Vantage turns up the volume

Roger Bloss (left) and Bernie Moyle fielded some tough questions at Vantage Hospitality’s annual conference held this past weekend at the Golden Nugget and D Hotels in Las Vegas.

Roger Bloss (left) and Bernie Moyle fielded some tough questions at Vantage Hospitality’s annual conference held this past weekend at the Golden Nugget and D Hotels in Las Vegas.

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By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

LAS VEGAS, NV—It wasn’t your average town hall
meeting. To start with, moderator Glenn Haussman, editor in chief of Hotel
Interactive, urged the 300-plus members and owners in the audience at Vantage
Hospitality’s annual conference last weekend, to “ask the harder questions.”
Vantage Hospitality president and CEO Roger Bloss repeated that request,
saying, “I don’t want softballs. Tell us what you need to know.”

The hoteliers did just that, asking questions about problems
with Amana PTAC fans, the brand reservation system, slow responses to Facebook
comments, more marketing dollars for Canada, and a new venue for the conference—possibly
Bali—where Vantage has a property.

In each case, Bloss and CFO and COO Bernie Moyle, responded.
Yes, they would get to the bottom of the PTAC issue; they’d get someone to help
the individual hotelier work with the reservation system; maybe the Facebook
response system should be re-evaluated; and marketing dollars for Canada could
be addressed at the marketing meeting to be held later in the conference. As for
Bali, well, Bloss and Moyle did promise to look into a new conference venue…

It was a transparent approach, unusual for a company with
more than 1,100 hotels. But then, very little about Vantage Hospitality is
standard fare.

To start, it is a membership based organization, with low
fees of less than six per cent of gross revenue, compared between 11 and 13 per
cent for many major brands. The closest model is Best Western, although Bloss
stresses there are some important differences between the two.

Vantage Hospitality began with Americas Best Value Inns
(ABVI) just over a decade ago and has enjoyed spectacular growth. At this stage
they have six brands, ABVI, Canadas Best Value Inns (CBVI), Value Inn
Worldwide, Value Hotel Worldwide Lexington Hotel and Lexington Inn. Lexington
Legacy, Vantage’s soft branding option, is part of Lexington and not a separate
brand.

Canada now has 30 CBVIs, thanks largely to the development
efforts of Kash Joshi, master franchise license holder for Canada. Joshi did
not attend the conference; he was in Western Canada working on potential deals.
According to Bloss, there were at least three Canadians in attendance who were
not yet owners, but were interested in the Vantage brands.

Bill Hanley, president of Lexington Collection Worldwide
with responsibility for properties outside the U.S., noted that CBVI has grown
nicely in Canada over the past three or four years, but there are obvious
geographical gaps.

“We have strength in the far west and Ontario, and some
product in P.E.I. and New Brunswick, but we’re glaringly off the charts in
Alberta, Canada’s most prosperous region.

“Kash has spent the last two weeks in Alberta with some good
success and we continue to grow in the East. We are talking to people in Nova
Scotia,” he said.

“We have 1,050 properties in the U.S., but it’s more of a
process in Canada as we’re not as well known.” Hanley added that they have
leads in Dawson City and Victoria, and expect to grow by 10 to 12 properties in 2014.

Canada has one Lexington in Windsor, ON. Hanley added that
for legal reasons, Vantage had to call Lexington a franchise in Canada.

“It’s only a document, not a philosophy; our business is
exactly the same; we’re just complying with Canadian law,” said Bloss.

For more conference coverage check out the January edition of Canadian Lodging News.

In keeping with Vantage Hospitality's conference slogan, Turn Up the Volume, president and CEO Roger Bloss, shown here with his daughter Natalee, dressed in '60s attire for the Woodstock-themed welcome reception on Dec. 5.

In keeping with Vantage Hospitality's conference slogan, Turn Up the Volume, president and CEO Roger Bloss, shown here with his daughter Natalee, dressed in '60s attire for the Woodstock-themed welcome reception on Dec. 5.

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