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"I'm so confident that Vantage Hospitality has the best resources in our industry segment, that if you take advantage of everything we offer and implement our revenue and marketing programs, your ROI will exceed 100 percent of your membership fees. This promise speaks volumes about our commitment to our members and our confidence in our brand." - Roger Bloss, Founder, President & CEO, Vantage Hospitality Group
The premise is simple. Do what you’re supposed to do as a good hotel operator, and we’ll do what we’re supposed to do as a good hotel brand. If you participate as an active member, do everything you need to be doing as a member, and still do not realize more revenue than what you, as an owner, pay in membership fees, we will credit your membership fees and action plans will be implemented until acceptable delivery of business is realized. Promise Provisions Property Conditions/Standards: Property must timely comply with all transition requirements, including initiating as an ABVI Property and making its first monthly Brand Fee Payment and subsequent payments per signed Agreement. Property must be in the Brand System for a sufficient time period to have received a Quality Assurance inspection and must achieve a minimum score of Grade A (485-500) on all Quality Assurance inspections (minimum of one per year; announced visits). ROI evaluation will take place after the property has been in ABVI’s system for one year. We will stand by our promise even if you have left our membership or have given us notice that you intend to do so. Program Participation: Property shall achieve a minimum score of 85% compliance with the Marketing Checklist. Member shall provide substantial inventory, competitive room rates and industry-standard cancellation policies available in the Central Reservation System (CRS). Member shall enroll and actively participate in all applicable and available brand-sponsored programs, including Brand Promotions, Tour & Travel, Group Sales, Net Rate and Consortia / Corporate programs. Member shall send at least one management-level representative to the Annual Conference (included in fees) every year for educational training, brand initiatives and overall ROI analysis. Member shall send at least one property representative to at least one regional Vantage Academy training seminar each year (complimentary training). Guest Services Satisfaction: Member shall implement a social media strategy aimed at increasing the consumer’s overall satisfaction as related to such social media Internet sites such as TripAdvisor, IgoUgo, etc. Such strategy shall be provided by the Brand at corporate level and implemented by the Member at property level. Member in Good Standing: Member shall pay all Fees as outlined in the Fee Summary and GDS Booking Fees on a timely basis. GDS Booking Fees are paid through the TACS system.
Americas Best Value Inn Adds 127 Hotels in 2011 to Surpass the 1,000 Mark Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Americas Best Value Inn®, the 10th largest hotel brand in the world, enjoyed another year of impressive growth in 2011 with the addition of 127 properties to the system. Included in the total was ABVI’s 1,000th hotel, an industry milestone that the brand proudly achieved in just 12 years.
Americas Best Value Inn and Canadas Best Value Inn® added locations in 35 states and four provinces. Texas led the way with 15 new properties, followed by 11 in Missouri and 10 in California. All told, ABVI’s and CBVI’s 127 new inns, hotels and suites included conversions from such brands as Best Western®, Days Inn®, Microtel Inns & Suites®, La Quinta®, Ramada®, Quality Inn®, Crestwood Suites®, Howard Johnson® and Comfort Inn®, as well as dozens of independent properties. The 1,000th hotel was an 80-room, former Best Western in Normal, IL.
"We are so thrilled to be named the 1,000th Americas Best Value Inn. It's a significant milestone for the company, so everyone at the hotel is extremely honored. We are very proud to be a part of the Vantage Hospitality family and look forward to a long relationship with them," said owner Sonny Punjabi.
A limited-service brand, ABVI operates under its Freestyle® brand model, which allows hotel owners to pay low, flat, monthly fees based on number of rooms – not a percentage of revenue as do other national hotel brands that typically charge fees that are three to five times higher than ABVI’s. Owners also have short-term contracts, a voice and a vote in the direction of the brand, reasonable property improvement plans, and the one-of-a-kind 100% Return On Investment Promise.
“Throughout North America, hotel owners are continuing to embrace our innovative model that allows them to be in business for themselves, not by themselves. Vantage Hospitality is also growing and evolving by constantly adding more corporate support team personnel and further advancing technology and resources, such as our stateof-the-art Central Reservation System powered by Sabre. And we’re continuing to expand our progressive, revenue-generating programs and comprehensive resources to help our hotel owners increase their return on investment potential, like our new $1, $2, $3 renovation program,” said Roger Bloss, the Founder, President and CEO of Vantage Hospitality Group, which also includes the Chinas Best Value Inn®, Value Inn Worldwide®, Lexington Hotels® and Lexington Inns® brands.
