The revival of the Budgetel brand and introduction of soft brand Haven put Hospitality Lodging Systems on the map. Now the franchisor takes on AmeriVu Inn & Suites to grow its footprint.
ATLANTA—Hospitality Lodging Systems has been on a steady growth track since its revival of the Budgetel Inns & Suites brand and the introduction of soft brand Haven Hotel in late 2014. The company’s newest venture involves taking over a long-term licensing agreement to make HLS the exclusive franchise and management firm for the AmeriVu Inn & Suites brand.
Doug Collins, chairman and CEO of HLS, told Hotel News Now that the addition of the brand, what he described as fitting into the “upper-economy sector,” is accretive to the franchisor’s portfolio.
“There’s a lot of properties that would fit the AmeriVu product that we’re looking for,” Collins said. “It’s a good fit for us, and we think it has legs.”
Doug Collins, HLS
The brand was established last year by Nick Rai, CEO of Vishav Hotels. The signed agreement between HLS and Wisconsin-based Vishav went into effect 1 March and saw HLS assume management for five existing AmeriVu properties. Four of the hotels are located in Wisconsin, and one is in Ohio. A sixth property just opened in Minnesota last month.
“AmeriVu started in Wisconsin last year, and we had good regional response, but we need national exposure to grow,” Rai told HNN via email. “Our new relationship with HLS is already showing results, with conversion commitments in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Illinois. We are especially hopeful that the special features of AmeriVu will resonate with owners in the south.”
Collins said he thinks AmeriVu can grow into a nationwide brand. He said HLS has a lot of relationships with hotel owners in Minnesota, and he is optimistic about the brand’s growth in that area, for starters.
AmeriVu isn’t the only brand from HLS with a nationwide growth goal. Collins said all of the company’s brands will strive for that footprint.
“We’re attracting a diverse group of properties from a location standpoint throughout the country, from Modesto, California; to Fort Lauderdale, Florida; to Galloway, New Jersey. So, we’re growing nationally,” he said.
At the same time, he said HLS isn’t simply “growing for the sake of growing.”
In 2014, when the company announced its acquisition of the Budgetel brand, HLS had 19 hotels in its portfolio. At the time, Collins had hopes of doubling that portfolio within six months. The upstart Haven brand, which Collins classifies as midscale, had zero properties at that time.
Today, the company has 40 properties between its three brands, he said. There are 30 Budgetel hotels in the system; six AmeriVu properties; and four Haven hotels open, with one under construction. HLS plans to double the Haven chain within the next year, he said. HLS is strictly a franchisor and does not own any of the properties in the system.
“It’s been a very rewarding venture,” Collins said. “I think Budgetel has a name that resonates for what the product is: clean, comfortable rooms at a reasonable price. It’s a matter of getting that story out there.
“There’s a large base of economy hotels in the country that would be good product for our Budgetel chain,” he said. “The fastest-growing chain is always the most recent chain, so we’re probably one of the fastest-growing chains. I see us growing at a reasonable, steady rate.”
Collins said the brands in the HLS system will grow primarily through conversions, although new-builds aren’t off the table. (For instance, the company has a new-build construction underway in Houston.)
“There are a lot of properties in the United States,” he said. “There’s a lot of properties that are either independent and want to join a brand or are repositioning, and we think that’s a fertile ground for us to grow.”