All posts by Louis Smith

Covid-19 Crisis Notes

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.

Potential Revenue Opportunities – Via member feedback, we are seeing many opportunities arise from public health and safety offices in various areas around the country. Some of these entities are renting large blocks of hotel rooms or leasing an entire property outright for up to a year. If you feel your property and business would benefit from such an arrangement, please connect with your local officials to see if there is a need.

AHLA is also assisting in this effort. Please find a link to a form that they are sharing with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alerting them to properties that may be available in times of need.

We are seeing other opportunities with colleges and universities that may face challenges with existing dorm configurations and are thus seeking alternative living arrangements for students. If your property is in close proximity to such an institution, try connecting with their Housing office to see if they may be active in the market.

Front Desk / Night Window – If your property has a night window, we suggest that this be utilized for all guest interactions and transactions and that lobbies remain closed. You should be protected from chargebacks with the use of EMV machines even without a signature by utilizing the Signature On File (SOF) feature (guest signature should be on folio).

Breakfast / Coffee – This requirement has been suspended through September 30, 2020 by Choice Hotels as it impacts the safety of both employees and guests.

Attached is a notice for guests to acknowledge that has been circulating from hotels that can be put to use at your property to better assist in communicating local government mandates and cutbacks in services and amenities. It is in Word form so you can edit your property info as needed.

Room Cleaning / Amenities by Request – With stayover guests, please offer housekeeping services only by request. Amenities for stayovers can be provided via night window or drop offs to room exteriors.

Ecolab has provided an excellent video for back of house preparation and cleaning regimens, including an extensive Q&A at the end. It is a longer video coming in just under one hour, but it does offer excellent tips and insight.

Choice Hotels Financial Assistance – While other brands have offered across the board fee relief and deferrals, Choice Hotels has focused immediate relief systemwide in areas where services are being curtailed – Medallia and revenue management for examples – and choosing instead to focus more of its relief effort on properties that are experiencing worse hardships than others.

We encourage any properties facing extensive and potentially catastrophic hardships to connect with Matt Martin in Choice’s Owner & Portfolio Strategy Operations department at Matthew.Martin@choicehotels.com. Please let ELFA or your ELFA regional director know if you are engaging with Matthew’s department so we can best track progress and results.

Choice Hotels Covid-19 Update

The Commitment to Clean Captain training deadline is coming up July 1st. Please make every effort to have a member of your staff who will be responsible for overseeing your property’s cleanliness efforts complete this training and certification prior to this deadline.

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.

Back To Business Webinar Series

The new Econo Lodge Area Manager team just recently completed a 4-part webinar series on pushing revenue opportunities and reviewing the Commitment to Clean program for Econo Lodge properties.

If you missed any or all of these webinar sessions, please connect with your Econo Lodge Area Manager for resources and materials that were shared and distributed to virtual attendees. Items include:

  • Cleaning Schedule Use on ChoiceAdvantage
  • Covid Product and Vendor Updates
  • Final Hotel Restart Checklist
  • Revenue Management & Sales Tips
  • More

Look for a new webinar series to begin after the July 4th holiday.

Please continue to visit Choice Central and elfa.org for regular updates and access to industry resources.

AAHOA Covid-19 Resource Page Update

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), the largest hotel advocacy group in the US, is providing resources and information to assist all hoteliers, whether you are a member of AAHOA or not.

Please visit the AAHOA Covid-19 Resource Center for industry updates and access to live and ongoing webcasts and other resources.

AAHOA has helpful industry webcasts scheduled almost daily. Please visit their Resource Page for registration links to upcoming Webcasts and for access to view past webcasts. These include top professionals from throughout the industry and have proven very helpful in gaining a better understanding of what is unfolding and what resources are out there to assist.

Upcoming webcast topics include getting your revenue management and sales strategy ready for recovery, minimizing cash outflows, and more relevant topics to operating now and preparing for what’s ahead.

ELFA has worked closely with AAHOA on industry and franchise issues throughout the years, and we will continue to work closely with and rely on them for their knowledge and expertise as we head further into uncharted waters, and share resources with our members as they become available.

