1) What is USP of your hotel brand? How are you different from other brands?
The Lexington Collection of Hotels, Plaza Hotels, Boutique Hotels and Resorts is the only membership brand in the three and four star lodging segment. Each hotel is unique and individual; what works in New York may not work in Phoenix and we give our hotel owners complete control over the operation of their properties. They choose the amenities that work best for their market niches. They can choose to keep their existing names or choose a Lexington designation. We offer low fees and short-term contracts and give our members a voice and a vote in the direction of the brand. We do all this while providing the most comprehensive resources in the industry and the backing of Vantage Hospitality – the 11th largest hotel company in the world.
2) What market segment you are targeting? What types of guests do you want to attract?
As a mid to upper-mid scale brand, The Lexington Collection attracts a wide-variety of leisure and business travelers. Each property is different. Our Lexington Hotel Cliffbreakers Riverside Resort in Illinois and the Lexington at Hudson Valley Resort in New York obviously attract families and couples; while our Lexington Hotel Houston Medical Center in Houston caters to the families and patients of the Medical Center.
3) As most of our readers are hotel owners, what are the benefits for our readers to select your brand for their next hotel?
Optional low, flat monthly fee or 3% royalties – the lowest in the industry!
No liquidated damages;
Short-term, renewable contracts;
Freedom to operate your hotel and design custom strategies that allow for maximum return on investment;
A voice and a vote in setting the direction of the brand and its policies;
Choose your identity -
- If you have a hotel with a long-standing reputation and name recognition, you may keep your name and we will use our comprehensive resources to develop an individual plan for you.
- If you would like to rename your hotel to a Lexington designation, we will work directly with you to develop and promote The Lexington Collection name to your current and potential guests. Additionally, as a member of Lexington, you can choose the amenities that best fit your market niche.
Backing and comprehensive resources of Vantage Hospitality – the 11th largest hotel company in the world.
100% Return on Investment Promise – if your Return On Investment doesn’t exceed 100 percent of your membership fees, we will waive your membership fees.
4) In which geographical segment do you want to set-up franchises? Do you have a focus on any specific state or destination?
Hotel owners worldwide are embracing Lexington’s flexible programs and affordable alternative to franchising. Currently, the brand can be found throughout North America and China with plans to continue our rapid expansion throughout India, Eastern Europe and the Middle East as well as continue our progress throughout the US, Canada and Mexico.
5) Can you share some stories of success and failures of your franchises?
We have many success stories – in fact, with nearly 900 members, we have thousands of success stories! But Vantage Hospitality and our brands are best known for taking challenges head on and, through flexibility and adaptability, we have persevered when no one thought we would.
When we started our first brand, Americas Best Value Inn, in 1999, many people tried to discourage us; told us a new national membership brand would never work. However, we didn’t listen, and we certainly didn’t get to where we are today by following the rules.
The old rules of the lodging industry used to be:
- Don’t start a business with your close friends
- Don’t introduce a product into a well-established market
- Don’t expect exceptional growth within the first 10 years
- Don’t let hotel owners run the brand
We broke every one of those rules and look where we are today! We’ve grown from two to nearly 900 properties in only 10 years, making us one of the fastest growing hotel chains in the world!
That perseverance has carried over to the Lexington Collection. We continue to hire the best and brightest talent when other chains are laying off staff, and financially, we continue to have record-breaking quarters even in one of the worst economic times our country has seen. We have a formula for success and it works!
Probably the most significant oversight on our part was when we first started The Lexington Collection in 2007. Initially, we thought it best to distance this upper-mid to upscale brand from Americas Best Value Inn, our limited service brand. However, we soon learned that owners needed reassurance that although The Lexington Collection was a new brand, it was not a new hotel company. Through the establishment of Americas Best Value Inn, Vantage has built the solid foundation that provides outstanding resources and comprehensive programs to build our owners Return on Investment. By promoting the synergy that exists between our two brands, we’ve made each brand stronger in its own way.
6) Do you have any structure or system for franchises to participate in the policy making process of the brand?
For example, Econo Lodge as Econo Lodge Franchise's Association (ELFA).
