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Nobody Asked Me, But� No. 68:

Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers; The Best Franchise Website;
Free Wi-Fi at Top of Amenity List

By Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC, September 14, 2010

1.  Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers

  • Why don�t hotel franchisees support the bipartisan Arbitration Fairness Act which would make pre-dispute agreements requiring mandatory arbitration unenforceable?  Since many hotel franchise agreements stipulate mandatory arbitration which favor franchisors, I would have guessed that franchisees would have fought hard to pass this bill.
  • Why has Sheraton installed such a complicated thermostat in their new guest rooms-a gadget that generates random images when you push different buttons?  The Haggler column by David Segal, New York Times  (8/22/10) proposes a much simpler selection panel: 
    • make it colder
    • make it hotter
    • fan more
    • fan less
  • Why haven�t hotel suppliers developed a remote control that is easy to clean and hard-to-steal?
  • Why don�t all hotels follow the advice given by travel expert Marybeth Bond, author of �Gutsy Women: More Travel Tips,� to provide more safety for women travelers in hotels?
    • avoid displaying room keys in public places 
    • instruct front desk staff not to mention the name or room number of female guests at check in
    • provide good room locations near the elevator
    • discourage room service from indicating anything on tickets that might suggest that the female guest is alone
    • warn employees against fraternization 
    • provide escorts to walk women to their cars
    • ensure that employees doing work in the room display their identification before entering the room
    • always ask to see the identification of the second party coming to a female guest�s room and call the room to confirm
    • make safety handouts available at the front desk
    • instruct bellmen to remind women to keep guestroom door locked with deadbolt and chain, to point out fire exits, to test windows to ensure they are locked
    • make printed safety handouts available at the front desk

2.  BlueMauMau.Org: The Best Franchise Website

If you don�t watch this website every day, you are missing out on the most important franchisee/franchisor news and opinions.  Founder/Editor Don Sniegowski ([email protected]) has created an easy-to-use interactive website that brings information about franchising that appears nowhere else.  It is, therefore, indispensable.

For example, at the end of June 2010, BlueMauMau posted �New Franchisee Federations Spring Up�.:

LEXINGTON- As spring 2010 comes to a close after an extraordinary recession, new independent franchisee federations are springing up, while old ones have either changed or otherwise passed quietly during the dead of winter.

One new umbrella association, the International Association of Franchisees and Dealers, launched its inaugural conference on May 10.  Meanwhile, one of the industry�s richest trade associations, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, is preparing to launch a franchisee federation for all franchise owners of all sectors, not just hotel owners, and not just Asian Americans.

These are interesting times for franchisee federations.

Franchise associations can provide members with benefits such as discounted products for their stores that their franchisors may not supply.  They can provide health care plans for owners and employees that are open to trade associations but have been closed for decades to franchisors.  They can help provide resources to negotiate contract disagreements, and organize to provide fair franchise lobbying, something that few franchisors want.  On rare occasions and in the right circumstances, these groups have even been instrumental in replacing franchisor CEOs and boards.

Jim Coen, president of Dunkin� Donuts Independent Franchise Owners (DDIFO), a group of franchisees owning 2,500 locations, states, �Independent franchisee associations are trade associations who act to benefit and enhance their members.�

Associations are considered by many experts as the best source of information for a franchise buyer. Yet few buyers take advantage of the opportunity.  Instead, they often speak with franchisees that the franchisor points them to.

That may be changing.  The franchise rule that was permanently changed in 2008 now requires franchisors to list independent franchisee associations relating to their brand � if the independent franchisee association requests that  the franchisor put information about them into the Franchise Disclosure Document.  Buyers will now find it easier to contact these associations�.

There are an estimated 3,500 franchise chains in the United States. This news journal estimates that currently 7 percent of franchised chains have independent franchisee associations.  Out of that 250 or so existing groups, BlueMauMau lists nearly 130.

Bob Purvin, retiring chairman and CEO of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers (AAFD), points out the innate, but currently largely latent, power of franchise owners, �Franchisees,� he states, �outnumber franchisors 300:1.  If 10 percent of franchisees (there are altogether over 900,000) put up $100 a year supporting an association, you would have a $9 million a year organization.  If a significant portion of franchisees step up to the plate, even nominally, they would be much more influential and effective.��.

