The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have brought out waves of franchisees with major hotel brands who are expressing dissatisfaction with the level of service they receive from their franchisers, said Patrick Mullinix, president and CEO of Advantage Hotels.

THE ONGOING COVID-19 pandemic has revealed growing numbers of franchisees dissatisfied with major hotel brands, according to the founders of Advantage Hotels. Patrick Mullinix, the company’s president and CEO, said the franchisee rebellion indicates larger companies are not supporting their hotel owners.

Mullinix, who formed the Austin, Texas-based company last year after acquiring Vista and Select Inn brands from Advantis Hospitality Alliance, said franchisees are tired of the lack of support they receive from the brands. The current economic downturn highlighted that lack of support, he said.

Patrick Mullinix founded Advantage Hotels last year and said the company offers simple, short-term franchise agreements with low fees.

“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.”

An online petition for change by some Choice Hotels International’s franchisees is one example of the growing dissatisfaction, Mullinix said. Another group of Choice franchisees recently sued the company alleging, among other things, that the company has a racial bias against Indian American owners.

Mullinix said Advantage Hotels 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.

“I believe during the recovery of the travel industry, we’re going to see hundreds, if not possibly thousands, of hotel owners making a change in their brand to regain their lost business,” he said. “They will be making the change not only as a result of their dissatisfaction, but more importantly, their need for survival.”

Ramesh Gokal was president and COO of Advantis, based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, before its closing. Advantage Hotel’s advisory board includes former AAHOA Chairmen Ramesh Surati, Dhansukh “Dan” Patel and Mukesh Mowji.