Franchising has been a long used largely successful tool to grow brand awareness while helping to create a much larger business than perhaps achievable through more conventional means. It’s a great concept but can be-set with all sorts of problems, if not properly managed and controlled.
I recently booked a big name budget brand hotel and frankly despite 50 years staying in a whole range of properties ranging from luxury lodgings including Raffles, Inter Continental, Omni, Fairmont and many independently managed offerings, right down to the Motel 6 type alternatives, this was my worst accommodation stay ever.
I had wanted to book a geographically centrally located lower end price conscious hotel, where I could easily travel to various places of interest in the southern US state of Georgia.
First, I do not want to place any blame of choice on the state itself, other than to wonder why with all the resources available to it supplied by the US$5 per night room levy it places on all hotel accommodation, in addition to all the other taxes collected. This massive generator of revenue would certainly allow regular inspection to ensure a minimum standard is achieved before granting an operating licence.
Also beyond comprehension is that the brand holders or franchise appointees do not appear to have their own quality and safety inspection assurance department. Or if they have, it clearly has not functioned effectively in this particular case
While not wanting to graphically list every (17 points in all) unacceptable elements of dissatisfaction during my stay, they mostly related to cleanliness and to put that in perspective, it translated that after having a shower or bath, walking the short 10 or so feet from bathroom to bed left the bottoms of your feet disgustingly filthy.
Of course after check-in, I went to the reception three separate times but each occasion no personnel were on duty as far as the eye could see.
Having pre-paid the 7 night’s accommodation in full with a stated company policy of absolutely no refunds, it appeared there were few other options. There were also serious safety issues including a loose and rusty grab rail and the lack of an anti-slip mat, which clearly was an essential with the shiny surface of the bath/shower.
Since returning, I have written to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of both the brand, Wyndham, which are scheduled to open a hotel on Barbados and the Executive Chairman of Priceline, the company with whom I made the booking. Of course I will report back if either gentleman or their representatives respond.
After operating a hotel for nearly thirty years, personally we have found that most guests are astonishingly understanding or forgiving, for the occasional peeling paint and temporary denial of a service.
But cleanliness, or the lack of, is a completely different story and not only reflects badly on the individual property but the reputation of the destination itself. This latest experience, absolutely in my eyes reinforces that all accommodation offerings, irrespective of their price range and facilities must be regulated, inspected and meet minimum criteria to be licensed.