Service Counts

Choice Hotels International Inc. prides itself on its relationship-building efforts. According to francishees, the extra effort is paying off.Take Dave Swift, owner of the 105-key Cambria Suites in Appleton, Wis. The president & CEO of Swift Hospitality Group took a chance on Choice’s new upscale brand, which is geared toward Generation X travelers. Swift believes the brand will find fans among travelers of all ages and has already heard praise from many guest on the all-suites hotel’s design. The Appleton property, which opened in 2007, was the second Cambria Suites to launch. “We get comments from our guests who say it feels a lot like home,” he said. It takes a leap of faith for a developer to build a fledgling-brand hotel, Swift observed, but he said he found Choice to be a strong partner in the effort. Choice executives, he said, have proven particularly helpful in the pre-development phase, including site location. “They have a lot of support services in place,” he said. “Their level of support for the brand has been astronomical.”Now Swift is building a 137-key Cambria Suites outside Chicago–in Schaumburg, Ill. He has committed to build six in total. GriffinStafford Developments has found other Choice services to be positives. Partner Doug Stafford pointed to the marketing clout that Choice provides through its advertising support, reservation system and Web site as benefits to his company’s two suburban extended-stay hotels, one in Concord, N.C., near the entrance to Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and another that just opened in North Charleston, S.C.Stafford said current support has proven significantly stronger than that offered by the brand’s previous owner, Suburban Franchise Systems Inc. Choice acquired the brand in 2005 for $10.5 million. Stafford recalled a telling comment from Choice vice chairman & CEO Charles Ledsinger at a franchisee dinner shortly after the acquisition. “He said, ‘Choice is a very pro-franchisee company.’ ”For more on Choice’s launch of Cambria Suites and its growth strategy, see the May 2008 issue of CPN or search for key words “Suite Spot” in quotation marks.