Vantage Adds Pricing Empowerment Programs for Member Hotels At Vantage Hospitality’s annual conference, the company launched several new programs designed to empower hoteliers to make better room pricing decisions By Glenn Haussman December 13, 2011
It’s official. In less than a dozen years, Vantage Hospitality has achieved a major milestone; the fastest hotel company to reach more than 1,000 properties in its system. In fact, the company is well on its way to 1,100 properties under such brands as Americas Best Value and Lexington Collection.
The announcement was made last week as part of the company’s annual conference, which was held at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Nevada.
But even though reaching 1,000 hotels is impressive – all while roughly eliminating the bottom 10 percent of hotels annually due to low quality scoring – the company announced some new plans and promotions designed to help their core ownership base of mom and pop hoteliers better compete in a topsy-turvy hotel market.
To excel in today’s operating environment, many hotel companies are looking to get their hotels in the best shape possible so owners can up rates. That means millions of rooms are already under, or will get renovated in 2012. And all those new rooms put rate pressure on for hotels that are not up to date.
Problem is many owners – especially those small family businesses – cannot get secure financing to update and modernize their hotels. Enter Vantage Hospitality founder and CEO Roger Bloss, whose team created what’s being dubbed the ‘$1, $2, $3 Dollars-A-Day Program.’ Essentially the program is for all member hotels in good standing to receive pre-approved financing that will give them enough money to upgrade their facilities. The name of the program refers to how much it costs property owners per room per day, depending on the type of work that needs to be done. The program is in cooperating with American Hotel Register Company and Cicero’s Development. “This is something we worked hard on with our operations and vendors,” said Bloss. “We knew competitors would come out heavily with strong PIPs (product improvement plans). I don’t think we have the right to look into people’s bank accounts and ask them how much they are willing to spend.
“There is a lack of confidence to raise ADR so we felt that this gives [owners] a model that shows if they do this they can raise rates. They don’t have to go through a bank or friends or family to raise money,” Bloss continued.
The main focus of the program will be on FF&E renovation, operational supplies required to improve guest experience, and consolidating and streamlining the procurement process.
For example, for just one dollar a day per room, owners can choose between 12 drapes and duvets that will sharpen a room’s look while helping boost rates by more than that single dollar.
He expects about 65 percent of hotels to participate. About 25 percent of hotels in the system have been updated already within the last few years.
The company is also adding educational and training programs to help operators boost the profit line.
But to be successful, Americas Best Value Inn and Lexington Collection hotels need guests. Though Bloss said reservation flow is increasing, the company also unveiled its 2012 marketing plan.
One highlight is the addition of 10-second commercial spots located within the body of certain syndicated television shows like “Dr. Phil” and “Judge Judy.” The idea here is combat DVR users who are accustomed to skipping traditional television ads. Since these spots are located within the show they are more likely to be viewed.
Another non-traditional marketing move is to give away hotels stays as part of game shows, like the very popular “Let’s Make A Deal,” starring Wayne Brady. During the conference’s annual general session we saw a one-week stay in a Lexington Collection hotel given away as part of a prize package to Jackson Hole, WY. Vantage also announced an agreement with Sabre Hospitality Solutions to utilize its Central Reservation System (CRS) platform.
The other big news coming out of the conference was Bloss’ continued confidence the company eventually get a new brand, most likely an economy extended-stay concept. “It’s no secret a brand extension is very much on our radar. And it’s no secret we bid on AmericInn. We have a huge appetite to find an extended stay brand and think that it’s a real good niche for us,” said Bloss, who said they’d consider launching one if one was not available for purchase.
Finally, we don’t want to miss discussing Lexington. The brand has 25 hotels with several big announcements set to come immediately. In fact, we know of one real big one but have promised to keep it under wraps. When announced it’s sure to cause a stir about the Lexington soft brand to deliver reservations.
“We have been concentrating on building a strong base of properties and delivering programs that deliver a strong return on investment,” said Bill Hanley a partner in Vantage who runs that side of the company. “The high end and mid-tier hoteliers are desperately searching for alternatives to franchising and Vantage has been their beacon of light. Soft branding shows the power of Vantage and how hotels can join and maintain own identity while taking advantage of Vantage’s resources.”
Vantage Hospitality is a freestyle membership company that allows hotels to come and go through annual contracts. All brand standards and fees are voted upon by its members. Vantage Hospitality operates brands under the names Americas Best Value Inn, the Lexington Collection® of hotels, inns and suites as well as Canadas Best Value Inn, Chinas Best Value Inn and Value Inn Worldwide.
