The ABVI family reunion

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Americas Best Value Inn continues to amaze me. I recently attended the groupâ™s annual convention in Las Vegas, an event thatâ™s like no other in the hotel industry for its openness, honesty and true sense of camaraderie among members and the chainâ™s founders and executives. Here are a few highlights of the conference, which took place at the Monte Carlo Hotel:

â The group will add 173 new members this year, setting a record for the young chain. By the end of the month, ABVI will have 579 open properties and 20 more in the application process. That means ABVI will have gone from zero to about 600 properties in six years, undoubtedly a record for any hotel brand in the lodging industryâ™s history.

â Despite its size and diversity, the chain meetings still feel intimate and clubby. Members and executives mix freely as equals. Human dynamo and CEO Roger Bloss summed it up this way: âœPeople always ask me how we will act as the chain grows larger. The answer is simple. We will always be individuals dealing with individuals.â

â One of the conference general sessions included a panel of members who could speak on any aspect of the brand, its programs or executives. The moderators tried valiantly but were unable to elicit any bad comments. Few chains would even dare try such a stunt without fear of a mutiny.

â Vantage Hospitality, ABVIâ™s parent company, launched The Lexington Collection at the conference. This new brand will embrace three- and four-diamond properties but will operate very much as does ABVI. Members have a choice in fee structure and term length, an a la carte menu to choose which amenities and services theyâ™ll offer, and like ABVI, everyone gets a say in how the chain operates.

â Keynote speaker and marketing guru Peter Yesawich challenged ABVI to become âœthe Southwest Airlines of the hotel industryâ but conceded that the group is already there when it comes to its membership practices.

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