Choice Bets on New GRS to Edge Out the Competition

ROCKVILLE, MD—The M&A activity in recent years has one common through line: Everyone is looking for scale, in large part to help beef up their distribution strength. But there are many tools at hotel companies’ disposal for a winning distribution and revenue management strategy, and technology built for today’s consumer is one of them. For Choice Hotels International Inc., a new central reservation system (CRS) was a must.

It’s called ChoiceEdge, and the global reservation system (GRS) supports more than 6,500 Choice hotel properties globally. “ChoiceEdge is the industry’s first new global reservation system from a hotel company in over 30 years,” said Brian Kirkland, chief technology officer, Choice Hotels International.

Go to any hotel technology conference and you’ll hear a common refrain from the experts: The legacy CRS systems aren’t equipped to handle today’s demand. Kirkland is no exception.

“The hotel industry’s aging technology infrastructure is not designed to handle the quantity of transactions we see today in the digital space, as much of it was created before the internet even existed,” he said. “Today’s world is becoming increasingly connected and consumer behavior is rapidly evolving and driving an unprecedented amount of volume to digital channels. There’s no sign of this slowing and the hotel industry’s decades-old reservation systems do not have the ability to support these demands.”

For Choice, the solution was clear: embark on a transformation project over the last few years to replace the company’s reservation system with a new state-of-the art tool.

“It’s named ChoiceEdge because we knew that this system would give us the edge to stay ahead of our competition and deliver for franchisees and guests,” Kirkland said of the largest technology project in the company’s 79-year history. “It is bold and transformative for the industry, given the explosion of growth in shopping requests over the last decade. Digital travel sales worldwide are projected to grow from $565 billion in 2016 to $756 billion in 2019. ChoiceEdge’s state-of-the-art design gives Choice the flexibility, scale and speed-to-market to adapt as technology evolves, customer needs change and the company continues its growth. This advanced technology helps Choice and our franchisees be smarter and faster with launching new capabilities in the marketplace for any duration, and supports more than just hotel reservations.”

ChoiceEdge was designed and built with a modular, service-based approach, which Kirkland said “enables speed to market for new capabilities and accelerated onboarding of partners.” The system connects with all major channel partners and several property management solutions, and has the capability to rapidly add partners and property management solutions, as well as web and mobile channels.

The platform manages all distribution for Choice, optimizing rate, inventory, availability, shopping, booking and reservations for its website, mobile apps and third-party distribution partners. Features include cloud-based scalability, stability and performance delivered through a “reservation-as-a-service” model; preconfigured, state-of-the-art connectivity with online travel agents, global distribution systems and property management systems; and the capability to add selling disparate inventory types, including hotel rooms, meeting rooms, vacation rentals and package offerings—or any space for any duration.

“Moving our systems into one comprehensive, service-based platform allows Choice to better support our corporate strategies for distribution, alternate growth, expansion into international markets, mobile development and more,” Kirkland said. “With ChoiceEdge, we are better aligned, more nimble and able to respond to ever-changing market demands of this mobile-first, cloud-computing world.”