Choice Hotels Signs Franchise Agreements With Organizations Led By African-American Women to Develop Six Hotels Across US and Caribbean

USA, Rockville, Maryland. May 08, 2019

Businesses owned by women of color grew three times faster than other women-owned businesses in the United States last year, yet it is estimated by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) that less than one percent of hotels are owned by African-American women. Choice Hotels International, Inc.'s (NYSE: CHH) one-of-a-kind emerging markets franchise development team is helping to bridge this gap and extend the opportunity of hotel ownership to underrepresented populations—most recently by awarding six franchise agreements to organizations led by African-American women to develop new hotels across the U.S. and Caribbean.

"We're thrilled to bring these dynamic women-led organizations into the Choice family and look forward to helping them run profitable and successful hotels," said Lester Adams, director, emerging markets, Choice Hotels. "Franchising is a proven path to the American Dream as it allows entrepreneurs to go into business for themselves but not by themselves—and few industries provide the stability and security of hotel ownership."

"Choice has a long-standing history of successfully recruiting aspiring hoteliers into the lodging industry," said Brian Parker, regional vice president of franchise development and emerging markets, Choice Hotels. "In fact, we're the only lodging company with a team dedicated exclusively to growing a diverse franchisee base. Last year, we executed 19 franchise agreements with underrepresented minority and veteran entrepreneurs and have already signed six more contracts this year."

The new-construction hotels and owners include:

- Comfort Inn & Suites in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands - This hotel is owned by Tamara Lang-Allen, Ph.D., managing director of The Mangrove Eco Boutique Hotel Properties, LLC and director of Hospitality & Tourism Management at the School of Business at University of the Virgin Islands. The 72-room hotel will be nestled in the eastern quadrant of the island, surrounded by tropical landscapes and beautiful beaches. The property will be open to travelers from around the world and serve as a training hotel, providing certifications and licensure to public and private entities as well as schools and universities throughout the Caribbean, mainland, and abroad.

- Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites in Goldsboro, N.C. - A mother-daughter group with experience in restaurants, Toya Evans, Chanel Evans-Grant, and Lauren Williamson of TLC Hospitality Group are developing a four-story, 81-room dual-brand location, which will be in the downtown Goldsboro area and near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

- Comfort Suites in Port Charlotte, Fla. - Owned by Lyndell Mims, president of Lost Lagoon Development, LLP, the new five-story, 120-room Comfort hotel will be adjacent to a water park, restaurants, retail, amphitheater, and a small convention center. The hotel is across the street from Tampa Bay Rays spring training facility and close to the Atlanta Braves new spring training complex, which opened this year.

- Comfort Suites and MainStay Suites in Liberty Township, Ohio - Marsha Ogletree, managing partner of Empire Development Holdings, LLC, has over 30 years of real estate development experience. The new four-story, 129-room dual-brand location is near the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Liberty campus.

"Throughout my career, one of my fundamental objectives has been to develop leaders to grow beyond their current positions, circumstances and limitations," said Tamara Lang-Allen, managing director of The Mangrove ECO Boutique Hotel Properties, LLC. "With a hospitality career spanning over 30 years, it has always been a lifelong dream to own a hotel in my native Virgin Islands. Choice Hotels and the emerging markets team has made that dream a reality. It is also my sincere hope to engage and inspire all women, specifically the younger generation of Virgin Islands, to pursue careers in hospitality, education, and reach their dreams by all means."

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Coming up in August 2019...

Food & Beverage: Millennial Chefs Lead the Way

Led by Millennial chefs, hotels continue to foster sustainability, sourcing and wellness within their dining rooms and banquet spaces, and by all measures, this is responsible for an increase in their revenues. In many hotels, the food & beverage division contributes 50 per cent or more to hotel sales and they are currently experiencing double-digit growth. As a result, hotel owners are allocating an increasing amount of square footage for F&B operations. The biggest area of investment is in catering, which is thriving due to weddings, social events and business conferences. Hotels are also investing in on-site market or convenience stores that offer fresh/refrigerated foods, and buffet concepts also continue to expand. Other popular food trends include a rise of fermented offerings such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and pickles - all to produce the least processed food possible, and to boost probiotics to improve the immune system. Tea is also enjoying something of a renaissance. More people are thinking of tea with the same reverence as coffee due to its many varieties, applications and benefits. Craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and even tea cocktails are beginning to appear on some hotel menus. Another trend concerns creating a unique, individualized and memorable experience for guests. This could be a small consumable item that is specific to a property or event, such as house-made snack mixes, gourmet popcorn, macaroons, or jars of house-made jams, chutneys, and mustards -all produced and customized in house. One staple that is in decline is the in-room minibar which seems to have fallen out of favor. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will document the trends and challenges in the food and beverage sector, and report on what some leading hotels are doing to enhance this area of their business.