LAS VEGAS—At its first brand conference since 2019, held here at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Choice Hotels International has introduced HERtels by Choice, a program designed to provide dedicated training, education, mentorship and financial assistance to advance and empower women entrepreneurs and ensure they thrive as franchisees of the company.
“For any entrepreneur, starting a new business can be a daunting, capital-intensive endeavor, but the fact remains that compared to their male counterparts, women face drastically different lending terms and conditions,” said Patrick Pacious, president/CEO, Choice Hotels. “We know there are many women entrepreneurs who are eager to break into the rewarding hotel industry, yet lack the financing, connections or knowledge to do so, which is why we are proud to build on our industry-leading emerging markets development program with this initiative.”
According to the 2022 Castell Project Women in Hospitality Industry Leadership Report, for every nine men, there is only one woman who enters into hotel investment and development across the hospitality industry. HERtels by Choice actively seeks to change this widespread discrepancy by addressing the most common barriers women entrepreneurs face when owning and operating a hotel, the company reports.
The HERtels by Choice program leverages a multi-faceted approach and turnkey solutions to advance and empower women hotel ownership:
- In-house financing support—In addition to enhanced financing incentives, the program provides prospective hoteliers access to designated Choice Hotels associates who work individually with entrepreneurs to help them strengthen their application package, facilitate the lending process and educate them on equitable financing terms.
- Dedicated training and education—Upon joining the Choice Hotels system, HERtels by Choice franchisees automatically gain access to the company’s Choice University learning platform, as well as program-specific trainings designed to optimize their onboarding and operating journey.
- Personalized mentoring and networking—Acknowledging a common obstacle to first-time hotel ownership is a lack of industry connections, the program provides prospective owners with access to executive coaching from industry veterans and connects the next generation of hoteliers with current Choice owners to leverage best practices and build confidence.
Since last March, as part of a focused effort to increase female ownership—and subsequently lay the groundwork for the HERtels by Choice program—the company has awarded 25 contracts specifically to women entrepreneurs.
“The central tenets of the HERtels by Choice program—connecting and empowering—are not new to Choice,” said John Lancaster, VP, emerging markets, franchise development and owner relations, Choice Hotels. “For decades, we’ve helped deserving, growth-minded entrepreneurs enter the rewarding business of hotel ownership with industry-leading tools, support and resources. HERtels by Choice represents an important next step in our mission to fuel a diverse owner base and small business success. Whether a seasoned hotel general manager wanting to take her career to a new level or an existing business owner looking to shift into hospitality for the first time, Choice Hotels is proud to support the next generation of women owners through this expanded program.”
In addition to HERtels by Choice, the company continues to foster female hotel ownership through sponsorships and support at women-focused conferences on hotel ownership, including She Has a Deal, an education and investment platform for aspiring women hotel investors and developers; Fortuna’s Table, an online community for diverse potential hotel owners to learn, inspire, network, plan and collaborate on the path to hotel investment and ownership; and the Black Girls In Real Estate Conference.