Choice Hotels Is Working to Bridge Diversity Gap in the Industry

NATIONAL REPORT—Businesses owned by women of color grew three times faster than other women-owned businesses in the United States last year, yet it is estimated by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) that less than 1% of hotels are owned by African-American women.

Choice Hotels International Inc.’s emerging markets franchise development team is helping to bridge this gap and extend the opportunity of hotel ownership to underrepresented populations—most recently by awarding six franchise agreements to organizations led by African-American women to develop new hotels across the U.S. and Caribbean.

“We’re thrilled to bring these dynamic women-led organizations into the Choice family and look forward to helping them run profitable and successful hotels,” said Lester Adams, director, emerging markets, Choice Hotels. “Franchising is a proven path to the American Dream as it allows entrepreneurs to go into business for themselves but not by themselves—and few industries provide the stability and security of hotel ownership.”

“Choice has a long-standing history of successfully recruiting aspiring hoteliers into the lodging industry,” said Brian Parker, regional VP of franchise development and emerging markets, Choice Hotels. “In fact, we’re the only lodging company with a team dedicated exclusively to growing a diverse franchisee base. Last year, we executed 19 franchise agreements with underrepresented minority and veteran entrepreneurs and have already signed six more contracts this year.”

The new-construction hotels and owners include:

Comfort Inn & Suites in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

This hotel is owned by Tamara Lang-Allen, Ph.D., managing director of The Mangrove Eco Boutique Hotel Properties LLC and director of hospitality & tourism management at the School of Business at University of the Virgin Islands. The 72-room hotel will be nestled in the eastern quadrant of the island, surrounded by tropical landscapes and beautiful beaches. The property will be open to travelers from around the world and serve as a training hotel, providing certifications and licensure to public and private entities as well as schools and universities throughout the Caribbean, mainland, and abroad.

Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites in Goldsboro, NC

A mother-daughter group with experience in restaurants, Toya Evans, Chanel Evans-Grant, and Lauren Williamson of TLC Hospitality Group are developing a four-story, 81-room dual-brand location, which will be in the downtown Goldsboro area and near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Comfort Suites in Port Charlotte, FL

Owned by Lyndell Mims, president of Lost Lagoon Development LLP, the new five-story, 120-room Comfort hotel will be adjacent to a water park, restaurants, retail, amphitheater, and a small convention center. The hotel is across the street from Tampa Bay Rays spring training facility and close to the Atlanta Braves new spring training complex, which opened this year.

Comfort Suites and MainStay Suites in Liberty Township, OH

Marsha Ogletree, managing partner of Empire Development Holdings LLC, has more than 30 years of real estate development experience. The new four-story, 129-room dual-brand location is near the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Liberty campus.

“Throughout my career, one of my fundamental objectives has been to develop leaders to grow beyond their current positions, circumstances and limitations,” said Tamara Lang-Allen, managing director of The Mangrove ECO Boutique Hotel Properties LLC. “With a hospitality career spanning over 30 years, it has always been a lifelong dream to own a hotel in my native Virgin Islands. Choice Hotels and the emerging markets team has made that dream a reality. It is also my sincere hope to engage and inspire all women, specifically the younger generation of Virgin Islands, to pursue careers in hospitality, education, and reach their dreams by all means.”

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