Vantage Hospitality Stays on the Move Company looks to grow with Sabre, Possibly new brand By Eric Stoessel December 12, 2011
In June of this year, Vantage Hospitality hit the 1,000-property milestone in the12th year since its founding. Last week at its annual convention and trade show, founder and CEO Roger Bloss made it clear Vantage was far from done. Bloss and his company announced plans for an innovative renovation program, introduced a new digital and central reservations system partner and even discussed the possibility of buying an existing brand. “This isn’t change for the sake of change,” said Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Bernie Moyle during the announcement to members about the move to Sabre Hospitality Solutions as CRS provider. “We owe it to you to stay on the cutting edge.”
Moyle was speaking about Sabre, but everything Vantage had on display at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas last week was about staying ahead of the game. Not only will the relationship with heavyBernie Moyle weight Sabre open the door to more mobile and social media booking applications, but Bloss believes the partnership will help entice larger ownership groups and management companies to consider the Americas Best Value Inn and Lexington Collection brands.
“We need to be in Chicago, New York, Miami and Los Angeles,” Bloss said during a press conference after the general session on Wednesday. “We have started talking to larger companies that have been with bigger brands and used these systems and they are excited. This really opens up doors.”
For the current 1,043 properties in the system — 1,018 with Americas, Canadas and Chinas Best Value Inns and 25 with Lexington — the shift to Sabre will also open several other doors. The transition from previous provider Genares will begin on Feb. 1 and the conversion won’t cost members anything. Booking fees will not increase either, said Moyle. Sabre COO Steve Fitzgerald said some mobile and social media applications would be available as soon as Feb. 1.
“Technology does not drive change – it enables it,” Moyle said. “This new venture with Sabre will allow Vantage to continue to bring our members the most comprehensive marketing and distribution tools available and empower all of us to make informed decisions that will result in more accurate forecasting, insights into rate and channel management, stronger revenue management tools, and ultimately, more occupancy at rates that enhance our members’ gross operating profit.”
Scott Anderson, president and CEO of hospitality consulting company High Country Hospitality, said 83% of ABVI’s revenue booked through its CRS came via online channels. Anderson has worked with Vantage this year to improve its digital distribution strategies and to grow Lexington Collection, Vantage’s soft brand.
Bloss added 43% of guests booking online are influenced by social media. “The world has moved online,” he explained as the primary reason for the change from Genares, a company owned by Vantage. Bloss stressed it wasn’t about money or corporate profits, but instead, the future.
Bloss also announced a renovation program he expected almost full compliance with. Partnering with vendors like American Hotel Register, Vantage will offer members three options to upgrade their properties, for $1, $2 or $3 a day per room. All members in good standing will be able to take advantage of the program financed through Vantage and American Hotel Register.
“We know our competitors will be mandating property improvement plans,” Bloss said, “so we wanted to give our members options. This is all financed through our vendor associations and members won’t have to go to the bank. This will provide a solid return on investment within our freestyle philosophy letting [owners] do what [they] want with [their] property.”
Bloss also said he felt Vantage would be able to take advantage of the bigger brands’ hard push for PIPs this year and conversion opportunities would be ripe with owners looking for less expensive alternatives.
“I believe these [other] brands will push too hard, too fast, too soon,” Bloss told the media. He also openly spoke of Vantage’s goal of adding brands in segments other than where ABVI and Lexington sit.
“We have focused on multiple brands,” Bloss said. “We have a huge appetite to find an extended stay brand.” He added the company would consider launching one, but would prefer buying and improving an existing product.
Vantage will also go national this year with its TV ad campaign. A series of 10-second commercials will be embedded in nationally syndicated programs.
Vantage Hospitality Preps for More Growth By Len Vermillion December 9, 2011
In June, Vantage Hospitality Group, the company behind Americas Best Value Inn, Canadas Best Value Inn, Chinas Best Value Inn, and Lexington Collection, surpassed the milestone 1,000th hotel mark. And, by the growth plans laid out by President and CEO Roger Bloss and COO/CFO Bernie Moyle during the company’s annual conference at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas this week, that was just the beginning.
As widely reported, Vantage Hospitality has risen to become the 10th largest hotel company in the world in only 11 years of existence. Since June, the company has added an additional 43 properties and stands at 1,043 total properties through December 2011.
Moyle opened the conference’s general session by declaring that despite the downturn in the economy, the privately Bernie Moyle held company is financially stable. Bloss added that a number of initiatives debuted this week are intended to increase the visibility of both Americas Best Value Inn and Lexington Collection, as well as to increase the ability of members to increase their average daily rates.