Small Business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Details Released

The Treasury Department has released further information about the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Here are links to the documents that were released:

One-Page Overview Document

An Application for the PPP

PPP Information Fact Sheet for Borrowers

Starting on April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply to the program using the application form above. For additional resources, you can also access the Economic Injury Disaster Loans Application here: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

You can find out much more about the SBA’s extensive relief and support efforts at their Coronavirus (Covid-19): Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources page. Thank you to Choice U for providing this link.

AAHOA continues to host webinars on various important topics facing all hoteliers, and past webinars, along with a trove of industry resources and updates, are available to review on the AAHOA Covid-19 Resource Page. We urge you to check in here often for new content.

ELFA is extremely grateful to AAHOA for their continued guidance, leadership, and open arms to all hoteliers during this unprecedented time.

Covid-19 Resource Update

ELFA recently sent out an e-mail to members covering topics that help to offer immediate financial relief. If you are a member and did not receive this e-mail, please e-mail Executive Director Louis Smith at lsmith.elfa@gmail.com so we can ensure we have a best e-mail address for future ELFA e-mail updates.

With each area, the key has been to be pro-active – acting now before finances and resources make situations more dire and more difficult to overcome.

Financing / Debt Service:
Connect with your lender immediately on payment deferrals (3-6 mo.), interest-only status, or other creative strategies. The banking industry is healthy, unlike the 2008 financial crisis, they are expecting these calls, and to date this is showing to be highly effective for those hoteliers who are pro-actively in contact.

Utilities / Telecom:
Reach out to your local providers of all services and request deferrals, abatements, or other remedies to assist during the next 90-120 days. This may also involve reaching out and connecting to your local legislators and municipal leaders requesting utilities relief. This also is proving highly effective.

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SBA Loans Are Available Now

What You Need to Do to Apply

The following was provided via Choice Hotels Corporate Comuunications.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) introduced significant changes to the loan process that make it easier and faster to obtain funding for your business:

  • Processing time for many has been reduced from 60 days to three weeks or less.
  • Applications are shorter and streamlined.

Do you need help covering your mortgage? Are you able to pay your staff?

These are just some of the issues facing many in the hotel industry right now.

Read More

Helpful Information from Our Friends at CHOC

In our efforts to offer as much helpful and timely information as possible, we wanted to share the following tips that the Choice Hotel Owners Council had recently shared with its membership. Many thanks to CHOC Chairman Sam Patel and Executive Director Cassandra Hill for their assistance during this period.

There is also a FAQ Section following that we at ELFA found very helpful. Please expand below to read more.

Pro-Active Steps:

·        Immediately reaching out to your lender and making sure of the following:

·        Your file is updated;

·        Sharing with your lender information showing revenue declines/reservation cancellations;

·        Asking your lender the process involved for a request for rate reduction, interest only and/or forbearance so that you can start preparing from now.

Read More

Econo Lodge Covid-19 Brand Response Information

ELFA Members,

This is an unprecedented time in our industry and for you as a business owner. We at ELFA are dedicated to providing as much information as possible to members to help best maneuver through this crisis.

We will continue to update elfa.org with relevant and timely information as we gather it. We encourage you to please be diligent in being on the lookout for communications from Choice Hotels. We will work to provide links and other directions to helpful resources as things develop.

If you haven’t recently, please take a moment to visit the Econo Lodge Covid-19 Brand Response Information page. This page will be refreshed regularly so please bookmark it in your system for quick access.

NOTE: The deadline for Eclipse Collection linen program has been extended from July 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021. See Brand Page above.

ELFA leadership will continue to reach out to Choice Hotels leadership on guidance and, most importantly, support for our franchisees as we sail into uncharted territory.

Though it may sometimes feel like we are each alone in this process, please know that you have a family in ELFA to reach out to. We are dedicated to working towards the best possible outcomes for our Econo Lodge franchisee members, and will do our best to achieve that as the situation continues to unfold.

Coranavirus (Covid-19) Update – 12 March 2020

With a rapidly unfolding and changing landscape surrounding the current Coronavirus outbreak and global spread, we wanted to provide easy access to Choice Hotels corporate communications and updates, along with additional information from trusted industry providers.

