Metro Hotels - A Diverse Spectrum of Hotel Interests
Metro HotelsFebruary 08, 2011
Metro Hotels - A Diverse Spectrum of Hotel Interests
Metro is unique. Most hotel brands stick to a single market segment that suits them but Metro operates a chain ranging from high quality hotels to pubs throughout the country. In fact, Metro Hotels is the country’s oldest 100% Australian-owned hotel chain.
Metro Hospitality Group, the trading division of the Transmetro Corporation Ltd, oversees the Metro Hotels chain. Transmetro is an Australian owned public company that has been listed on the Australian Stock Exchange for more than 20 years.
Metro Hospitality Group comprises 17 properties across a spectrum of accommodation hotels, apartments, suites, inns and theme pubs in capital cities and regional centres Australia-wide.
In the accommodation sector, Metro Hospitality Group has engaged in the management, ownership, development and refurbishment of hotels for more than three decades. It has operated hotels on behalf of numerous receivers, liquidators and mortgagees and leading banks. The group diversified its portfolio in 1997 to include ownership and operation of Irish and British theme pubs. The pub division has contributed strong profits to the group, diluting the impact of industry-changing events, including the introduction of GST, the post Sydney Olympics hangover, the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, the collapse of Ansett Airlines, the SARS pandemic and the recent global financial crisis.
Metro has embarked in a major upgrading of its properties over the last five years to ensure its hotels and inns remain at the top end of their niche markets. It has just completed a $4 million renovation and refurbishment of its Perth icon property, Metro Hotel Perth.
Transmetro is seeking to grow its portfolio and expand its interests through the acquisition, leasing or managing of existing and new hotels, apartments, inns and pubs and venturing with other parties both domestically and internationally. Internationally, the company has recently entered into an alliance with Argyle Hotels, a leading operator of hotels and resorts in China and Fiji.
Metro Hotels - the country’s oldest Australian-owned hotel chain currently provides a national accommodation network of 14 properties with over 1,000 rooms in major cities and key locations across Australia. Based in capital cities, or larger regional centres, Metro Hotels are mostly four-star properties catering for both corporate and leisure travellers. The fully-serviced hotels offer a broad range of amenities, including on-site restaurants and bars, business facilities, Foxtel and high speed Internet access and, in some properties, conference and function rooms.
Metro Apartments and Suites - located in major cities and regional centres, including Darling Harbour in the heart of the Sydney CBD, in cosmopolitan Melbourne and in the booming regional city of Gladstone in Queensland. Fully serviced and self-contained, they are an ideal and popular accommodation choice for corporate and leisure travellers, including families, looking for overnight, weekly or longer term accommodation. All properties offer Foxtel and broadband access.
Metro Inns – these have been servicing value-conscious business and leisure travellers for more than 30 years. Providing comfortable, affordable accommodation in suburban and regional locations, the inns offer daily servicing, off-street parking, high-speed Internet access and Foxtel.
Pubs - the group operates the Paddy Maguires chain of Irish theme pubs located in major Australian cities. Popular with people of all ages, Paddy Maguires pubs (and the Elephant, a British pub in Adelaide) are best known for their broad range of local and imported beers on tap. All venues provide entertainment, a busy schedule of activities, guest loyalty programs and day-and-night restaurant facilities. Additionally, Paddy Maguires in George St Sydney offers gaming.
For the last 3 years, 35-year hospitality veteran George Bedwani has been chief operating officer of Transmetro. He said the attraction of Metro for him was “the challenge of successfully managing different properties with diverse positioning, focusing on delivering best practice in service and management. Also, I was attracted by the opportunity to drive growth in the current volatile market and identify attractive acquisition opportunities.”
One of the most recent moves was the strategic alliance with Argyle. “Argyle is a leading operator of hotels and resorts in China and Fiji. The two hotel groups have agreed to market and promote each company’s brands and properties in their respective markets. The alliance involves the provision of sales support and leads, along with reciprocal promotion and representation at relevant trade shows.”
Such alliances make sense as Transmetro is seeking to grow its portfolio and expand its interests.
“Our 3½ and four-star hotels are increasingly recognised for their high quality and value in a niche market,” Mr Bedwani said. “In recent years our focus has shifted to the management of four-star hotels and apartments. Our objective over the next year is to consolidate our portfolio, be represented in all key cities and give our clients a consistent standard whenever they travel interstate.”
“One of the biggest challenges facing Metro Hotels as a group is maintaining the excellent staff we have and finding good quality personnel when vacancies are created and new properties are acquired. The shortage of staff is an industry wide concern and one that affects the smallest properties in rural areas right through to major five-star properties in the big cities.
“Another major issue affecting the industry is airlines increasingly reducing the number of flights due to the rising cost of fuel. The leisure market has also been affected, with people less inclined to drive long distances because of the prohibitive cost of fuel.
“As well, the increasingly volatile market means that hotel groups must adapt and move quickly in the new environment to stay ahead of the game. The popularity of the Internet means we must constantly monitor our rates and those of our competitors to ensure we maintain our competitive edge. Also, we must think laterally about ways to take advantage of new technology and apply innovative sales and marketing skills to build business.”
The people behind Metro
John McEvoy, chairman and managing director
John has spent 30 years in the hospitality industry in Australia. He founded the Metro group in 1976 while in his twenties. He has served as chairman and managing director of Transmetro Corporation since it was incorporated in 1979. Additionally John has extensive experience in marketing and the media, having held a number of executive roles with Consolidated Press, then radio network and Channel 9 Sydney. John has been a Rotarian for most of his adult life and has chaired a number of charity and sporting organisations.
Alan Notley FCPA ACA (NZ) FAIM, non-executive director
Alan is a former executive director of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd serving on the Ansett board from 1981 to 1992. Alan also served as executive chairman of Traveland International P/L that operated 250 travel agencies, chairman of Ansett Pioneer Bus Lines and executive chairman of Diners Club Australia. Alan is presently chairman of ASP Ship Management P/L, a major ship management organisation.
David Lloyd, non-executive director
David has widespread commercial experience in three separate states having been involved in business in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney. He presently acts as a consultant for Star Dean-Willcocks in Sydney, specialising in corporate planning and restructuring.
George Bedwani, chief operations officer
George has extensive hospitality management experience and has held senior positions at major Australian hotel chains including Stamford Hotels, Accor and InterContinental. As COO of Transmetro Corporation Ltd, George is responsible for the management and expansion of the group’s accommodation and pub portfolios throughout Australia and New Zealand. George is on the board of the Australian Hotels Association and an active board member on a number of major charities and not-for-profit organisations.
Passionate about hospitality
“My parents wanted me to be a doctor,” George Bedwani reflected, “but from the time I left school I knew I wanted to work in the hotel industry.”
George was born in Alexandria, Egypt. His passion for the hospitality industry is almost matched by his passion for racehorses.
“I speak six languages and spent six years working overseas in Alexandria, Switzerland and Beirut before moving to Australia.
“My first job in Australia was working at the Sebel Town House. I then moved on to Southern Cross in Sydney and Melbourne. I was group general manager of Accor’s three main hotels at Sydney’s Darling Harbour: Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour, Ibis Darling Harbour and Grand Mercure One Darling Harbour, general manager of the Hotel InterContinental in Sydney and group general manager of Stamford Hotels in Adelaide.
“Prior to taking up my position with Transmetro, I was general manager of Cypress Lakes Resort and Elysia, Hunter Valley.”