Choice Hotels International continues to operate over 90 per cent of its US properties, and said that it is “confident in our ability to weather this storm”.
The group – which comprises brands including Quality Inn, Comfort, Sleep Inn and Cambria Hotels – is one of the world’s largest hotel chains, with over 7,000 franchised properties.
Choice said that the majority of its domestic hotels “are in small towns, suburban and interstate locations and have experienced less severe occupancy declines related to COVID-19 than hotels in urban centres or resorts”.
“Choice Hotels’ brands have been performing ahead of the upper-midscale, midscale and economy chain scales, and the company’s hotels have experienced relatively stronger same-store RevPAR share gains versus their local competition for the past five weeks,” the group continued.
Domestic occupancy levels were below 50 per cent for the month of March, “and softened in the last ten days of the month to trend in a range between 26 per cent and 33 per cent daily occupancy”, a trend which has continued into early April.
The group said it was “seeking to drive business to the franchised hotels in its system across a wide variety of industries and government and emergency-management agencies”, adding that many of the company’s franchisees had committed room inventory at discounted rates, or on a complimentary basis to support community efforts, including “opening their hotels for hospital overflows and providing temporary housing for first responders, the National Guard, healthcare workers, critical infrastructure workers and others in dire need”.
Guest cancellation policies have been revised to provider travellers with greater flexibility, and members of the company’s Choice Privileges loyalty programme can donate points to the American Red Cross’ COVID-19 relief efforts, or the International Franchise Association’s Franchising Gives Back Programme, which provides support to small businesses and local non-profits across the US.
Choice said that it has $489 million in cash and available borrowing capacity, with additional options if needed, and said that “The company continues to benefit from its primarily franchise-only business model, which has historically provided a relatively stable earnings stream and low capital expenditure requirements”.
Commenting on the situation Patrick Pacious, president and chief executive officer, Choice Hotels, said:
“Given the broad-based uncertainty of the current environment, we have taken decisive actions over the past several weeks to position the company for changing market dynamics and enhanced our financial flexibility to sustain the long-term health of the business.
“We are confident in our ability to weather this storm, while supporting our franchisees as they navigate uncharted waters. Choice Hotels has been through challenging times before and, each time, the company has always emerged stronger given its long-term focus, proven brands, high-calibre associates and broad franchisee base.”