On Monday, November 14, Red Roof welcomed hundreds of franchisees, team members, and partners to Dallas for its 2021 Regional Meeting at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center. The event follows another regional meeting held in Atlanta and is the first major company event taking place under the company’s newly appointed president, George Limbert, who had previously been serving as interim president and, prior to that, general counsel.
While his most recent experience has been on the legal side, Limbert noted that his roots run deep in hospitality—his grandfather was a hotel owner and franchisee and Limbert worked for over two years at a full-service Holiday Inn during college. To stay grounded and prepare himself to take the helm as president of the company, Limbert embarked on a “Look & Listen” tour. He is now in the process of visiting properties nationwide, connecting with property-level teams to learn about their issues, challenges, and concerns as well as the best practices they have put in place that have proven successful for their properties and could potentially be scaled across the entire portfolio.
“I’ve done the job before; I’ve cleaned hotel rooms before, and so I know what it’s like,” Limbert told LODGING. He explained that Red Roof’s executives make a point to be accessible to franchisees, and he plans to do the same. “My intention and my goals are to never sit up in a tower and dictate. The Look & Listen tour is to hear what’s going on and see for myself what the challenges are and what we can do and how we can craft our brand standards to provide support.”
Limbert spelled-out his vision to those attending the regional meeting: “To provide the best experience and value in the lodging industry for our guests, owners, team members, partners, and communities.” Delivering on that vision, he noted during the opening general session, means listening and learning from franchisees and other stakeholders and reevaluating existing policies and procedures to further evolve the company. Among policies that are “on the table” for consideration is a longtime pet policy that allows guests’ furry companions to stay for free. The company has researched the impact of a potential policy change to guest loyalty and is in the process of hearing input from franchisees.
These conversations are coming after a successful year during which Red Roof’s portfolio, on average, surpassed 2019 performance for average daily rate (ADR), revenue per available room (RevPAR), and revenue. Year to date (YTD) through September, portfolio-wide occupancy was just 0.4 percent shy of its comparable 2019 level (63 percent vs. 64 percent), ADR was up 4.8 percent over 2019, ($63.92 vs. $60.98), RevPAR was up 3.8 percent ($40.47 vs. $39.13), and revenue was up 13 percent ($657 million vs. $582 million).
As 2021 winds down, the company is planning to further its growth. Across Red Roof’s four brands—Red Roof, Red Roof PLUS+, The Red Collection, and HomeTowne Studios—there are now 667 total open hotels. So far this year, the company has executed 72 franchise agreements, including 11 HomeTowne Studios—a recently launched extended-stay brand that Red Roof is particularly focused on growing. Available for conversions as well as new builds, HomeTowne Studios recently introduced a revamped prototype in August that is designed to drive efficiencies amid ongoing construction, procurement, and operational challenges.
Within its existing portfolio, the company is also focusing on bringing quality back to pre-pandemic levels. Amid cutbacks and ongoing staffing issues, Red Roof Executives Fouad Malouf, senior vice president of franchise operations, and Steve Woodward, vice president of quality, training, and development, shared some of the resources that are available to franchisees while asking hoteliers in attendance at the regional meeting what best practices and approaches have proven successful in recruiting and retaining employees. Limbert noted that during his Look & Listen tour, he witnessed the labor challenges hoteliers are facing and how the problem is exacerbated when staff are not available to focus on finding, recruiting, and onboarding individuals. Even so, he said, hoteliers are persevering and finding creative ways to respond to current challenges.
“We’ve got the most resilient franchisees, general managers, and team members,” Limbert told LODGING. His biggest takeaway for attendees at the meeting, he said, is the importance of alignment and moving forward together. “Red Roof is thinking about everyone—not just the guest and not just the franchisee, but our team members as well. With the labor challenge, team members are absolutely imperative. The housekeeper is the most important person at the property. Getting that room clean and providing that experience at a good value is of the utmost importance for all of us. The key is bringing these groups together and everybody understanding that we’re in this together, we’re going to move forward together, and we’re going to do great things together.”