WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Young Indian hoteliers associated with AAHOA are taking over their parents' hotels, but they'd like to run hotels with a boutique feel. Vantage Hospitality's founder, president and CEO, Roger Bloss, has a possible solution — Signature Inn. (AAHOA is the Asian American Hotel Owners' Association.)
Bloss told CLN he got a call from some young AAHOA Indian hoteliers who wanted to meet with him at the AAHOA regional meeting in Los Angeles. “They were taking over the business from their parents, who said they can do whatever they like, but they can't leave Vantage. Their parents feel comfortable that we are keeping an eye on them,” Bloss said.
These younger hoteliers wanted to take the old Mom and Dad hotels and change the profile with renovations, and by redefining guest expectations — essentially taking the hotels into the boutique sector. “They were looking at taking the properties from $60-$70 ADR to $140-$160 ADR, and Americas Best Value Inn (or Canadas Best Value Inn) doesn't fit that ADR,” Bloss said.
These hoteliers looked at becoming independent, but the math didn't work. They found that Vantage was a much better buy in terms of rates and resources. Bloss found out there were dozens of people who were interested in belonging to a high-end economy brand with 60-80 rooms per property.
Vantage, which now has more than 1,200 hotels, had acquired the rights to the Signature Inn brand under its deal with America's Best Franchising Inc. last year, even though there were no Signatures open or operating. Vantage saw an opportunity to create a free-style lodging brand to fit the bill. But Bloss didn't want the brand to be a catch-all. At the recent Vantage Hospitality conference in Las Vegas, he invited 100 hoteliers who loved Vantage, to create a new brand using a blank slate, with a set of standards, rule and marketing direction. The committee findings will be rolled out at the AAHOA annual meeting in April.
The name was perfect: “Signature plays to Marriott's autograph,” Bloss told CLN, and it also hearkens back to when guests had to register with their signature when they checked in. “It's not a startup,” he added, stressing that Signature owners will have access to Vantage's huge marketing budget and customer base.
In the meantime, there are several Signatures under construction and opening in the Spring. Conversion Signatures will be considered after the AAHOA conference meeting.
“The properties will have signature items like lighting, smell and home-town stuff,” said Bloss. “In southern California, it could smell like oranges, in Kentucky they could serve bourbon, in Georgia, pecans. It will resonate locally, nationally and globally, but yet be individual.
“Canada was there full force,” Bloss added. “There were other countries as well. There's no age and no ethnicity with your signature.”