Several years ago, Cendant Hotels launched a long and arduous project to return glory to its once-proud Ramada brand. The brand took another large step at its franchisee conference last month in Las Vegas with the rollout of the second phase of a brand repositioning strategy.

The initiative, which includes product enhancements in bath, bed and breakfast, will be accompanied by higher levels of franchisee support, revenue management training and brand marketing. Last year, Ramada kick-started the repositioning with the introduction of new logos and mandates for high-speed Internet access, continental breakfast service and upgraded bathroom amenities.

Ramada President Keith Pierce says the new standards are the first steps to get the brand “back into the competition” in the mid-market lodging segment. “Now, we must make sure we get consistency and compliance from franchisees on what we've asked them to do. It will take a lot of rigor, but it must be done.”

Plans for the brands overhaul began several years ago as part of Cendant's Project Restore, its ambitious and ongoing effort to refresh and reposition its lineup of flags. Hundreds of properties, including many Ramadas, were purged for failure to meet brand standards, fulfill financial obligations, or both. More recently, and more importantly, the company was able to secure worldwide ownership and rights to the Ramada system from Marriott International and Canadian company AFM Hospitality.

“Gaining complete control of the Ramada system was crucial,” says Pierce. “Because the brand was run by three different organizations for more than 15 years, it was difficult to promote it properly or to institute a common look and feel.”

With a new direction in place, Ramada has become more aggressive in its growth strategies, particularly for new-construction properties. Recent openings of new-construction Ramadas include properties in Clairemont and Airdrie, AB, Canada; East Moline, IL; and Lowell, AR. Another six projects are under construction, and 17 addition agreements have been signed.

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