Archive December 2021

ELFA Update

We continue to gather and share as much relevant information as we can with members to help navigate through these troubled days, and position best for whatever may lie ahead.

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERC) Program Update

While many hotel and hospitality businesses took advantage of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) resulting from the 2020 CARES Act, many businesses have not followed up with an additional tax credit, the ERC, which allows for an employee tax credit resulting from any single quarter revenue being only 20% lower than its corresponding period in 2019.

There has been a lot of confusion around this program, including eligibility and program expiration date. Bottom line is most businesses are eligible, and there is plenty of time to apply.

ELFA has partnered with ERC Today to assist in both determining eligibility and streamlining the application process. If your business experienced a drop of 20% or more for any single quarter in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019, and you had wage earning employees on staff at the time and filed IRS form 941, you may very well qualify for this payroll tax credit.

Please visit this special link established for ELFA members to inquire and apply today while funding for this program still remains.

Supply Chain Issues?

Supply chain disruptions in the purchase of branded and other required guest products and amenities continues to plague the industry. Choice Hotels leadership is very aware of these issues, and is working to help assist franchisees who are experiencing these setbacks and delays when ordering.

Please reach out to your dedicated Area Manager, and ELFA, to inform them of any challenges you are experiencing in this area. The Choice Franchise Services team is working with and relaying information to procurement and the QAR team, alerting them to potential problems as they occur. Please help both yourself and other franchisees by sharing these issues regularly and freely.

LRA Inspections Expand to Brand Standard Compliance Beginning January 1st

Starting in 2022, Quality Assurance reviews and LRA inspections will begin including brand standard compliance in all areas towards property scoring. Since the onset of Covid, Choice has allowed this area of compliance to take a back seat to cleanliness and condition considering the economic challenges related to the pandemic. However, with travel and spending having surged back, often to pre-pandemic levels, this element of operations will resume its presence in property inspections.

Cleanliness remains a highest priority in scoring and property expectations. It is the number one area mentioned in guest feedback. Compliance with the Commitment to Clean program, along with certifications, will continue to play a significant role in inspections in the coming year and beyond.

We understand that many properties have faced significant challenges in each of these areas both with issues involving labor, along with the additional wear and tear that has accompanied additional business and shifts in our guest makeup. We urge you to take any and all steps to bridge gaps in either of these areas that may be facing your property after this difficult period.

If you are experiencing issues with procurement or shipping / order delays for critical products, we also ask that you please relay this information without delay to your Choice Area Manager so that they can relay this information on to procurement and the QAR team.

CrowdStrike Non-Compliance Penalties Are Being Assessed

Choice Hotels is issuing $150 monthly fees for properties not in compliance with the CrowdStrike software mandate for all front desk computers.

If you are seeing this fee levied on your monthly invoice, please take steps immediately to resolve. Search your GM Inbox for the original CrowdStrike “Welcome / Installation” e-mail from 2020 and follow the installation instructions. If you cannot locate this e-mail, you can send an e-mail of your own to falcon-complete@Crowdstrike.com and request a re-send.

Installation is mandated for all front desk computers and those accessing ChoiceAdvantage. It takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish for the installation process.

Are You Hearing Regularly from ELFA?

ELFA sends out e-mails regularly to its Econo Lodge franchisee members with important brand updates and notices on a wide variety of pressing operational matters. While we do not overload with e-mails, we at least reach out once per month.

If you are not receiving e-mails or correspondences from ELFA in this fashion, please reach out to us and let us know so that we can update your contact information. Please include your property code so we can best update and ensure delivery.

Choice Hotels Brand Update

Important Changes to Locally Negotiated Rate (LNR) Accounts and CP Points Eligibility

Choice Hotels has recently implemented a change to gaining exemptions from awarding CP points for certain LNR plans (Corporate Lodging, Weekly, etc.) that your property may utilize. Beginning this past December 15th, these plans can no longer be deemed “non-points eligible” when creating a new one in Rates Center. Instead, all plans must be submitted to Choice Hotels for approval via the Choice Now platform.

Further, beginning March 1, 2022, any existing LNR’s that do not award CP points will be automatically converted to “points eligible” unless they have been cleared by Choice Hotels via this same process.

You can find the LNR plan points exemption form in Choice Now.

Examples of LNRs that have not been awarded CP points exemptions include those that are considered Choice corporate programs (LSTATE, Fed Rates, etc.), cases where no contract between guest (or guest organization) has been provided, or cases where a contract does not explicitly state that the rate is non-points eligible.

Once an LNR plan has been awarded an exemption, you may use this rate code for multiple guests that may stay under that plan. You will not need to submit an exemption request for every guest under the same LNR plan, only when a new LNR plan is created.

Stay tuned to ELFA correspondence and www.elfa.org for more updates on this administration shift.

New ChoiceMAX Rate and Revenue Management Tool is Now Available

Choice Hotels has completed Phase I of the new ChoiceMAX rate and revenue management tool, and is available for use by all properties in the Choice Hotels system.

ChoiceMAX is a more dynamic and thorough replacement for the SmartRates tool, allowing for more frequent competitive rate analysis throughout the day, and more dynamism and targeting when it comes to optimizing your property’s rates.

One critical key with successfully implementing this type of rate management tool lies in accepting that oftentimes guests are more ready, willing, and able to pay more for room nights than we may expect. ChoiceMAX helps better target these rate thresholds, and the data that it utilizes to help drive higher ADR is now more current and up-to-the-minute than ever.

If your property was already utilizing SmartRates then you will have automatically been switched over to the ChoiceMAX system. If your property was not already utilizing SmartRates, and roughly half of Econo Lodges were not with this program, we urge you to connect with your Area Manager today and study its tools, features, and the potential positive impact it may have on your property and your ability to maximize not only rate, but overall revenue alongside.

You can find out more about the ChoiceMAX program and its features here.

Housekeeping Upon Request (HKUR) Guest Communication

Choice Hotels has produced guest-facing publications and collateral to better help relay your property’s HKUR program and schedule in an effort to help manage guest satisfaction feedback and property scoring.

Please take a minute to visit the Econo Lodge HKUR Resource Page in Choice Central for links to materials and descriptions that you can put to work at your property.

New Opaque OTA Pricing Strategies

Choice Hotels is implementing new opaque rate plans for Hotwire and Priceline business, in addition to the existing LOPQ plan. These new tiers open up the advance booking windows for your property.

Please visit the Opaque Pricing Strategy FAQ Page in Choice Central for more detailed information and actions you can take to best manage available inventory for these plans, or to opt out entirely. Opaque OTA business is not right for every property, so be sure that you are maximizing or minimizing these according to your property’s specific booking needs.

Commitment to Clean Program –

Choice Hotels has been actively promoting this Commitment to Clean status to both the general public and its array of corporate business sales, much of which benefits our Econo Lodge brand. Please ensure that your property has taken the necessary steps to comply with this critical program, as the message is going over very favorably with guests and potential guests.

Please follow this link to the Choice Commitment to Clean Hub to access the training module. You must have an active Choice University student account, and be logged in to that account, to access and complete the training module. With QAR inspections underway, this is a critical area being monitored, so be sure your property is fully up to date with all necessary certifications and components in place.