The biggest debut for the company this week was the announcement of a partnership with Sabre Hospitality Solutions to switch Vantage’s central reservation system and to install a platform which seamlessly reached customers across a variety of channels, such as third-party bookers, social media, mobile devices, and tablet computers like the iPad.
“Our membership has grown so fast, we now need a different type of technology,” Moyle said.
Bloss said he believes the new technology, which will launch on Feb. 1, will increase the company’s ability to attract new members and properties, especially for the company’s soft brand, Lexington. “This will help us get new properties,” Bloss told reporters following the general session.
Scott Anderson, president of High Country Hospitality, told the audience that Generation X and Generation Y consumers are going to become the travel buyers in the next few years, and many of them shop via smartphones. “We cannot afford to not be innovative. We cannot afford to not take advantage of the latest mobile technology,” Anderson said.
Moyle agreed, saying, “We must commit more resources to mobile technology.”
But, CRS development was just one of the ways Vantage is preparing for additional growth. The company also announced a renovation program for properties to economically make only the necessary upgrades that are needed, when they are needed. Bloss railed against system-wide renovation mandates, saying, “No one should have the right to force system-wide renovation plans with no justification.”
Instead, Vantage’s renovation plans are separated into three programs, each designed to make the investment in remodeling easier for owners and operators. It also is designed to let owners decide which improvements are truly necessary for their customer base and to be done on their timetable. “We wanted options for our members,” Bloss said.
Bloss said the company expects approximately 65 percent participation in the renovation programs. He also said that any member within Vantage who is in good standing automatically qualifies for credit to help with the programs.
The company also announced several marketing initiatives designed to raise the profiles of Americas Best Value Inn and Lexington. Among the initiatives is the company’s foray into television advertising where it will debut 10-second, in-program commercials on several popular TV shows.
Bloss also reiterated the need to develop in high-profile locations. “We need to be in New York, Chicago, Miami,” he said. “We need to get in the premier locations. That’s our biggest opportunity.” And, he hinted that several big deals are in the works, although the company was not ready to discuss such plans. He also said that Lexington, which currently has 25 properties, will soon “have future contracts that will blow your mind.”
Bloss also offered that the company is looking into the possibility of brand expansion, “although we will not have any new brands that compete with our current ones,” he said.
He admitted that the company “has a huge appetite for an extended-stay brand.” Ideally, that would come from an acquisition, but Bloss didn’t rule out the possibility of creating Vantage’s own extended-stay brand. “We would create our own, but our model is to first invest in member services, not corporate services,” he said.
Vantage CEO Open to Adding Another Brand By Jeff Higley December 8, 2011
LAS VEGAS—After collecting more than 1,000 hotels in its membership platform in 11 years, Vantage Hospitality Group is looking possibly to expand further by adding another brand to its portfolio.
During a press conference following Wednesday’s general session at the company’s 2011 conference and trade show at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, Roger Bloss, Vantage’s founder, president and CEO, said the desire for the company to continue spreading its “freestyle lodging” concept could lead to the acquisition or launch of another brand.
Unlike other hotel companies, Vantage offers hotel owners the resources of a hotel franchise but the freedom of a membership program. This freestyle-lodging concept allows members to choose amenities and programs they want for their properties. “We are not looking to have brands that compete with our existing brands,” Bloss said.
Soft Branding The CEO noted that the Lexington brand is active in the soft-branding trend that is popular in the industry.
“We have several contracts out today with properties that will just blow your mind that will do a soft brand with us (under the Lexington flag),” Bloss said.
He said Vantage’s switch to hotel Internet marketing company Sabre Hospitality Solutions’ central reservation system, which was announced earlier in the day, will make it more attractive for such companies to become part of the Lexington portfolio.
“It’s going to open up doors,” he said.
Bloss said one example of a proposal Lexington has in front of a potential prospect will save that property about US$1.50 per transaction by having an affiliation with Lexington.
Guest Services The discussion about additional brands in Vantage’s portfolio came following the annual conference’s company update. The session featured a video in line with the conference’s superhero theme that depicted Vantage defeating villains Doctor Downturn, Chaotic Chameleon (changing technologies), Double Vision Demon (hidden fees by competitors) and Mr. Megabucks (large marketing funds).
The Coral Springs, Florida-based company’s goal is to add brands in segments it is not represented in to ensure differentiation between brands, Bloss said.
