|By Al Greenwood, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 3, 2004 - FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- A Fayetteville hotel owner will have a say on the central policies of a hotel franchise operation -- from the shampoos that go in the showers to the mattresses in the rooms.
Choice Hotels International this week announced that Gene Ammons Jr. was elected president of the International Operators Council. His term will last one year and will be followed by another year as past president.
The council is an advisory group for Choice. It represents the owners and operators of more than 2,800 hotels in the United States and the Caribbean. Choice brands include Clarion, Comfort, Quality Inn and Sleep Inn.
Ammons owns two Choice hotels: the Quality Inn Ambassador on Eastern Boulevard and the Sleep Inn on Interstate 95.
As president, Ammons will be the liaison between hotel owners and the Choice corporation. During council meetings, he will vote only to break a tie.
Ammons said the council tries to offer a consensus of hotel owner opinion on operational matters, including hotel standards.
"Choice may come in and say, 'We want to put name-brand shampoos in all Sleep Inns,'" Ammons said. "They will ask the board, 'What do you think?'" The members of the council could accept the brand or recommend another one based on input from the other Choice hotel owners, he said. "We are the ones out there standing at the front desk hearing what the guests have to say," Ammons said. "We know what our guests want."
Years ago, Ammons said, the council approved making Serta mattresses a requirement for all Quality Inn hotels.
And more recently when Choice wanted all Sleep Inn hotels to offer high-speed Internet access by May 2005, Ammons said, the council thought that was too long to wait. Choice changed the deadline to the end of this month.
One of the biggest issues facing the council will be the competition from possible new Choice hotels, Ammons said. The nation's hotel market is recovering from the slump that started during the 2001 recession, and developers are building more hotels. Existing Choice hotel owners don't want to compete with new Choice hotels, Ammons said.
Ammons has served on the council at the national level since 1996. His family's involvement goes back even further. His father, Gene Ammons Sr., who opened Fayetteville's first Quality Inn 50 years ago, was one of the council's founding members.
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