NABHOOD: Success in Minority Franchising

By Gerald Fernandez, Sr. President & Founder, Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance | October 28, 2008


First, let me say that I am not a hotel operator by training. I did not grow up in the family motel business and I did not attend college to become a future star of the lodging industry. I have, however, come to love the hotel business. I believe that if someone had introduced me to the business as a young man, my goal in life would have been to become a general manager of a major hotel property. But that is a story for another time.

For ten years, MFHA has been promoting the concept of diversity and inclusion as a key management strategy in the hospitality and foodservice industry. During this time, we have seen significant progress made in the areas of minority worker recruitment, diverse and under-leveraged community marketing and minority franchising.

According to NABHOOD (National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers) there are more than 200 African-American owned hotels. Consider that it was less than a dozen just ten years ago. Why has Black hotel ownership increased so dramatically? I believe that there are seven reasons for this success.


Changing times in America have opened up dialog around creating wealth in under-leveraged communities. Simply put, the hardcore "racial red-liners" of an older generation are retiring, being pushed out and literally are dying off. Their children and grandchildren do not harbor the hatred and bigotry that once fueled discrimination against non-whites in business. Also, more and more leaders today have had multicultural experiences and therefore are not afraid to talk about and work on race issues.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.