s for everybody’. This reflects the broader reach the brand is aiming for with both customers and franchisees.
“It’s a brand for all Australians,” said Mansfield. “It’s about being real, having gender diversity and healthy working environments.”
Quest was recently ranked number 18 in the Best Place to Work listing for firms with 100 or fewer employees.
For the Quest 200-hotel target to be achieved in the next eight years, finding franchisees is crucial.
The hotel chain has upended its greenfield site strategy, now extending new property opportunities to external applicants, not just existing franchisees.
Mansfield was clear that as a structured process of selection was already in place, it was logical to open up the opportunities.
“If the selection process is structured well, risk adjusted and diligent why not open up to the outside network? We’ve communicated that and now we’re seeing highly-qualified business entrepreneurs wanting to invest in Quest.”
The new brand focus switches up the branding to appeal to guests more diverse than the typical customer profile of a white male in a suit with a briefcase.
“Our purpose is to make corporate stay easy, that won’t change. But we have different cultures and business travel is done differently now,” said Mansfield.