A conversation with Pat Pacious and Teague Hunter, President & CEO of Hunter Hotel Advisors

Putting Words into Action on Diversity, Equity & Belonging

We’ve marked another important milestone in our 80 years as a company as we celebrate the newly formed Choice Hotels Owners African American Alliance (CHOAAA). As CHOAAA President Bob Nesbitt says, the group’s mission is to determine “what the barriers to growth are” for African American hotel owners and work with Choice on “dissolving those barriers and developing solutions.”

Establishing this owners’ council is a bright spot in what’s been a challenging year. In addition to the global pandemic that’s resulted in tragedy and given rise to deep economic challenges, issues of racial injustice have come to the forefront and rightfully sparked a national movement. This inspired us to do more for the communities we serve, building upon the work we've been committed to for decades.

As a result, we are taking fresh actions to enhance our focus on diversity, equity, and belonging, including:

  • Creating CHOAAA, the hotel industry’s only franchisee-focused group dedicated to Black and African American hoteliers. Staffed by our own John Lancaster, we have a phenomenal group of leaders filling out the initial membership roster — my personal thanks go to President Bob Nesbitt and Vice President Fred Washington, as well as our esteemed delegates: Chanel Grant, Zane Major, Michael Ringwood, Larry Triplett, Dr. Andrea Williams, and Reggie Winfield. I look forward to our next meeting!
  • Introducing a hospitality internship program that will debut in 2021, for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities by partnering with our upscale Cambria Hotels brand.
  • Creating opportunities for minority-owned businesses. As a franchisor, it is our vision to fuel small business through proven brands where all are welcome to pursue the American dream of entrepreneurship. To reach underrepresented groups, Choice has a dedicated Emerging Markets Program focused on establishing relationships with African American, Hispanic, Native American, and veteran hoteliers. Through the end of November 2020, Choice has awarded — and financially supported — 22 franchise contracts through the Emerging Markets Program this year, despite the pandemic.
  • And internally, we’ve set the bar higher for our hiring, promotion, and retention benchmarks and goals to improve the diversity of our leadership and associates. These goals will augment our current efforts to hire and develop diverse talent at all levels of the organization.

All these measures are to ensure that we live up to our brand promise, where everyone feels welcome, wanted, and respected. This starts at the top of the company from the Board of Directors, which established a Diversity Committee over 15 years ago, to our corporate culture, which includes a Diversity Advisory Council and 11 employee resource groups that reflect the inclusiveness of our organization, and extends all the way to the front lines of our franchised hotels. We recently published our 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance Report, which  provides an updated overview of the company’s longstanding commitment to diversity and efforts to support and enrich the communities we serve.

We’re proud that 70% of our hotels currently have minority ownership — including strong representation from the Indian and South Asian American communities — and honored to be a longtime supporter of our diverse hotel owners. At the same time, we recognize there’s always room to do more. Today represents another step in the right direction along the path of advancing diversity, equity, and belonging within the company, hospitality industry, and nation at large. More to come, including another exciting announcement this month… stay tuned!

Check out highlights from our Fireside Chats, a new series of virtual, live events with our franchisees.





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.




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The Radisson brands, including Park Plaza, Country Inn & Suites, and Park Inn by Radisson, are owned in the Americas regions by Choice Hotels.
Outside of the Americas, the brands are owned by Radisson Hotel Group, an unaffiliated company headquartered in Belgium.