NABHOOD: Success in Minority Franchising

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

A TEN-YEAR PERSPECTIVE

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.

1. CHANGING ATTITIUDES & TIMES

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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Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.