Choice Hotels Opens Learning Center To Train Franchisees, Corporate Staff

Silver Spring, MD? Choice Hotels International recently launched a Learning Center at its headquarters here. The 11,000-square-foot facility will offer educational programs for Choice?s 4,000 franchisees, 550 locally-based corporate employees and community groups. The new Learning Center will host training programs to help franchisee owners of Comfort, Quality, Clarion, Sleep Inn, Rodeway Inn, Econo Lodge and MainStay Suites brand hotels operate their businesses profitably, noted Charles Ledsinger, president/CEO of Choice. The facility is ?a critical milestone in Choice?s mission to ensure the success of our franchisees,? Ledsinger said. The Learning Center is located in one of the three buildings that comprise the 200,000-square-foot Choice Centre complex. It is equipped with a large-screen video room with THX sound system, video conferencing capabilities and ?smart? podiums that control audio visual and lighting equipment. In addition, the center has a computer-based lab, a 2,700-square-foot dividable auditorium for large group discussions and multiple break-out rooms. Construction of the $2.5 million Learning Center follows a $19 million renovation of the entire Choice Centre complex that included renovation of office space and the addition of a 300-car parking garage. The new ?Total Lodging by Choice? owner and general manager training program will be conducted at the Learning Center. The week-long program, which is mandatory for all new franchisees entering the Choice system, incorporates a case-study methodology and offers in-depth courses on marketing, reservations, operations, staffing, guest relations and budgeting. Ledsinger said the program is designed to help franchisees leverage Choice?s ?proven business systems, proprietary technology and strategic partnerships to succeed in today?s competitive marketplace.? Programs for corporate employees slated for the Learning Center include management seminars and technology training. In addition, Choice has contracted with the University of Maryland and Montgomery College to offer on-site college level coursework for company employees. The Learning Center will be available for non-profit community organizations or agencies in need of meeting space, according to Ledsinger. Choice Chairman Stewart Bainum Jr. said the opening of the Learning Center will create 200 additional jobs in Montgomery County over the next decade and will also bring in ?significant revenues? with an estimated 2,000 annual trainees spending $5 million per year at local hotels, restaurants and other area businesses. The hotel company has had its corporate headquarters in the county for the past 32 years. Choice Hotels International has more than 5,000 hotels open and under development in 36 countries.