Photo credit: Becca McCullough - HDG Hotels

13,000 Reasons I’m Optimistic about the Future of Choice Hotels

I am often asked: what makes Choice Hotels unique? The answer is our strong relationships with our franchisees.

Choice is a large company, but not so large that we don’t know our owners and, in many cases, their family members, by name. A couple of summers ago, for example, nearly every Choice associate at our Rockville headquarters knew about the upcoming wedding of one of our owner’s children…some even asked to see photos of the big day!

The pandemic has only strengthened Choice’s bond with our owners as well as my personal commitment to the 13,000 entrepreneurs who fly a Choice-brand flag on their hotels.

We’re proud to have earned the trust of so many small business owners by demonstrating consistently that, though they may be in business for themselves, they’re never by themselves. Recently, that has meant providing the necessary support to help them weather this crisis.

One step we’ve taken that I’m especially proud of is the redeployment of dozens of Choice associates from across the company to support our franchisees. This has allowed us to conduct over 30,000 one-on-one consultations with our owners and their families since March — engaging every hotel in the system. We reached out to understand our owners’ needs, ask what we could do to help, and to simply listen.

Listening is one of our core values, which is why the first business trip I took after the start of the pandemic was to meet in person with owners Azim and Navroz Saju of HDG Hotels (pictured). Because we listen, we know what’s at stake for our franchisees — nearly all of whom qualify as small business owners — especially as winter approaches.

Our commitment to listening is also why we’re kicking off a new series of virtual, live events with franchisees.

Save the Date: Nov. 19th Fireside Chat
I’d like to invite all members of the Choice family to the first installment of our Fireside Chat series, scheduled for Nov. 19th at 4 pm ET. I’ll be joined by Tim Shuy, Vice President, Owner and Portfolio Strategy, for an informal conversation on our industry’s efforts to urge Congress to pass additional relief funding, the outcome of the election, and more. All questions will come directly from our franchisees, who will also get to vote on the topic for the second Fireside Chat.

The Road Ahead
While we are not out of the woods yet, I look forward with optimism. The recent news on the effectiveness of vaccines is promising and their widespread deployment is expected to boost the economy, and consumer confidence in the safety of travel.

Leisure travel is leading the recovery, and our franchised hotels are well-positioned to capture this demand. As we have seen in previous down cycles, guests are replacing more extravagant trips with lower-cost getaways, favoring driving over air travel. Choice-brand hotels are the best option for trips like these.

But the biggest reason I’m optimistic? The resilience and tenacity of our ownership base, which is 13,000 franchisees strong. Despite the incredible challenges our owners faced, an incredible 90% of our hotels kept their businesses running even in the worst weeks of the crisis. Today, that number is at nearly 100%.

I am confident that together we will emerge even stronger — just as we have before over the course of our over 80-year history.  

Stay safe, and I hope to see you on the 19th.