Choice Hotels CEO Joyce Discusses Vision For Company’s Future

Travel Weekly:

quotation.jpg Longtime Marriott executive Steve Joyce took over as CEO of Choice Hotels International last year. Choice has performed better than many large hotel companies during the downturn, thanks to its franchising business model and the fact that most of its properties are moderately priced, leisure-oriented hotels. Its brands include Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn and Rodeway Inn as well as two new, more upscale brands, Cambria Suites and the Ascend Collection of independent historical and boutique properties. Hotels Editor Jeri Clausing talked with Joyce about where he wants to take the company. Choice Hotels franchise

Q: It seems like Choice has held up fairly well during the downturn.

A: If you are going to be someplace when things are bad, this is really good place to be. Comparatively, we are holding up remarkably well, and we’re in an enviable position of having lots of capital and still being profitable.

Q: What are you going to do with all that money?

A: We are looking to buy some brands. The first priority always is the redistribution to shareholders. That’s priority one. … We think we are going to see some multi-unit transactions that maybe we can play in, and we are waiting to see if some portfolios are going back to banks.

Q: Which brands are you looking at?

A: Red Lion has been floated. Red Roof … and then [the media] “announced” that Hilton is going to be selling off its brands.

Q: Hilton has denied those rumors. But if it were, what brands would you want?

A: Doubletree.

Q: So does that mean you want to broaden your portfolio?

A: Yes. We’ve got a number of things going on with the brands.

The clear opportunity where we don’t play at all is upscale and upper-upscale product. Cambria is an upscale product. It is the second entrant after Comfort. And then there is the Ascend piece. I think it is really innovative. There is not another major hotel company that is doing a pure distribution sales play, and that is what Ascend is.

We don’t care about who you are or what your name is. We care about the quality of the hotels and the service model. If those are fine, we can support those hotels. A lot of independent hotels aren’t doing so well. We have massive demand generation. We can bring them into our distribution system and significantly help those hotels and at the same time let them retain their individual identity.

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