Sonesta launches global franchising push

The RLH Corp. acquisition added more than 900 franchised locations to Sonesta International Hotels Corp.’s global footprint. Photo credit: RLH Corp. (Shiflett returns to RLH after having worked as the company's CFO from 2010 to December 2014.)

Sonesta International Hotels Corp. has launched its renewed global hotel franchising organization. The launch comes less than 10 days after Sonesta completed its acquisition of RLH Corp. in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $90 million. That deal added more than 900 franchised locations to the company’s existing global footprint for a total of approximately 1,200 franchised and managed properties with more than 100,000 guestrooms in the portfolio.

The new franchise organization is led by Keith Pierce, who was named EVP, president franchise & development, upon closing of the Red Lion acquisition earlier this month. John J. Russell Jr., CEO of RLH, will continue to support Sonesta leadership through the transition until April 30.

Sonesta has seen a 350 percent increase in hotels since mid-2020. In December, 99 hotels rebranded from IHG to Sonesta after 98 Marriott hotels were scheduled to join the rapidly growing brand in October. “Over the last six months, we have nearly quadrupled our presence in North America, added over 200 hotels to our national portfolio, and launched two new hotel brands: Sonesta Simply Suites and Sonesta Select,” said Carlos Flores, Sonesta's president and CEO.   

Brian Quinn

Brian Quinn
Brian Quinn. Photo credit: Sonesta International Hotels Corp.

Sonesta has appointed Brian Quinn as chief development officer to lead the company’s franchise growth effort. Quinn has more than 20 years of senior development and sales management experience, including nearly three years as chief franchise sales officer at Red Lion. Quinn is active in numerous industry and civic organizations and is a current board member of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. 

“Brian brings a breadth of experience from several leading hotel industry brands that we expect will help accelerate our footprint across global markets,” Pierce said. “Sonesta offers unmatched value and benefits to the franchise community and we plan to leverage these advantages to expand franchise offerings to include the existing Sonesta brands. The expansion of our development organization under Brian is a key component of our future success.”

“Fortified with a new world-class leadership team, we expect the renewed team’s efforts to improve Sonesta’s growth trajectory,” Flores said. “As our reach as a brand continues to expand across the globe, we are even more focused on providing an unparalleled level of service and support to our franchise community, buoyed by expanded economies of scale, robust purchasing power, and materially improved operational efficiencies. Today’s announcement is another significant milestone in Sonesta’s continuing evolution as an industry leader.”