“We have a huge appetite to find an extended-stay brand,” he said, adding the extended-stay hotel model of being about location, price and amenities fits well into Vantage’s strengths. Bloss made it clear that Vantage’s approach to potentially launching a brand would be cautiously measured because he believes the large amount of capital required to do it could test the company’s focus. “Our culture at Vantage is to reinvest in member service rather than corporate service,” he said. “To take those corporate dollars and spend it there rather than focusing on what you have and making it better is just not our culture.” However, if the right opportunity came along, Bloss said he would be interested in expanding Vantage’s roster of brands.
Continuing the March In the meantime, the company will continue its march to expand the Americas Best Value Inn, Canadas Best Value Inn, Chinas Best Value Inn and Lexington Collection brands.
A primary focus for Lexington brand Group President Bill Hanley is to court larger hotel ownership and management companies to convert properties; the Lexington brand has 25 hotels in its portfolio.
“We need to be in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and that’s what Bill’s objective is by going to see those companies because those are the companies that control those properties,” Bloss said. “… It’s part of our business plan.” Bill Hanley
Bloss said Vantage enjoyed a 98% renewal rate of properties in 2011 and removed the bottom 10% performing properties. It added 127 properties to the system and currently stands at 1,043 hotels. “It’s not about adding numbers, it’s about putting quality properties in the marketplace,” Bloss said.
Jordan Langlois, Vantage’s VP of brand management, said the directive for members is simple: “The area to focus on this year is guest services, which cost zero dollars to fix.” Jordan Langlois
One major program launched during the conference allows members to renovate their properties for US$1, US$2 or US$3 per room a day.
“It positions you to increase your (average daily rate),” Langlois said.
During the press conference, Bloss said the program has been in development for about two years, and the various levels of renovation fit the needs and budgets of each of the company’s properties. “We knew the competitors will come out heavily with strong property improvement plans,” Bloss said. “What we wanted to do was create options for (members).” Every property in good standing with Vantage qualifies for financing from program provider American Hotel Register Company, according to Bloss.
“There are three or four things you can do that aren’t going to break you,” Hanley said. Bloss said he expects about two-thirds of the company’s members to use the program.
Vantage Hospitality Adopts Sabre CRS, Sets Growth Goals at Annual Conference By Stephanie Ricca December 7, 2011
LAS VEGAS--Vantage Hospitality Group is ready to make 2012 the year of mobile technology for its Americas Best Value Inns and Lexington Collection Worldwide brands.
At the membership company’s annual conference in Las Vegas this week, mobile is the buzzword, since the company today also announced a partnership with Sabre Hospitality Solutions to use its central reservations system platform. This agreement replaces the company’s 7-year relationship with Genares Worldwide Reservation System.
“Our momentum has grown so fast and so large that we now require a different technology platform,” said Bernie Moyle, CFO and COO of Vantage.
Additional noteworthy announcements at the conference included:
• Growth in key cities: “We need to be in Chicago, New York City, L.A. and Miami,” Bloss said. “Our goal is to get those premier locations.” Bloss and Bill Hanley, group president of the Lexington Collection, said the company is meeting with management companies that have distribution in those gateway locales in effort to forge new partnerships, particularly for the soft Lexington Collection brand, which incorporates three- and four-star hotels into categories of hotels, inns and suites based on market niches.
It’s all part of the company’s overall strategy to encourage its members to embrace digital technology both in the front and back of the house. “This really brings us to the forefront of technology,” said Roger Bloss, founder, president and CEO of Vantage, adding that the partnership “without a doubt” will allow the company to add more properties, particularly in recognizable gateway cities.
The switch from Genares to Sabre will happen Feb. 1, and Steve Fitzgerald, COO of Sabre Hospitality Solutions, said the mobile booking application will launch then as well, with additional social media booking apps set to roll out from there.
Currently Vantage brand website bookings account for 42 percent of total booking revenue.
Moyle called the move “a cost-neutral change.” Members will incur no conversion costs to switch to the new platform or take advantage of the new tools.
• New segments on the radar: Vantage bid on the AmericInn Hotels chain, which was up for sale several times over the past few years but never found a buyer. Still, Bloss said adding a new brand to the company’s portfolio “is very much on our radar.”
“We have a huge appetite to find an extended-stay brand; we think that would be a great niche for us,” he said.
• Product improvement: Vantage drops the bottomperforming 10 percent of its portfolio from the system annually, and 2012 will bring a renewed focus on product improvement at performing locations.
But Bloss warns these aren’t your typical brand standards. The company partnered with American Hotel Register Co. to offer a three-level product improvement program to members.
“We know other companies are coming out heavy with strong property-improvement plans,” Bloss said. “I don’t think we have the right to go into our owners’ bank accounts so we wanted to create options for them.”
