Vantage Hospitality celebrated its coming of age at the company’s brand conference last week in Las Vegas. Since the launch of its first brand, Americas Best Value Inn in 1999, Vantage has rapidly become a real force to be reckoned with. This was apparent in July, when Vantage acquired America’s Best Franchising’s six core brands and its 200-plus hotels, raising its franchise portfolio to 1,207 properties. The acquisition allows Vantage to hit market segments it previously wasn’t operating in.
At the Vantage conference, members got their first look at how the new flags would be incorporated into the company’s existing brand lineup. The answer was presented as two separate groups, one focused on the value brands and the other on the midscale and upscale brands. The only brand orphaned during the acquisition was America’s Best Inns, which Vantage has decided not to incorporate into the company’s portfolio. According to Vantage Hospitality CEO Roger Bloss, “When we looked at the resources that would have to be dumped into that product to try and make it work, in light of the fact that we have a, now a sibling brand, that’s obviously very similar in name, and quite and obviously very similar in market, it just didn’t make sense.”
In August, Mark Williams, formerly of Motel 6 and Best Western, was hired to be the group president of Vantage’s midscale and upscale brands. This group includes Lexington Inns, Lexington Hotels, Lexington Legacy, Jameson Inn & Suites, and 3 Palms Hotels & Resorts. And coming into the conference, Vantage announced that Patrick Mullinix would be group president of the value brands, which include Signature Inn, America’s Best Inns & Suites, Americas Best Value Inn and Country Hearth Inn & Suites. This group makes up the bulk of Vantage’s portfolio with 1,004 franchised under Americas Best Value Inn, Canadas Best Value Inn, and Value Inn Worldwide alone.
During a member question and answer session at the conference, Bloss and Vantage COO/CFO Bernie Moyle sought to address the potential impact issues from brand overlap. “That’s why we divided into different segments. We have the value brands, we have the USB [upscale brands] as I call them,” Bloss said. “We will not put a value brand where there are already is a value brand, unless they are differentiating products, services, etcetera.” Moyle added that Vantage would also be leveraging its flexible structure to give hotels the opportunity to request to move within the system and find the right brand. This is especially important for the 85 hotels currently under the America’s Best Inns brand.
While Vantage has a three-mile courtesy area of protection, Bloss said he thinks two hotels from different brand groups could compete on the same street corner. Moyle also noted that, in the future, the company would look to do dual-brand projects, specifically with the extended-stay Country Hearth Inns & Suites. “The brand is exercising more control over its members. The difference is that it’s at the request of our members,” Moyle said.
When it comes to new development projects, Williams said, “We know we’ve got to build some and with the new ABVI and Lexington prototypes, we’re really confident that’s going to work. We’ve already acquired land, and we’re well into putting shovels in the ground.”
“We are seeking steady and quality growth,” Bloss said. And, like most hotel companies, Vantage is pushing global development in the coming year, focusing on South Korea, China, and India, where it now has a master license agreement for the Value Inn brand.