Choice Hotels 1998 Annual Report - Highlights


photo Confronted with new competition springing up around their nine-year-old Econo Lodge hotel in Lenoir City, Tenn., owner-operator Howard Patel and his family carefully considered strategies for maintaining their impressive base of business. They decided to participate in the Econo Lodge Exterior Enhancement Program, a solution devised by Choice to revitalize the brand's older properties. Since the program was introduced three years ago, the more than 320 franchisees who participated have seen the performance of their hotels improve significantly.

Choice helped the Patel family design a pleasing new facade featuring columns, parapets, arches, a canopy entrance and improved lighting. The objective was to modernize the hotel's exterior to more accurately represent the value of its guest rooms, which are upgraded on an ongoing basis.

"In the lodging business, it's important to stay on top of the competition so that you don't lose your existing guests," Patel said. "The Econo Lodge Exterior Enhancement Program has helped us hold our own and compete effectively against the new hotels that are being constructed in our market."

Patel manages the 42-room hotel in partnership with his wife, Indira, and the help of their college-age sons, Ketan and Hitesh. They have taken several additional steps to make the property stand out from the pack. For example, they introduced free continental breakfast, put hair dryers in every room, upgraded guest room television sets to 25-inch models and established a policy of free local telephone calls.

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