Under the program, members can choose to spend $1, Vantage currently has 1,043 properties opened or signed, Bill Hanley $2 or $3 per day per room inclusive of all costs and the vast majority with the Americas Best Value Inn brand. choose from several options for upgrading softgoods and more at The soft brand, Lexington Collection, has 25 properties open. the three levels. All financing is through the company’s vendor The company’s 1,000th property opened this summer. program. “It’s a very easy system to justify a very easy ROI,” Bloss said.
Is a War Brewing Between Hotel Franchisors and Franchisees? By Ed Watkins - October 10, 2011
It’s been nearly 15 years since full-scale warfare broke out between hotel franchise companies and the franchise community, led by activists within the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. The beef was the franchisors’ unwillingness (said AAHOA) to conform to AAHOA’s 12 points of fair franchising, a manifesto crafted to hold brand companies’ feet to the fire over issues such as impact, liquidated damages, transferability, ownership of customer data, dispute resolution and more. The dispute came to a head in the spring of 1999, when Cendant (now Wyndham) unilaterally withdrew its support from AAHOA one week before the group’s annual conference. The two sides eventually kissed and made up, but an undercurrent of us versus them remains to this day among AAHOA’s membership. Ultimately, it was two things that pushed these issues to the sideline. First was a rapidly improving hotel industry that through most of the 1990s made a lot of AAHOA members rich and happy. Nothing like a fat bank account to alleviate other issues. Secondly, and perhaps more crucial, was the ascent of the hotel membership model in the 1990s. Pioneered primarily by Americas Best Value Inn, these new style brands mostly gave hotel owners what they want, and what AAHOA advocates: lower, evenly applied fees, cost-effective marketing and support programs and a real voice in the operation of the brand, particularly when it comes to brand standards. It’s no wonder ABVI has grown to 1,000 hotels and its Vantage Hospitality parent is perennially listed on the Inc. magazine 500/5000 list of fastest-growing private companies.
Yet, after more than 10 years of relative peace between AAHOA and its franchise company sponsors, a new skirmish broke out last month. AAHOA sent a letter to Choice Hotels, saying it would sever ties with the franchise giant unless Choice addressed a couple of issues AAHOA says violates the principles of good faith and fair dealing on which the franchise covenant is built. AAHOA set a 90-day deadline for Choice to resolve the issues or lose its 2012 membership in the organization and its ability to participate in the AAHOA annual conference. In a boilerplate response, Choice affirmed its legacy as a fair franchisor and its willing to address the issues. We’ll know by the end of the year whether the problem is solved.
While these are serious charges, and I’m sure Choice is considering them to be, I’m not sure AAHOA carries as much clout with its members as it did in the 1980s and ‘90s. Many Asian-Indian hoteliers in the U.S. are no longer Mom-andPop operations that rely on AAHOA guidance to make their decisions. Rather, they’re large, very sophisticated corporations that make branding decisions based on a variety of factors, not just pronouncements from AAHOA. Still, should this enmity spread to other brand companies we may see another full-fledged war between franchisors and franchisees. If, however, business continues to improve for most hotels, a lot of these issues will again fade to the background. The whole mess is a lesson to franchisors not to take their licensees for granted and for hotel owners to realize the power they can wield when necessary.
Hotels, Inns, and Suites Worldwide
20 Canadas Best Value Inns and More By Colleen Isherwood September 2011
CHAGRIN FALLS, OH—So far this year, Vantage Hospitality has added Canadas Best Value Inns in Huntsville, Belleville and Kitchener, ON and Lethbridge, AB. And if you count the openings of Kelowna, BC and Port Colborne, ON late last year, that makes six new CBVI locations in the last 12 months, for a total of 20 Canada-wide. Vantage partner Bill Hanley, who has overall responsibility for development in Canada, Mexico and India, says that’s just the beginning, and that the brand will top-out at 75 to 100 properties over the next six years.
The company has already demonstrated impressive growth, with 1,000 properties expected by year-end from a company that started 11 years ago. Bill Hanley
Vantage has focused development of Canadas Best Value Inns in the Maritimes over the past two years. The company would like to continue its growth in Ontario, build on its base in Western Canada, and then establish a presence along major highways throughout the rest of the country. On tap for the rest of the year are properties in PEI, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Yukon Territory. This will be their second Yukon hotel, as they already have one in Whitehorse.
“I expect we will add five or six hotels next year, and six to eight the following year,” Hanley notes.
In Canada, Hanley works with Kash Joshi, whose company, Canadian Hospitality Group, is the exclusive development partner to represent, sell, and market the Canadas Best Value Inn brand throughout Canada.
