The Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), a Switzerland-based global alliance of independent hotel brands, has launched its 'GHA Discovery' programme, also expanding many of US-based founding partner Omni Hotels & Resorts' Select Guest loyalty programme benefits around the world. This article is copyright 2011 The Best Customer Guide.

The GHA Discovery programme was created to deliver both customer recognition and experience-based rewards beginning with 12 brands and nearly 300 hotels worldwide. With a heightened level of personalised service, rather than simple loyalty points or miles, the programme also provides access to more than 1,000 localised experiences, all designed by the local hotel associates to provide access to off-the-beaten path activities in each location.

Loyalty programme members staying at an Omni will also receive equivalent level Select Guest loyalty programme benefits. But, beyond the local experiences, members can also enjoy numerous other benefits during their hotel stays.

At the Gold level of the programme (from the time enrollment until nine nights have been stayed), members benefit from:

  • Storing their preferences in their membership profile.
  • Their choice of Gold level local experience after their first stay at a GHA brand;
  • Their choice of newspaper, free of charge;
  • Free internet access;
  • Free bottled water;
  • Omni's Select Guest benefits also provide for free pressing of two items of clothing, a morning beverage of choice delivered to the guest's room, free shoe shine, and the ability to earn free nights for stays (which can be redeemed at any Omni Hotel or Resort).

At the Platinum level of the programme (after staying 10 to 29 nights), members have all of the Gold Level privileges, plus:

  • Choice of Platinum level local experience;
  • Upgrade to next room category at check-in;
  • Late check-out (until 3pm);
  • Guaranteed room availability 48-hours before arrival;
  • Local amenity;
  • Omni's Select Guest benefits also provide concierge services, administrative business assistance, and a sweet, local favourite dish prepared by the chef and delivered at evening turndown.

At the elite Black level of the programme (from 30 or more nights), members benefit from all of the Gold and Platinum privileges, plus:

  • Choice of Black level local experience;
  • Double upgrade at check-in;
  • Early check-in (beginning at 9am) and late check-out (until 6pm);
  • Guaranteed room availability 24 hours before arrival;
  • Personal choice of local amenity;
  • Various local brand benefits (such as access to Executive Lounges, laundry service, and so on);
  • Omni's Select Guest benefits also provide an upgrade to a suite when redeeming free nights at any Omni Hotel or Resort.

The local experiences offered vary in exclusivity according to programme membership level. For example, after only one qualifying stay at a GHA hotel, Gold members can learn to play traditional 'Boduberu' drums in the Maldives or take a sunset drive through a nature reserve in Namibia. Platinum members can take in a rugby match in New Zealand or rehearse for Carnival at a samba school in Brazil. Black level members can enjoy a private cruise along the Potomac in a former Presidential yacht, or a helicopter tour over the LA skyline, or even develop their own customised ringtone at the Microsoft Studios in Seattle.

"As a GHA founding member, we are very pleased to see this programme launch," commented Mike Deitemeyer, president for Omni Hotels & Resorts. "GHA Discovery gives us the opportunity to provide international travelers and our Select Guest loyalty programme members greater peace of mind while also enjoying amazing local experiences they'll be talking about when they go back home."

Based on the airline alliance model, GHA is an alliance of independent hotel brands. Each member brand uses a consistent reservations and customer database platform, enabling guests' membership status and personal preferences to be recognised at all hotels, regardless of the brand.

The GHA currently includes Anantara, Doyle Collection, First, Kempinski, Leela, Mirvac, Marco Polo, Omni, Pan Pacific, ParkRoyal, Shaza and Tivoli hotels and resorts, encompassing nearly 300 luxury hotels with over 65,000 rooms in 48 countries. Guests can book a reservation with any of the 12 participating hotel brands through one centralised web site.