SPECIAL ORDERS FROM franchisees don’t upset Advantage Hotels. The Austin, Texas-based company is allowing hotel owners to define their own terms of any franchise agreement they enter.
Advantage’s Build A Brand program is inspired by the uncertainty brought to the industry by the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows owners joining Advantage flexibility in setting agreement length, to lower monthly costs by foregoing exit windows and to select elements of the company’s marketing program.
The program comes about in response to the growing disenchantment some franchisees have been experiencing with other brands, according to a statement from Advantage. That schism started before the pandemic but has since reached a tipping point as franchise costs increase and support from the brands decreases, according to the statement.
“We have to get ‘back to the future.’ Back to the golden age when franchisees were able to experience true success when partnering with a franchise,” said Patrick Mullinix, Advantage’s founder, president and CEO. “Our company is based on trust, communication and relationships. Those attributes comprise the ethos of our company and make us uniquely different than the rest.”
Mullinix, who formed Advantage last year after acquiring Vista and Select Inn brands from Advantis Hospitality Alliance, wrote about the flight of franchisees from brands in an article in June.
“Once the COVID pandemic hit the travel sector, it shut down the reservation system for every brand in U.S. It unveiled a realization, that brands didn’t provide much support,” he said. “The writing has been on the wall for a number of years. Now, dissatisfied franchise owners are now waking up to the real truth of how little their brands actually contribute to the success of their business compared to the high cost in which they pay to them monthly.”
Mullinix said Advantage offers short-term franchise agreements with 12-month renewals and low transaction fees. He said the model goes “back to the basics” and “acts more like a brand membership.
“We believe that owners who have a voice, take greater pride in ownership. We listen to owners and give them choices,” Mullinix said.