Vantage focuses on brand, member opportunities
 
Vantage focuses on brand, member opportunities
13 APRIL 2015 8:30 AM
With an acquisition of six brands from America’s Best Franchising under its belt, Vantage Hospitality Group looks to what lies ahead for the company and its members.
ATLANTA—2014 was a big year for Vantage Hospitality Group with its July acquisition of six brands from America’s Best Franchising. Now, 2015 will be a year of opportunity for the company’s members, according to Roger Bloss, founder, president and CEO. 
 
“Now it’s about giving those hoteliers opportunities to move their product, maybe somewhere within the Vantage family,” Bloss said during a break at the 27th annual Hunter Hotel Conference. “Maybe they want to look at a different competitive set or different price point. So now with these brands, they have the ability to have movement within the system.”
 
The brands acquired from ABF include: 
  • 3 Palms Hotels & Resorts;
  • America’s Best Inns & Suites;
  • Country Hearth Inn & Suites;
  • Jameson Inn;
  • Jameson Suites; and 
  • Signature Inn.
 
Vantage now counts 1,200 rooms in its portfolio.
 
“It was a big undertaking for us, obviously. Coming from a culture that we created 15 years ago, where our members have a voice and a vote in everything that we do, and then you go out and acquire a franchise organization,” Bloss said. “So there’s always that: What does my future look like for the brands that we acquired?” 
 
Bloss said he thought there would be more apprehension from ABF franchisees about the acquisition, and he was glad they embraced the Vantage culture.
 
“I felt the timing of what we did by buying the company but not closing on it for six months, it gave people a chance to just relax and breathe a little bit,” he said. “And when we came to the (Vantage) conference last December I was pleasantly surprised how many of them came and how immediately they embraced our culture and kind of dove right in and started the voting process and things like that.” 
 
Signature Inn status
The Signature Inn brand was inactive at the time of the ABF acquisition, but that is set to change.
 
“You know, it’s funny. Back when I worked at Forte Hotels out of San Diego 20 years ago, we looked at Signature Inn as an acquisition. It was a very strong Midwestern brand, had a nice following,” Bloss said. “Obviously over time it kind of disappeared, but Vantage has always been founded on the premise that you’re in business for yourself, not by yourself and that we’re inspired by individuality.”
 
He said Signature Inn embodies that sentiment.
 
“Because your signature is who you are. And so what we want to do with Signature is really find properties that are uniquely different, that have really embraced the local hometown pride, if you will, and at the same time allows the owners to put their own signature, their own stamp on the hotel,” he said.
 
Bloss said Vantage will look to new construction for the brand.
 
“Matter of fact, we’ve had great success at it already because there’s not a lot of brands out there that—they’ll either be smaller in size on a prototype or exterior corridor on a prototype,” he said. 
 
“We’re seeing owners that want to build 40-, 60-room properties with exterior corridors and things like that. And yet they want a relevant brand; they want a great parent company behind it, and yet they want it to have their own individual stamp. So we think Signature fits that just perfectly,” he added.
 
Bloss said Vantage recently went through the federal disclosure process and was cleared to sell a few weeks ago. In the first week, the company signed three new-construction projects.
 
“I’m excited about that,” Bloss said. “And I think that will build momentum and go forward.”
 
Educating members
When it comes to its members, Vantage ensures ongoing education, Bloss said.
 
“I think what owners are facing is the barrage of constant change,” he said. “What we do at Vantage is we really make sure that we take that one week at a time, one day at a time. We don’t wait for the annual convention to talk about stuff.”
 
The company employs educational programs for its members, including “Think Tank Thursdays,” where through a webcast it will discuss important topics of that week or month.
 
In addition, members have access to “Vantage Academy,” where company representatives will go out to local markets and talk with hoteliers about what’s happening in their region.
 
“And we always have what we call SSAP—sales, support and assurance personnel—that are out in the field talking to you and I as hoteliers, and understanding their markets and individual hurdles,” Bloss said.
 
The company aims to stay on top of change in the industry for its members, he said.
 
“You have to get up and make sure breakfast is there, and then check-outs and you go through your day. There’s not a lot of leftover time to think about how is technology going to change my business or how can I embrace these policies to impact my bottom line,” Bloss added.
 

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