Asked about Vantage advantages, Hanley says the corporate mandate is, “Educate, don’t mandate,” the idea being that if people understand why change is happening, they will implement it more quickly and embrace it.
“It seems to be working,” says Hanley, adding that Vantage Academy training programs on current topics such as revenue management and social networks, take place in several locations throughout Canada and the U.S. each year. “We also provide a remarkably attractive flat fee versus a percentage of revenue. It ends up being 40 to 50 per cent of the cost of a franchise brand.”
Vantage hasn’t focused on bringing its second brand, the Lexington Collection, to Canada just yet. But “in the fullness of time,” Canada could see 10 to 15 properties for this lifestyle collection that blends local flavour with brand comfort.
Democracy Comes to Franchising By Don Sniegowski April 6, 2011
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Corporate chains have employees, but a franchise chain has an army of entrepreneurs. That can be a huge competitive advantage. Ask hotelier Roger Bloss, CEO of Vantage Hospitality, one of the top pioneers in the franchising industry. He has franchisees direct the brand.
Roger Bloss President & CEO
CNBC's reporter Darren Rovell says of Americas Best Value Inn, subsidiary of Vantage Hospitality, "Roger Bloss created what might be the most democratic system in the whole entire franchising world.”
While the franchise industry struggles to figure out how to fully tap into the strengths of talented franchise owneroperators, Bloss has taken the lead in providing franchisor transparency, drawing on franchisee talents and giving franchisees a vote in directing the brand.
What are the results in trusting franchisees to make decisions for the brand?
"We are the fastest-growing hotel chain in the history of the industry," declares Bloss. Vantage is now the 10th largest hotel company worldwide, having grown to nearly a thousand properties within 11 years.
Here are a few things that Vantage is pioneering:
• Franchisees (members) vote on all major brand decisions • An agreement written on just one sheet of paper • Deferred fees for distressed hotel owner-operators until business picks up
Visit VantageHospitality.com to view this CNBC web exclusive.
Ties that Bind Vantage Hospitality and AAHOA Absent from the panel of experts on stage at the general session of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association convention last week was Vantage Hospitality CEO Roger Bloss. When asked why, Bloss surmised, “I’m just not controversial enough.” He explained that AAHOA has its 12 Points of Fair Franchising. Vantage complies with all of them. “It wasn’t really an attempt by Vantage to comply. Our philosophies or cultures just seem to match.”
But there seem to be strong coincidences on why the two philosophies match. Bloss is a listener. Editor's note: Blue MauMau reporter Janet Sparks caught up with franchising innovator Roger Bloss during the AAHOA convention in Chicago last week.
The CEO affirms that he has had strong ties to the independent hotel franchisee association since its inception twenty years ago, and Vantage was one of AAHOA’s founding Platinum sponsors. Bloss said he has brought several initiatives to AAHOA and they have implemented several of his programs. “Every year all of the AAHOA board members come to my conference, and the sitting chairman speaks at the event. We also attend all of their functions. We are as active as any chain could be with them,” Bloss said.
One major difference between Bloss’ hospitality group and the others is that Vantage is not a public company. “Of the top 10 hotel chains today, we’re the only private one out there,” he said. When asked if his group will ever go public, he responded, “Only if I’m underground. Vantage won’t be as long as I have a voice. I have no desire to take it public because I would then not be running the company; I would only be taking direction.”
Bloss added that the monetary side of it is irrelevant to him, so there is no motivation whatsoever to take Vantage public.
Sparks: So, why don’t other top hotel companies concentrate more on franchisee relationships instead of on stockholders?
Bloss said there were a multitude of different reasons. “For some hotel groups, they have such a powerful force in the industry that they just, quite frankly, don’t have to. Others with the stringent guidelines and standards they set forth, they truly believe that it is in the best interest of their business model and their customers. On the third side of it, you’ve got companies that have to deliver revenue, have to bring EBITA in order, so sell, sell, sell and cut, cut, cut, and make the EBITA work. So, I think it is a multitude of things depending on the type of company it is—the stature and leadership of the company, and where it stands in that Wall Street market.”
Sparks: Growth being Vantage’s top priority, just how large does Bloss want the system to grow?
“I would like to have total penetration without saturation,” he explains. “What I mean by that is I want to have properties everywhere my customers want them, without impeding my existing members’ businesses. I believe my number can easily double before I face those types of issues. We’ve all seen it; there is a McDonald’s and Starbucks on every corner. At some point that starts to impact one or another of those businesses. I don’t want my people, who have their life savings invested in their business to have the slightest bit of impact. But at the same time, I can’t sacrifice customers’ desires.”
