10 Growth Chains

Growth is a constant for Americas Best Value Inn and Hilton Garden Inn. For the second year in a row, the two flags posted the largest growth in the number of U.S. hotel rooms, adding a combined 15,800 guest units. And for the fourth straight year, Americas Best Value Inn led all growth chains. The seven-year-old Vantage Hospitality Group membership chain added 8,117 rooms from the end of 2004 to the end of 2005, for a 29.7-percent rise.

“Our growth record helps our members — both new ones and the pioneers who've been with us from the start — feel like they made the right decision to join,” says Vantage President & CEO Roger Bloss. “And while growth is important, it doesn't mean anything unless we continue to produce a return on investment for our members.”

Bloss says the group continues to look for “quality operators who buy into the goals and values of our system. However, as we grow, we remain careful not to alienate our existing members and their efforts to be successful.”

Hilton Garden Inn also had a robust growth year in '05, adding 7,683 rooms for a 27.4-percent growth mark. In the previous year, the chain grew by 21 percent, adding nearly 5,200 rooms. Hilton Hotels Corp. dominated the list of 10 Growth Chains, with the Homewood Suites and Hilton brands also among the group. No other brand company placed more than one flag on the list.

The product is one of the secrets to the growth success of the Hilton Garden Inn chain, says Bill Fortier, Hilton's senior vice president of franchise development. “It was a well-conceived product,” he says. “We took a long look at the competition and created a product that gave the owners more for the same development cost and the customer got more for the same price.”

Fortier says about 75 percent of new deals for Hilton Garden Inns come from existing Hilton Family owners. “That tells the best story,” he says.

Lodging Hospitality editors calculate the 10 Growth Chains by comparing the yearly gains in the number of U.S. hotel rooms for the top 50 hotel chains. Each brand's numbers appear in The Brand Report in the March 1 issue and are based on numbers supplied to Lodging Hospitality by the brand companies.

The top 10 growth chains posted a combined increase of 52,774 rooms, or nearly the size of the Residence Inn chain. Of 48 brands that appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 Brand Reports, 23 either lost rooms or had negligible gains.

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