Brian Leon is Managing Director, Franchise Growth and Administration of Choice Hotels Canada. With over 300 hotels operating under the Comfort, Quality, Ascend Collection, Clarion, Econo Lodge, Sleep Inn and Rodeway Inn brands and system-wide annual Canadian revenue in excess of $500 million, Choice Hotels is Canada’s largest hotel franchisor. It is part of Choice Hotels International, one of the world’s largest hotel systems. Together with the Managing Director, Franchise Performance, Mr. Leon shares responsibility for leadership of the Canadian company.
Mr. Leon has an extensive background in the Canadian franchise industry. Prior to joining Choice Hotels in 2007, he was Executive Vice President of Booster Juice, one of North America’s leading Juice & Smoothie bar chains. Previously he was President & CEO of The Great Canadian Bagel where he oversaw the development of the chain from two stores to over 100.
Mr. Leon holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ivey School of Business. He is the former Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Franchise Association, former Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Cancer Society Toronto District and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Canadian Feed the Children, an international children’s aid organization.
BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the Choice Hotels Canada Franchise Concept.
Brian Leon: We are Canada’s largest lodging industry franchisor, 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 industry leading ROI. 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 franchisee?
BL: Whether it’s our industry-leading reservations technology, our powerful loyalty program, our comprehensive training and operational 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 franchise partners. 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. We have our own reward program and participate 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 currently over 19 million members worldwide. Membership has nearly doubled since 2009. Choice Hotels has sent over 350 million emails to Choice Privileges members, highlighting new hotels, national promotions and other special offers.
We partner with well known organizations like Aeroplan, MBNA, Esso, and leading Canadian tourism organizations to reach millions of potential guests through cost-effective mass communications. In short, we deliver room nights and repeat business to 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 the success of our franchise partners. We don’t operate hotel properties – our singular focus is ensuring the success of our franchisees. We’re seeking a select group of franchise partners – 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 acquire 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 that do their homework will see strong benefits to the Choice Hotels Canada approach.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Choice Hotels would be a great franchise 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 6,800 hotels in more than 35 countries. Only Choice makes it possible for you to select the brand that perfectly matches your property. We offer franchisees the wisdom gained from over 60 years of helping hotel owners, investors and operators build successful businesses. As a 100% franchise organization our team is solely focused on the success of our franchisees.
In 2014 Choice Hotels Canada has been the recipient of both the Canadian Franchise Association ‘Franchisees Choice’ award, and the Hotelier Magazine Pinnacle Award for Company of the Year.