Bloss said growth is important because it keeps your system fresh, it brings it in to new locations, and it brings in new types of properties, new operators. “So, yes, it is important but not for growth sake. I’m not out there trying to be the largest, but I am obviously out there striving to always be the best. The size of my system is irrelevant when compared to how we operate and how we treat our customers,” he adds.
By Janet Sparks June 2010
seen the results, and they’ve seen the savings. So, I think when they have an opportunity to bring more value to their business they take full advantage of that. When you have year-to-year agreements and over 98% of your members renew annually, it speaks volumes about their satisfaction. Happy customers tell their friends.
Half of their growth comes from referrals, according to Bloss. “I have people go to my website, download the paperwork, or fill it out right on the webpage and send it in. They never talk to a development officer. They make up their mind that they want to be a part of it and they join.”
The CEO also does a live web cast every Wednesday. “I invite anybody and everybody that would like to listen to me talk about what we do as a brand for an hour every week. We have a lot of people come on to comparison shop and to hear who I am and how I speak. They want to know my values and what direction our company is taking. It is open so listeners can ask questions during the session. That’s the way we get people interested without having to travel,” he said.
This year Bloss asked his board and the advisory council members if they would have any objection to opening their board meetings to their membership so that they can listen in and submit questions. “They said absolutely not, because they are here to represent the membership.” Bloss said next year they are going to televise the meetings live and broadcast it throughout the entire country. Sparks: Does Bloss feel the pain of AAHOA members in this bad economy?
“Most of these people have immigrated here with little or no resources and the money they have invested in their properties is their life savings. It’s their sweat equity. They built their systems with what they thought would be some pretty good wealth,” the CEO explained. But then they watch 20, 30, 40 or 50 percent of it dissipate in the blink of an eye. Bloss said, “I know. We own a hotel in Las Vegas that for 10 years set occupancy records, revenue records. Today I can’t even generate enough money to pay the utilities. I know their pain.” Again, he feels this is where his company and the Wall Street companies differ. The others may have to write off a million dollars. Bloss said, “Try telling the small business person to write off a million dollars.”
Bloss said the down economy has strengthened Vantage’s relationship with its franchise owners, because they have done some things no other companies would ever dare to do, not just in the hospitality sector but in all of franchising. They instituted two things; one is an ROI program, return on investment, where they promise every member that they will send them more business than they pay them in fees, or they don’t pay Vantage. “No one in any industry would ever guarantee or promise that,” Bloss emphatically states.
“Another thing we did was we created ESPN, economic stimulus plan now. That means, if you are sitting there at your desk paying your bills and you’ve got $10, and your bills are $13, someone is not getting paid. Since our agreements are year-to-year, when the franchisee tells us they can’t pay us for three months until their busy season hits, we say fine. If their agreement expires in December, we tack the three month to the end of their term. Basically, they have an interest-free loan with all the services, and it doesn’t cost them any money, any penalties or interest. All they did was add those months on to the back of their agreement. So that way there’s buy in from both parties. We both attack this economic crisis together, and we’re in it together. Neither one of us has to suffer,” Bloss said.
Sparks: How does Vantage get most of its franchisees? Are they operators who want to leave their current systems and do something different?
Bloss said yes. “A majority of them have had experience with our competitors and they have heard the successes that our members have had. Now going on over ten years, they’ve seen the track record, they’ve seen the culture, they’ve
Vantage partners Gene Kordoban, Roger Bloss visit India.
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As the only hotel company to be featured on the Inc. 500/5000 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies four years in a row, Vantage Hospitality has taken the lodging industry by storm. This recognition places Vantage in the 99th percentile, outperforming 7 million businesses in the U.S. Growing from two to over 1,000 properties in only 12 years, Vantage is the 10th largest hotel company in the world! Our success is in our membership. We give our members a voice and a vote in the Brand’s direction and more resources and revenue channels than any of our competitors. We are honored to be an Inc. 500/5000 Company and recognized as an Innovator of the Lodging Industry. We will continue to encourage our members to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that has put Vantage Hospitality in the spotlight with some of the most successful companies in the world.
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In Business For Yourself, Not By Yourself.
Over 1,000 Properties in 12 Years – an Industry First! INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR Roger Bloss, CEO, President, Founder, Vantage Hospitality Group, was recognized twice as Lodging’s Innovator of the Year. His belief that hotel owners should have a voice and a vote in the brand's direction continues to defy conventional wisdom in the hotel industry.
The10th Largest Hotel Company WorldwideSM
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