The Best Hotel FACs

Some hotel franchise advisory councils, where franchise owners advise their franchisors, are better than others. Here’s the best of them and why.

1. International Association of Holiday Inns (IAHI)- created by Kemmons Wilson in 1956, it claims to be an independent association.  Despite its good works and its valuable voice, it nevertheless does not meet the test of a completely independent franchise owners association.  For example:

  • The IAHI office is located in Holiday Inn headquarters
  • Five members of the IAHI Board are appointed by the InterContinental Hotel Group and are not elected by members
  • Important issues like areas of protection, encroachment and impact, termination and liquidated damages are essentially determined by IHG.
  • Impact studies are done by in-house Holiday Inn employees

Nevertheless, I would characterize the IAHI as the oldest and one of the most effective FACs in the hotel industry.

2.  Choice Hotel Owners Council (CHOC) formed in 1967 to create a unified voice for owners of Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Clarion, MainStay Suites, Quality and Sleep Hotels.  The mission of CHOC is to represent the Licensees of the Company through a unified voice, protecting the greater interest of its members by providing ideas, advocacy programs and services.  The country is divided into thirteen regions, with a Regional Director elected from each Region to represent its Licensees.  Every year CHOC holds an annual conference to review Choice policies and to criticize how Choice Hotels International conducts business with its franchisees.  This annual Owners’s Summit is a perfect place for Choice owners to express their frustrations, blow off steam, and to make recommendations to bring the Choice franchise agreement in closer alliance with AAHOAs 12 Points of Fair Franchising, CHOC’s Summit works well as a relief value to give voice to franchisee frustrations.  But unfortunately, since Choice pays many of the expenses, the ultimate outcome of the Summit is predictable with only minor improvements in the franchise agreement.  The CHOC FAC is mostly advisory with no real power to negotiate as an equal partner but, as I observed first hand as a featured speaker in 2007 and 2008 it provides a good forum to raise major issues for negotiation with Choice management.

My recommendations to all the other hotel franchise advisory councils:

  • Follow the IAHI and CHOC models
  • Become as independent as possible
  • Establish a separate headquarter office with your own executive director
  • Form a purchasing coop
  • Negotiate fair franchising clauses into your franchise agreement using AAHOAs 12 Points as a guide and model

About the author: Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC operates his hotel consulting office as a sole practitioner specializing in franchising issues, asset management and litigation support services. Turkel’s clients are hotel owners and franchisees, investors and lending institutions. Turkel serves on the Board of Advisors and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. He is a member of the prestigious International Society of Hospitality Consultants. His provocative articles on various hotel subjects have been published in Blue MauMau, the Cornell Quarterly, Lodging Hospitality, Hotel Interactive, Hotel-Online, AAHOA Lodging Business, etc. Don’t hesitate to call 917-628-8549 or email stanturkel@aol.com

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