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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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.