Member participation is the cornerstone of Vantage’s philosophy – it’s a hotel company run by hotel owners. Input and involvement from members is not only encouraged – it is expected.
Both brands are overseen by a member-led Advisory Board and Advertising Council which meet several times throughout the year to discuss and approve expenditures and opportunities. Vantage is the only large hotel company that does NOT compensate its Board and Council members. These elected members are required to travel, at their own expense, to the annual December conference in Las Vegas and a Spring Board Conference in Coral Springs. They also must be available for phone conferences and any other incidental travel that may occur during the year.
I don’t want these elected members to feel indebted to me or my staff because Vantage paid for their conference expenses. I want them to tell me what I need to know – not what I want to hear. And they can only do that by representing the members in their regions without any outside influence.
During the December conference, both brands present voting topics that are discussed openly within the respective membership and require a minimum 66 percent approval before passing. Administrators and staff are not allowed to vote and must abide by the membership’s final decision.
Even an increase in fees must be approved by a majority – something most hotel chains would never attempt. Our members are first and foremost business owners. They know how much money they bring in and how much they can afford to spend. If I can’t trust them to do what’s right for their business and our brand, who can I trust?
7) In your view, list the 3 top qualities that franchisees must have to be successful with your brand.
Confidence. Our members are not part of some cookie-cutter brand. Each and every property is different and we want members who are confident in their uniqueness. We will not tell you, or mandate to you, how to run your hotel, but we will be by your side every step of the way.
Active. Our most successful members are the ones who actively participate on our Advisory Board or Advertising Council, come to the annual December conference, and make their voices heard throughout the year. I have a very strong open-door policy and I love it when a member calls me to discuss a concern, bounce a new idea around, or just to say hello. Open communication in combination with active participation is the foundation of success. Like everything in life – you get out of it what you put into it.
Common Sense. Particularly in the current economic times, hotel owners must get back to the basics in order to stay profitable and competitive. You don’t need fancy amenity packages, deep discounted rooms, or outrageous loyalty programs. You simply need excellent customer service, clean guest rooms, and a property that is properly maintained both inside and out. This is pure common sense. You must educate your staff, treat them well and empower them to make good decisions. Think about what is most important to you when choosing a hotel and make your hotel reflect that.
8) What are your plans to market Your Brand on the Internet?
Vantage and its brands have always been proactive, so Internet marketing is something that we have been active in for quite some time. Through comprehensive search engine marketing strategies including organic search, paid search (PPC), local search, meta search (e.g. Kayah, SideStep, etc.), mobile search, Web 2.0 search (e.g. TripAdvisor), email marketing, online sponsorships, displace advertising (banners, etc), strategic linking, customer segmentation, and feeder market initiatives we are able to drive direct booking to our brand website ( www.LexingtonHotels.com and www.AmericasBestValueInn.com ).
9) How important is Internet marketing to your Brand for overall strategy?
Internet marketing is extremely important and will grow more powerful in the next few years. However, we need to remember the importance of face-to-face relationships as well. Whether it’s our sales team on the road meeting with prospective members or the front desk person greeting a new guest with a smile, we need to cultivate our personal relationships with people. Therefore, I like to combine our marketing efforts with a mix of communication methods – Internet, personal, print, radio, promotions, and PR.
10) What do you feel about mobile Internet? Will travelers start booking hotels through mobile by 2015?
I think mobile reservations will be a mainstay long before 2015. Cellular phones outnumber land lines and unlike some technology that only reaches middle and upper class citizens, the cellular phone has transcended every socio-economic segment. According to a 2008 article in USA Today, more than 31% of people surveyed used their cell phone to text on a regular basis. I’m confident that number has grown even higher since last year. Any company – hotel or otherwise – must be prepared to embrace the mobile technology to remain competitive.
11) Do you have plans to offer your brand outside United States?
Hotel owners worldwide are embracing Lexington’s and Americas Best Value Inn’s flexible programs and affordable alternative to franchising. Currently, the brand can be found throughout North America and China, with plans to continue its rapid expansion throughout India, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
For more information: Call: 888-582-2378
Visit: www.LexingtonCollection.com & www.AmericasBestValueInn.com