Growth Leaders

Americas Best Value Inn, a six-year-old membership group, continues to soar. For the third year in a row, the brand tops the list of the industry's top 10 growth chains. The chain added 8,846 rooms between March 2004 and March 2005, a whopping 48-percent increase.

The calculations for the growth chains study are based on The Brand Report, an annual listing in Lodging Hospitality of the 50 largest hotel brands (measured by the number of rooms in the U.S. and based on data supplied by the lodging companies). The previous growth chains report (October 2004) covered a 17-month period, whereas this survey is based on a 12-month comparison.

Hilton Garden Inn, another relatively new brand, came in second in the rankings for the second year in a row. This business-oriented brand from Hilton added 5,159 rooms during the 12-month period, an increase of 20.6 percent. Last year, the chain boosted its room count by 31 percent over 17 months.

Despite the health of the industry, not all large chains are growing by net room count. In fact, 17 companies of the 46 in The Brand Report in both years either lost rooms or held steady between 2004 and this year. The three largest brands (based on number of rooms in the U.S.) — Holiday Inn, Best Western and Days Inn — all posted room count losses from '04 to '05.

The top 10 growth chains posted a combined increase of 44,762 rooms, or about the size of the entire La Quinta chain. Just five parent companies account for all 10 of the growth brands. Starwood Hotels & Resorts placed three flags on the list — Westin, Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton — as did Choice Hotels with Clarion, Quality and Econo Lodge. Hilton had two brands on the list — Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton. Two companies (the only non-publicly traded entities) each placed one brand: Vantage Hospitality Group (Americas Best Value Inn) and HVM LLC (Extended Stay America).

From its start in 1999, Americas Best Value Inn has been on a fast track, growing from five properties to more than 500 with 30,000-plus rooms today. A membership organization in which owners have a voice and a vote in all policies and programs, the brand has blossomed in recent years from strictly a chain of small budget hotels to a collection that also includes mid-level properties, some offering full service and many with more than 100 rooms.

Over the past year and a half, the members and the company officers successfully executed a name change (from the original Best Value Inn) and added a number of programs and services for member properties, including the launch of GenaRes, its own central reservations system (see related story on page 85), new training initiatives, an ff&e purchasing program, a revenue management division and more.

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