04 Nov 2016
Words ARRA Accommodation Group
Referral Power to Accommodate Diverse Traveller Needs
Referral chains date back almost to the origin of motels themselves, to 1930s USA. Independent motel owners banded together to promote each other’s properties, provided certain standards for lodgings were met. In modern-day Australia and New Zealand, the ongoing strength of the ARRA Accommodation Group shows such strategic alliances are perhaps more relevant and vital than ever.
The ARRA Accommodation Group, which covers close to 180 properties under the Budget Motels, Orbit Inns and Paragon Hotels brands, was formed in 2009. But its heritage stretches back almost four decades, built on a name long recognised and respected in Australia’s accommodation industry landscape.
After a visit to the United States in 1978, a group of Canberra businessmen saw a need to establish a motel chain in Australia similar in concept to America’s Motel 6, which was a household name synonymous with good-value lodgings.
They built ‘Motel 7’ in suburban Narrabundah, and it became the inaugural member of the Budget Motel Referral Service Association – a non-profit co-operative run by members, for members. The basic philosophy was to offer clean, comfortable and affordable accommodation to the Australian market.
The Budget Motel Chain grew steadily over the years, expanding to all states and territories. In 1991, New Zealand motels were invited to join, and membership there grew to more than 70 properties.
Independent Budget Motel Chain members benefitted from the ‘strength in numbers’ model that gave them large-scale marketing power and brand recognition, inclusion in a widely circulated accommodation directory, and access to operational and technological systems and advancements out of reach to the unaffiliated.
In 1998, the chain launched its own in-house ‘Budget Reservation System’. By 2003, they surpassed 50 editions of their Dollar Saving Accommodation Directory. And in 2006, a new web site allowed guests to easily search for accommodation, check tariffs and availability, and make secure, instantly confirmed bookings.
The next step on the group’s journey was to expand to cater for more diverse traveller needs. In February 2009, the new ARRA Accommodation Group trading name was launched, extending the network to add 31/2-star and 4-star+ options for guests.
While Budget Motels continued to thrive in the ‘affordable comfort’ space, the new additions were mid-tier Orbit Inns, offering larger rooms and additional luxuries, and top-tier Paragon Hotels, boasting stylish, high quality accommodation ideal for the corporate market and more discerning travellers.
“During its 37 years, the Budget Motel Chain earned credibility in the accommodation industry as being a reputable, reliable and financially sound motel referral chain,” said ARRA Accommodation Group manager, David McCall.
“Our Budget Motel brand continues to receive great support from value-conscious travellers, especially those in the over 50s age group who consistently use our member properties.
“Since the expansion of the Budget Motel Chain to become ARRA Accommodation Group, we are the only referral group that satisfies all types of travellers, from the budget-conscious to executive level,” he said.
All motels in the group are independently owned and operated, and are provided with excellent support from ARRA’s head office staff.
“Our motels are found in the smallest country towns through to the largest cities,” David explained. “Many smaller family-run operations are found across regional areas in Australia and New Zealand, but large properties in metropolitan areas also see many benefits of membership.
“ARRA is arguably the lowest cost referral chain in Australia. For an independent motelier to market their motel on a national and international scale equal to what is offered to a member of the ARRA Accommodation Group would be extremely difficult.”
Of course, the traditional benefits endure – the use of internationally recognised and registered trademark brand names and logos, and inclusion in the annual ARRA Accommodation Directory with a vast circulation of 100,000.
There is also a highly effective loyalty program, by which regular guests with a Travel Saver Card achieve savings when they stay at any of the group’s properties. Through it, customers also tap into special offers on accommodation, attractions, food and beverage, activities, tours, travel insurance and more. A similar corporate program has great incentives for regular business travellers.
But, in today’s increasingly sophisticated and connected market, keeping up with the latest technologies is a chief ARRA priority. The ARRA websites allow member properties to participate in selling their own motel rooms 24-hours a day, with the knowledge bookings are securely paid and instantly confirmed for guests.
Members can also utilise the group’s channel manager, UseROSS, allowing them to currently list inventory with ease on several other website portals, including Wotif.com, Booking.com, Expedia and Agoda.
Free2Chooz is the newest website released by ARRA. Any property connected to the UseROSS channel manager can list availability and rates for guests to book easily and securely.
“Free2Chooz fills the sorely needed position in the market of a low commission distribution site that will connect into the channel aggregators like TripAdvisor, Trivago, Hotels Combined and Google Hotels, meaning guests can receive cheaper prices by cutting out middle man expenses from the booking process,” David explained.
Another welcome innovation has been ARRA’s introduction of a ‘user pays’ system that has revolutionised the traditional membership model.
“Constant innovation ensures our members remain at the forefront of the accommodation industry.” www.arrahotels.com.au