Interview with Brian Leon – Choice Hotels Canada Inc

Date: MAY 16th, 2011

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Mr. Leon joined Choice Hotels Canada in January 2007 as Managing Director, Franchise Growth and Administration, and concurrently serves as an officer of the Corporation. Prior to joining Choice Hotels Canada, Mr. Leon spent over 15 years in leadership roles with Canadian franchise companies. Mr. Leon is a graduate of the Ivey School of Business. He is the former Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Franchise Association and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Canadian Feed the Children, an international children’s aid organization.

BeTheBoss - Tell us about the Choice Hotels Canada Franchise Concept:

Brian Leon - We are the largest franchise company in Canada’s lodging industry, with multiple internationally-respected brands appealing to a wide range of guests and investors. Of greatest importance is that fact that we are a 100% franchise organization. Our sole focus is working together with our franchisees to deliver an unparalleled combination of strong brands and potential for return on investment. Choice Hotels Canada franchises include Comfort, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn and now Ascend Collection.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Choice Hotels Canada franchisee?

BL - Whether it’s our industry-leading reservations technology, the powerful loyalty program of Choice Hotels International, our comprehensive training and support programs or our state-of-the-art property management system, franchisees can count on us for unmatched support. We make sure our brands mean the right things to the right people and we share our marketing expertise with our franchised hotels. Travel is one of the most successful forms of e-commerce, with millions of hotel nights booked online every day. Choice Hotels Canada is a leader, with a dynamic, interactive and engaging website, compelling e-mail communications and effective point-of-decision advertising. Choice Hotels International has its own reward program and participates in others, allowing us to reach millions of consumers with attention-grabbing bonus promotions to fill rooms during off-peak periods.

The Choice Privileges® program is one of the fastest-growing loyalty programs in the industry, with over 12 million members globally, and over 500,000 Canadian members. Choice Privileges members booked over 1 million room nights in Canada alone in 2010 .
We work with well known organizations like Aeroplan, Visa, Sears, and leading Canadian tourism organizations to reach millions of potential guests through cost-effective mass communications. In short, we strive to deliver room nights and recurring business to each and every one of our franchisees.

BTB - Who is your ideal franchisee?

BL - At Choice Hotels Canada we’re passionate about hotels and deeply committed to our franchised hotels. We don’t operate hotel properties – our singular focus is our franchisees. We’re seeking a select group of franchisees – committed people who share our passion for providing an unparalleled combination of service, quality accommodations and value to guests across Canada.

BTB - Tell us a little about the hospitality market?

BL - People will always travel and always need a place to rest their heads at night. The hotel industry is fast-changing, dynamic and endlessly interesting. Owning and operating hotels is hard work, but it is work that can be very well rewarded both in terms of personal satisfaction and return on investment. The brands represented by Choice Hotels Canada mostly occupy the mid-range and economy sectors of the hospitality industry, an excellent place to be in a market where consumers increasingly demand more value for their money.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to purchase or join a Franchise?

BL - First of all, you need to conduct extensive research to find the right type of business for your skills and ambitions. Then you need to carefully weigh the strengths and weaknesses of franchisors in your selected category. We’re confident that potential franchisees who do their homework will see strong benefits to the Choice Hotels Canada approach.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Choice Hotels Canada would be a great opportunity for someone?

BL - The hotel industry is not for everyone. It involves a very significant capital investment and is different from a lot of other franchises in that it’s both a business investment and a real estate investment.

But for those who are interested in the hotel industry, we believe there is no better franchise system. Choice Hotels Canada is part of Choice Hotels International®, one of the world’s largest accommodation groups, with over 6,700 hotels open and under development worldwide. Choice Hotels Canada works with our franchisees to recommend the best brand to fit your property. We offer franchisees the wisdom gained from 70 years of helping hotel owners, investors and operators build thriving businesses. As a 100% franchise organization our team is solely focused on our franchisees.