LAS VEGAS — With an all-Canadian development team, Vantage Hospitality is gearing up to expand Canadas Best Value Inn and Lexington across the country.
“We realized that if we are going to sell development in Canada, we needed to do it with Canadians,” Bill Hanley, group president of international development for Vantage, told CLN at the Vantage Hospitality conference held this week at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
Realizing that “you can't sell Western Canada out of Toronto,” Vantage hired Arun Deo, who owns a Canadas Best Value Inn in Kamloops. Deo and his son Anusheel, whose company is called South Pacific Management Marketing Services, are now authorized development directors for Canadas Best Value in in the west.
“We signed the agreement in April, and since that time we have added two properties, one in Castlegar, B.C., and one just signed in Calgary,” Hanley said.
In Eastern Canada, Vantage has hired hotel industry veterans Glen Blake and Rick Keene of Full House Hospitality Services, to handle Canadas Best Value Inn in Eastern Canada and Vantage's Lexington brand across the country.
“I have known Glen for close to 20 years,” said Hanley. “He knows just about everybody and was absolutely enthused about our business model and the opportunities for CBVI and Lexington across Canada.”
Hanley stressed Vantage's long-term commitment to Canada. “We are walking carefully, but we believe there is tremendous opportunity.” Not only has Vantage invested in Canadian development offices, but they have also formed an alliance with a research and development company that will track OTA business for Vantage's existing Canadian properties. That way they can find out where the business is coming from and help Canadian hotels get more of that type of business by developing strong local area marketing programs, particularly for seasonal operations.
Mindful of the strength of the American greenback versus the Canadian dollar, Vantage is also offering to have Canadians pay for the their membership fees at par for 2016, and will consider doing the same in 2017.
“Historically, we have done well in times of strife,” Hanley said. “Our business model is very impressive to properties paying six to eight per cent for a brand. When times are good, they are still paying six to eight per cent on a lot more dollars, and our fees still look attractive.”
RIght now, Vantage has 30 CBVIs and one Lexington property. Another Lexington is in the works. Hanley said he expects to add eight to 10 more CBVIs and three or four Lexingtons in 2016.
Another Vantage brand, Country Hearth, “has legs when it is properly registered in Canada and we have a chance to evaluate the market. We have every intention of growing in that market.”
Vantage is also looking at Signature Inn as a boutique brand at the upper end of the select service segment. At the conference, Vantage has a special session in which it is asking members to help build the brand, which is aimed at millennials. “We think it's a very solid brand that has potential in Canada and in Asia,” Hanley said.
“I am more excited about Canada this year than last because we have a team of qualified, professional Canadians who understand the hotel business and the franchise licensing business and are known to a lot of Canadian hotel owners,” said Hanley.