Asian Americans make up most of the Red Roof Franchise Advisory Council. Pictured are members with are Red Roof executives Matt Hostetler, senior vice president of franchise and development; Vickie Lam, vice president of franchise performance; and Phil Hugh, chief development officer. Franchisees are Baku Patel, Pinal Patel, Final Desai, Dhaval Patel, Harihar Patel, Zina Patel, Rita Patel, Atul Patel, John Parent and Michael Goldstein.

ASIAN AMERICANS COMPRISE most Red Roof’s franchisees. A few years ago, after launching its strategy to grow aggressively by franchising, the company turned to the Asian Indian hotelier community.

In 2013, it hired industry veteran Phil Hugh as chief development officer. He led the reorganization of the company’s franchising team and set its sights squarely on the Asian American hotelier community.

Many Asian American first-time franchisees cut their entrepreneurial teeth on Red Roof hotels.

Andrew Alexander, president of Red Roof, said he understands that many franchisees graduate from owning and operating a Red Roof to investing in premium midscale and upper midscale brands by Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental Hotels Group.

“Our relationship with our franchisees is as close as you can get,” he said, noting owners have direct access to him and other leaders at the company, something that’s unheard of at larger franchising companies.

“Our owners don’t just grow with us in terms of product, but they also grow in status as a hotelier,” Alexander said. “We know we are a stepping stone in their growth, and we relish that role.” When franchisees work hard and go from a Red Roof Inn to a Hilton or Marriott brand, Alexander said he is proud of them.

Red Roof works with many next-gen hotel owners. “Sometimes a family business will keep their Red Roof and say, ‘OK, Red Roof, train our kids how to operate a hotel.’”

In September, Red Roof hosted a development day at its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters for members of AAHOA’s Young Professional Committee. “We showed them around and talked about their place in the industry, how they can excel and hopefully one day work with us,” Alexander said.

Neal Patel, managing director of Blue Chip Hotels in Austin, Texas, was in his early 20s when Red Roof invited him to join the council in 2015. He served for two years, representing next-gen owners.

The company also promotes hotel ownership and industry leadership among women. In fall 2016, it was the first franchise company in the U.S. to hold a forum exclusively to educate and encourage women hoteliers – regardless of whether they are Red Roof franchisees.

Marina MacDonald, chief marketing officer at Red Roof, led the initiative, which has had two forums and a special event for women during its 2017 brand conference. Last year, the American Hotel & Lodging Association gave MacDonald its Paving the Way Award in recognition of the forum.

The timing for the forum is right, Alexander said. “There is definitely a shift in terms of decision making in the Asian American hotelier community. It is moving from a singular to a joint-decision-making process. Strategically, it makes sense.”