Las Vegas – Vantage Hospitality Group is celebrating 15 years as a company, and in that time, while the hotel industry has changed, Vantage has remained true to its cause: members come first.
That set the stage for Vantage’s 2014 conference at the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, where the themes were aplenty, but one was resounding—that of educating, not mandating, as company founder and CEO Roger Bloss is fond of saying.
To the audience of members representing Vantage’s some 10 brands, Bloss reiterated the company’s Brand Members’ Bill of Rights, which, along with a preamble, lists 10 total articles, first and foremost: “The right to be in business for myself, not by myself.”
The subsequent rights as noted: (2) the right to a voice and a vote; (3) the right to be educated, without mandate; (4) the right to associate; (5) the right to choose; (6) the right to an ROI; (7) the right to a fair grievance procedure; (8) the right to fix mistakes; (9) the right to all access; and (10) the right to equal treatment and dignity.
Such are the rights afforded to Vantage members, who were in Las Vegas to be apprised of new growth strategies. “We focus on you, not Wall Street,” said Bloss of the private company, which got into the business in 1999.
Bernie Moyle, Vantage’s COO and CFO, posed this question: “How do we continue taking you to the next level?”
One way was via Vantage’s summer blockbuster deal to acquire America’s Best Franchising’s brands: America’s Best Inns & Suites, Country Hearth Inns & Suites, Jameson Inn, Jameson Suites, Signature Inn and 3 Palms Hotels & Resorts. The brands, spread out among the upper-midscale, midscale and economy chain scales, allows Vantage to reach into segments it previously wasn’t operating in.
Now, work is going on to absorb and transition those brands and hotels into the Vantage system, and that means figuring out what to do with each brand.
First is by defining leadership. Mark Williams was brought in to lead Vantage’s midscale and upscale brands; Patrick Mullinix does the same for Vantage’s value brands; and Bill Hanley is president of international development.
“We are expanding the brands through stratification,” explained Williams, who added that he came to Vantage due to the membership vision and feeling of fairness, wherein “all members pay the same low fees and there are no unreasonable PIPs.”
“We are seeking steady and quality growth, particularly for the Americas Best Value Inn and Lexington brands, which now offer new design prototypes,” said Bloss. “We need to build some Lexingtons. We are confident in the new prototype. We are going to put shovels in the ground.”
Vantage’s most prominent brand, ABVI, will continue to expand in 2015, Bloss said. “ABVI growth and conversion continue to roll in as owners are fed up with other franchises. We are welcoming larger properties and saying goodbye to those that don’t meet our standards,” he said.
Meanwhile, as Moyle told it, the focus for Vantage right now is figuring out what brand makes sense for each member hotel. “Much of our strength comes from flexibility,” he said. “Soon you can request to move to another brand,” he told the members.
One thing is for sure, since America’s Best Inns & Suites is so close in likeness to ABVI, the probability is that those hotels—there are around 85—will shift to become ABVIs or other Vantage brands, Moyle said.
Meanwhile, there will be a big push to grow the Jameson Inn brand, which currently consists of around 25 hotels. “Distribution comes in two forms: bringing heads to bed and the ability to grow the brand,” Moyle said.
Now, Vantage feels it is well established with a strong presence in the budget through upscale segments. Signature Inn in budget; ABVI, CBVI and America’s Best Inns and Suites in mid-economy; Country Hearth in the upper economy/lower midscale space; Jameson Inn in midscale; Lexington and 3 Palms in upscale; and Lexington Legacy as its soft brand.
For 2015, Vantage’s development plan is thus, remarked Moyle: 1) remain who we are; 2) continue to listen to members; 3) expand brands worldwide; 4) continue offering the best ROI in brand affiliations; and 5) work on franchise registry.
“It’s a competitive industry,” Bloss said. “We must continue to gain more momentum to punch it in the end zone and crush the competition.”
Vantage brands currently represent 1,217 hotels in total. Of that total, the majority (1,004 hotels) are ABVI, CBVI and VIWW.
The votes are in
Vantage Hospitality Group, being a membership organization, is like any democracy: it votes on measures and only adopts them if they pass a certain threshold. In the case of Vantage, that number is 66.7 percent. Here are the results of five new proposals.
Proposed Resolution 1: As of January 1, 2016, all members must provide high-quality, wireless, commercial-grade high-speed Internet access in guestrooms and common areas, with the ability to charge for use at the discretion of each member. PASSED: 85 percent in favor.
Proposed Resolution 2: Beginning January 2015, all members must report their rooms sold and gross room revenue to STR as part of its free hotel survey by the 10th of each month. FAILED: 52 percent in favor.
Proposed Resolution 3: It is resolved that IMSF.1 (Internet Marketing Surcharge Fund) be extended through December 31, 2018. PASSED: 79 percent in favor.
Proposed Resolution 3A: It is resolved that the sunset clauses for both the IMSF.1 and IMSF.2 will be removed, and the $1/room/month for each fund will be incorporated into the marketing budget. PASSED: 74 percent in favor.
Proposed Resolution 4: It is resolved that the monthly marketing fees be increased by $1.00/room/month for 2016, 2017 and 2018. PASSED: 77 percent
Proposed Resolution 5: As of January 1, 2016, all members must migrate to a Vantage-approved PMS. FAILED: 52 percent in favor