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Mike Leven Headlines ABF Owners Conference

Friday September 6th, 2013 - 9:52AM


Mike Leven

ATLANTA—Always find a way to do what the customer wants.

That was among the advice offered by hospitality industry icon Mike Leven yesterday to hotel owners who gathered at the America’s Best Franchising annual owners meeting at Emory Conference Center, here.

Other tips from Leven included: Be willing to do things differently than they’ve been done in the past and be unwilling to accept that things can’t be done better.

The lessons were part of almost 60 minutes in anecdotal recollections and reminisces that Leven shared from his 50-year career, which started in sales promotion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City and has included positions as  president of Days Inn of America; president and CEO of Holiday Inn Worldwide; and president and CEO of U.S. Franchising.

Leven’s remarks were the climax to a two-day conference of about 200 owners, who also heard from Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA; Chip Rogers, director of government affairs for AAHOA; and Dr. Rajeev Dhawan, director of economic forecasting at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. The agenda also featured panels about online marketing and deal-making.

The conference was a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary, which began modestly with four properties in Ohio and has grown to 256 properties operating primarily in the United States and also in China, India, Nigeria, Canada and Belize under five brands: America’s Best Inns & Suites, Budgetel Inns & Suites, Country Hearth Inns & Suites, Jameson Inns and 3 Palms Hotels & Resorts.