Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ABVI members get ready to vote

Smoking policies and staff uniforms will be the topics up for vote tomorrow at Americas Best Value Inn’s annual membership meeting. A unique business model, ABVI considers its owners members in the brand. And that means that at the end of each year, those same members decide what policies they want to be put into place for the coming year, rather than the brand alone making mandates.

And, luckily, they’ve invited me to watch them in action. Today at the ABVI Educational Conference and Trade Show being held at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, I was able to hear what member representatives from different regions of the U.S. had to say about the topics at hand for 2009.

The first on tap was support of maintaining a search engine marketing fund to position ABVI for a stronger digital presence. The issue received overwhelming support from the panel, with Ken Johnson of north central region calling it a “no brainer.” “In fact, I thought why don’t we put more money into this,” Johnson said. Panelists asked that there may be a report system added that would show how much pay per click money was being spent by property or even region.

The group addressed its quality assessment program, which basically rates each property by an A, B, C or D grade. Jordan Langlois, VP of brand management, said about 80 percent of that rating is based on cleanliness. However, some argument to the tactic was heard from those who attributed lower ratings to the economy preventing owners from making capital improvements, while others said it’s important to work with failing properties and not just kick them out of the system. Others called for assessments to be more stringent.

On the topic of uniforms, the groups showed agreement across the board that at least front desk employees should wear shirts distinguishing themselves as ABVI employees, while many others supported that should be extended to all personnel, including maintenance and cleaning workers.

The group also tackled the issue of whether to make ABVI hotels non-smoking. The majority of its membership so far supports allowing the percentage of rooms that will be non-smoking to be left up to the individual property, based upon the customers they have in their region. “What I hear overwhelmingly is leave it at the property’s discretion,” Langlois noted.

We’ll find out tomorrow what the members decide.

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