DDIFO�s president thinks that the market for franchisee associations is limited and that association percentages are low compared to the total number of franchise systems because only franchise owners who have significant capital investments tend to have franchisee associations.  But he also stresses that independent associations fill an important function.  �Franchising needs both franchisor and franchisees to mutually share in the benefits of the relationship.  When one party overpowers another party, that�s when things get skewed.  Franchisors need franchisee associations.  Franchisee associations help balance the relationship to keep a franchise system functioning well.�

Chandrakant �C.K.� Patel, chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), thinks there is ample room for many more newcomers.  �The market could support a lot of umbrella franchisee organizations.  Whether they make it or not depends on what the goal of the trade coalition is and what value they bring to helping franchisees.  It is up to the market to decide which ones effectively address franchisee issues.�

�Independent associations are critical to the health of a franchise, as opposed to franchise advisory boards, which lack authority and can advise franchisors on what franchisor leaders and employees are willing to hear,� says Patel.

Patel thinks that franchisees in every franchise chain should have an independent franchisee association.  He declares, �Franchisee associations will continue to grow because they are some of the best groups to grapple with problems affecting the self-interest of franchisees within chains.  And frankly, franchisees see that franchise advisory boards are not as effective.��

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association, a huge lobbying and trade group of over 10,000 hotel owners and members, will use its deep pockets to spread from the hotel industry into all franchise sectors.  A federation of hotel franchisee associations and independent owners, AAHOA is regarded as a powerhouse among franchise lobbying groups.  According to one recent survey by PKF Hospitality Research, AAHOA members own more than 40 percent of all the nation�s hotels.  AAHOA members� estimated holdings are at $129 billion in property value.  The study goes on to say that AAHOA�s members spend over $32 billion annually on operating expenses.

�These numbers dramatically confirm the significant role that Asian American hoteliers play both in our industry and in our country�s economy,� said Tarun S. Patel, AAHOA chairman.  �These survey results will be invaluable as we advocate on behalf of our members with franchisors, legislators, bankers and others.�

Yesterday in Chicago, during its annual conference, the association explored, with several restaurant, service and hotel franchisee associations, how to proceed in launching the new federation.  It aims to inspire excellence in its members through lobbying, industry leadership, professional development, member benefits and community involvement.

Laura Lee Blake, AAHOA�s in-house survey, says that the purpose of the new franchisee federation will be to �promote fair franchising for the benefit of all franchisees in the U.S. and their respective franchise systems overall.�

3.  Free Wi-Fi at Top of Amenity List

In a recent issue of HotelNewsNow (September 1, 2010), columnist Stuart Greif reported the results of J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

In today�s digitally-connected world, hotel guests want free internet access.  This is the case in every segment, with the exception of the mid-scale limited service hotels, in which the most important amenity remains complimentary breakfast.

On my recent three week automobile trip across Pennsylvania, all of the following motor inns provided free Wi-Fi internet service and free breakfast: Homestead Suites, Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn, Super 8, Sleep Inn and Fairfield Inn.

4.   Quote of the Month

�Somehow eight million of us, of every conceivable ancestry and background have enough tolerance and understanding to live and work here together� with more museums, more restaurants, more theatres, more churches, and yes, more trees than any other city in America.�
        John V. Lindsay
        Former Mayor of New York City

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC has just published �Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry.� It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters devoted to each of the following pioneers: John McEntee Bowman, Carl Graham Fisher, Henry Morrison Flagler, John Q. Hammons, Frederick Henry Harvey, Ernest Henderson, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Howard Dearing Johnson, J. Willard Marriott, Kanjibhai Patel, Henry Bradley Plant, George Mortimer Pullman, A.M. Sonnabend, Ellsworth Milton Statler, Juan Terry Trippe and Kemmons Wilson.  It also has a foreword by Stephen Rushmore, preface, introduction, bibliography and index. Visit to order the book.

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
[email protected]

Also See: Nobody Asked Me, But� No. 67 : Stanley Turkel's Review of Budget/Economy Hotels Following a Three Week Pennsylvania Road Odyssey / Stanley Turkel / August 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But� No. 66 : Recognizing Three Hotel Industry Experts Whose Accomplishments Are Unique - Bjorn Hanson, Peter Greenberg and Richard Warnick / Stanley Turkel / July 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But� No. 65: A Well-Deserved Compliment for Steve Rushmore; Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers / Stanley Turkel / June 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But� No. 64: Best Western Finally Makes a Move; Cuba, The Caribbean�s Hottest Destination / Stanley Turkel / May 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 63: Can Airlines Learn From Hotels?; Memo to Ian Schrager / Stanley Turkel / April 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 62 / Do the Radisson Franchisees Agree with Carlson's billion-dollar Makeover Program? At Last: A Win-Win Victory for Tourism; Congratulations to the Harris Rosen Foundation / Stanley Turkel / March 2010

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