Choice Hotels Coronavirus Update, with new cancellation policy updates.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information and Product Review: Ecolab

Additional Online Resources from Ecolab:
     Presentation Link
Video Webinar
Ecolab Website FAQ
Ecolab Covid-19 Website

ELFA leadership has remained in close contact with Choice Hotels leadership as this industry and health crisis has unfolded. We have witnessed significant drop-offs in reservation activity, both domestic and international, and we all share facing an uncertain landscape on the horizon.

Please be alert for corporate communications from Choice Hotels. ELFA will do its part to assist in getting information out to membership as it becomes available, both via e-mails and information and links posted on elfa.org

Urgent Disruptions: While this crisis is having a significant negative impact on all facets of the travel industry, some locations and areas are under greater threat, and face greater negative impact, than others. If you are facing a severe financial hardship that endangers your business, please feel free to reach out to your ELFA Regional Director with information and updates so that we may best inform Choice and work to try and mitigate dire situations as best as possible. We are here to assist members in any way that we can.

Important December 31st Year-End Deadlines

With time running out in 2019, it is critical to note several important compliance deadlines from Choice Hotels affecting all Econo Lodges.

Merchant Acquisition Initiative –

Announced at Convention, ALL Choice Hotels properties must shift their payment card processing service over to one of three providers – Bank of America, World Pay, or Elavon – by December 31st. [This mandate and service is separate from the continued mandate for Shift4 as the sole processing “gateway” service.]

ELFA has done its homework on this throughout the year and has elected to put its support behind Elavon as our preferred processor of the three. Elavon has agreed to provide ELFA and its members with not only a dedicated support team to assist with the switchover itself – often a problematic occurrence – but also this same dedicated support team to work with our members afterwards.

We highly encourage all ELFA members and Econo Lodge franchisees in general to reach out to Elavon and request the “ELFA Program” support program. There is no additional charge for this enhanced service level – Choice has negotiated set terms for all three providers. What we have put in place is simply leveraging our size to ensure that the many owner / operators that comprise the Econo Lodge brand don’t get lost amid the larger accounts that higher grossing branded properties may command.

Elavon Contact Info:
(866) 868-3391
E-mail: hospitalitysales@elavon.com
www.elavon.com/choicehotels

Econo Lodge Property Photo Refresh –

Also announced at Convention, Choice Hotels has mandated that all Econo Lodges must have updated property photography on their Choice Hotels brand page that reflects the property upgrades made during the recent Guest Room Improvement Program (GRIP).

Everyone has made sizable investments in their Econo Lodge properties over the past few years, and it is critical to ensure that the public at large can see these changes online to help drive revenue and additional business.

While the deadline for having these new photos appearing online is March 1, 2020, there is a December 31st deadline to have contracted with one of Choice Hotels authorized photography providers to schedule this work.

At our recent Economy Brands Fall Education Summits, two of Choice’s photography providers offered $699 package specials to accomplish this. Please see the attached flyers from RTV and CS3 If you have not already updated your property photography OR have not yet scheduled with a provider to do so, please try to take advantage of one of these before year’s end. Note: Choice Hotels will only accept photographs and images from one of their authorized providers.

Choice Privileges Elite Reserved Parking Sign Install – December 31st

Elite Reserved parking signs should already be delivered to your property. These should be posted up in convenient spots for guests.

Eclipse Linen Collection – July 1, 2020

This linen initiative was announced at Convention in 2018 for all mid-scale brands and up plus Econo Lodge. While other brands have until December 31st to fully change over to this new linen, ELFA worked to extend the Econo Lodge deadline to July 1, 2020 to help ensure that this switchover would not create undue burdens on our often limited space and equipment.

In order to ensure that you are able to meet this July 1st deadline for 100% conversion, it is advised to work towards placing an order for the Eclipse Collection by year’s end, as delivery and order fulfillment is getting squeezed by the switchover from all other brands.

If you have not ordered your Eclipse Collection material yet, please connect with ELFA sponsor Amtex – a Choice-licensed provider – and start this process soon.