ROCKVILLE, MD. - Choice Hotels International, Inc. announces the expansion of its emerging markets franchise development program with new development incentives for female owners, as part of the company's ongoing commitment to diversity. The expansion builds upon Choice Hotels' longstanding efforts to extend the opportunity of hotel ownership to underrepresented populations and increase diversity among the company's owner base and across the hospitality industry. In March, Cheryl Goldberg, owner and chief financial officer, IGO Legacy Hotel Group, was awarded the first franchise contract as part of these efforts. She celebrated the opening of her Comfort Inn Saint Paul East hotel last week.
"The growth of our emerging markets franchise development program, directly around supporting female hotel ownership, is proof positive of our commitment to make small business ownership a reality for underrepresented entrepreneurs," said John Lancaster, vice president, emerging markets, franchise development and owner relationships, Choice Hotels. "With the likelihood of only one woman entering hotel development to 9.2 men, according to research from the Castell Project, it's the dedicated efforts of Choice Hotels' trailblazing emerging markets team that contribute to bridging the gap."
Choice Hotels has a long history of creating and supporting a diverse franchisee base. For over 15 years, the company's emerging markets team has been dedicated to making small business ownership a reality for underrepresented and minority entrepreneurs. Since the program began, the company has awarded and financially supported over 270 franchise agreements with underrepresented minority and veteran entrepreneurs, including 24 deals awarded last year despite the pandemic.
"Joining the Choice Hotels family this year has been a rewarding introduction to the outstanding support system of a leading company that truly cares about representation. I've been a part of the real estate and hospitality industry for nearly 30 years, and Choice has stood out as a franchisor that provides the guidance, support, encouragement and feedback to put you on the path to success," said Goldberg. "It's an honor to be the first female to sign on to this initiative, and I hope to inspire other women to consider hotel ownership and investment."
Since the March launch this year, the company has granted five contracts to female entrepreneurs, including Cheryl Goldberg, Chetna Manoj, Ravina Mehta, Rachna Sachar, and Dimple Patel. Choice Hotels continues to foster female hotel ownership through sponsorships and support at women-focused conferences on hotel ownership, including She Has a Deal, an education and investment platform for aspiring women hotel investors and developers, Fortuna's Table, an online community for diverse potential hotel owners to learn, inspire, network, plan and collaborate on the path to hotel investment and ownership, and the Black Girls In Real Estate Conference.