5,000th Hotel Opening: A Celebration of Success at Choice Hotels

Worldwide lodging franchisor Choice Hotels International, Inc. celebrates a significant milestone later this month - the opening of the 5,000th Choice brand hotel, a new-build, 80-room, three-story Comfort Suites brand hotel in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A host of Choice executives, industry press representatives and VIP guests of the franchisee owners, Bjorn Kaashagen, Rian Gamble and Bob Rehm of the Lake Geneva Hospitality Group LLC, will gather at the hotel to mark this momentous occasion — a testament, certainly, to the strength and stability of the Choice Hotels franchise system.

According to Chuck Ledsinger, president and CEO of Choice Hotels, the opening of the 5,000th hotel, while an important cause for celebration, is less a milestone reached than a marker on a continuum, as the company strives toward its vision to generate the highest return on investment of any hotel franchise.

“The true measure of any franchise system is the success and profitability of its franchisees,” said Ledsinger. “Certainly, the opening of our 5,000th hotel is indicative of our ability to maximize the return on investment for our franchisees. As is the fact that we maintain a 99 percent retention rate among our franchisees*.

“Our challenge, going forward, is to continue to build on the momentum that has brought us to this 5,000th hotel opening,” Ledsinger said.

Specifically, the company will continue to build on the strength of its brands, which are among the most widely recognized in the marketplace today. Its flagship Comfort Inn brand enjoys a 98 percent aided brand awareness among travelers, while its other brands — most notably Econo Lodge at 94 percent and Quality at 85 percent — also score high in terms of aided brand awareness. And the newest Choice Hotels brand, the upscale, select-service Cambria Suites brand, is designed to tap into the burgeoning upscale, tech-savvy, experiential travel market — giving the company solid positioning not only among today's travelers but among tomorrow's as well.

Choice Hotels will continue to flex its marketing muscle on behalf of its franchisees, with $50 million spent annually on a multi-brand, multi-media marketing campaign designed to drive business to Choice brand hotels. “We'll See You There” is the consistent message, reinforced via broadcast and print advertising, national and regional promotions, the Choice Privileges and EASY CHOICE guest rewards programs, intermediary marketing initiatives, the company's award-winning proprietary website, Choicehotels.com, and more.

And these marketing strategies will continue to result in strong and consistent reservations delivery to franchisees, with an estimated $1.4 billion in gross room revenue, and 55 million room nights booked through the Choice Hotels central reservations system in 2004.

The company will continue to provide exceptional services to its franchisees, with one of the largest franchise services field teams in the industry. To help maximize hotel performance, Choice Hotels provides extensive training to franchisees throughout the life of their franchises, both on property and at the company's state-of-the-art corporate Learning Center. And the proprietary property management system, Profit Manager, equips hotels with superior operational technology and yield management capabilities that maximize occupancies and room rates.

Choice Hotels will also continue to provide full-service procurement and consultation to Choice Franchisees. Its Endorsed Vendor Program, and Choicebuys.com — an online purchasing portal, includes 250+ vendors with more than 60,000 products and services at your fingertips.

And Choice Hotels will continue to strive to make entry into its system as cost-effective as possible, with new construction prototypes that are value-engineered to maximize profitability while minimizing excess costs, and with conversion costs that focus solely on property improvements that raise guest satisfaction levels rather than unnecessary changes that don't translate into increased revenue.

“For the first 5,000 hotels in our system, franchisee success has been our top priority,” said Ledsinger. “Our performance has been determined by their performance, and our success by their success.

“We are proud of what we've accomplished together, to get to this point,” he said. And we look forward to even greater success in the months and years ahead.”

*Source: Internal data, calculated based on number of franchisees in 2004 that elected to terminate their franchise agreement.
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