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Hotel, hospitality and travel

Value Place Hotel-Apartments Gain 350 Franchise Commitments

Here's an interesting opportunity. Wichita-based Value Place hotel-apartment chain has a franchise concept as a "short-term residential" hotel-apartment combination, and has received some 350 franchise commitments for properties in 27 states. Its executives expect that the fairly new firm of three years will have 60 franchise and corporate-owned properties by the end of 2006, up from 14 now.

The founder of this new chain is Jack DeBoer, who created such brands as Residence Inn, Summerfield Suites and Candlewood Suites.

Value Place president and franchisee Gina-Lynne Scharoun told real estate journal GlobeSt.com

Hotels Take 'Know Your Customer' To A New Level

"American hoteliers just don't get the details of individual consumers", said a Japanese executive to me many years ago. He continued, "I love our [Japanese] hotels because they anticipate to the finest detail what I want before I even realize I want it."

I thought politely to myself, "what Japanese hotels are these because the one's I know sure aren't anticipating my needs."

Hertz Tightens Car Policy

Hertz is tightening up its car rental policies for its Gold members that will take effect after they receive notice in the mail. Unlike the past, Gold members will now be liable for loss or damage to the rental car, regardless of cause. Secondly, Gold renters will be charged any over time the rental is parked outside a closed Hertz' office. The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Hertz Corp. is making some potentially costly changes to its most loyal customers' rentals. For frequent renters, this means that Hertz -- one of the last rental-car companies to have such lenient terms and conditions -- is conforming with its more restrictive competitors."

The Russians Are Coming And They're Paying Top Dollar

Remember when the Japanese came and payed top dollar to travel in style? Well, according to the Wall Street Journal [$$] the Russians are "the next Japanese". Russians are traveling overseas increasingly in style. This is a surprising development considering that the average Russian income is $300 per month but the new middle class and wealthy are heading out in numbers to Europe, Bali and even the States.

The Big Easy Money

New Orleans hoteliers are nervous about a plan by Mayor Ray Nagin to bring gambling to the city. According to the Wall Street Journal, (subscription needed for all these WSJ links) the plan is designed to bring revenue, employment and taxes back to the city.

"The plan has been greeted with caution by hotel operators who might benefit. Major hotel companies including Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., Global Hyatt Corp., Hilton Hotels Corp., Host Marriott Corp. and Marriott International Inc., all said it was premature to comment on casinos in the city."

Katrina to Give U.S. Hotel Franchises a Boost

Well, this is a surprise after all the horror stories of Hurricane Katrina wreaking havoc on the economy. Smith Travel Research firm announced that occupancies in hotels for the rest of the country that were not closed due to the hurricane will be substantially above average for the year. It increased its 2005 growth in revenue for the U.S. hotel industry.