Choice Hotels Hosts “SOAR” Seminar to Attract, Mentor, and Educate Underrepresented Groups


Ahead of its 68th Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, Choice Hotels International, Inc. hosted its SOAR (Supporting Ownership Access & Representation) development seminar to reintroduce its program to create hotel ownership opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs. During the seminar, Choice reaffirmed its more than 20-year commitment to making small business ownership a reality for entrepreneurs who are underrepresented as hotel owners and operators including black, Hispanic, and Native Americans, as well as women and veterans. Choice continued its path towards strengthening the pipeline of female franchisees by hosting the second annual HERtels by Choice Hotels luncheon, a program that empowers female entrepreneurs throughout their ownership journey.

The full-day development seminar, attended by prospective and current owners and operators, featured a Q&A with former NFL player and Comfort Inn and Mainstay Suites owner Chinedum Ndukwe; discussions about breaking barriers to entry within the industry; and an evening networking reception.

“As the first hotel company to establish a dedicated development team solely focused on extending the opportunity of hotel ownership to underrepresented populations, the SOAR team will continue to open doors for underrepresented minority entrepreneurs, including women and veterans,” said John Lancaster, vice president, emerging markets, franchise development, and owner relations, Choice Hotels International. “For over 20 years, Choice has seen success and the direct impact of this program, having proudly awarded over 370 franchise agreements to diverse participants since the program started.”

The SOAR program hosted its second annual HERtels by Choice Hotels luncheon and seminar at Choice’s Convention. The event brings together seasoned owners and potential owners for an afternoon of networking, mentorship, and conversations about the barriers to entry for women owners in hospitality. In 2023, Choice’s Emerging Markets program, now SOAR, awarded nine Black and African American franchise deals and 17 deals through the HERtels program. Since the HERtels program launched in 2021, 80 women have participated in the program leading to 59 new female-owned hotels.

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