Choice Hotels continues to grow in the domestic market, with a particular focus on the midscale and upscale segments. It's likely to add more brands soon.
Choice Hotels International is one of the half-dozen largest hotel chains by rooms under management. The Maryland-based business has 6,268 hotels open in the U.S. and 1,199 open internationally, as of March 31, for a total of 626,824 rooms.
Through franchising and acquisitions, the company has established itself as a prominent player. Last year, Choice produced record revenue of $1.4 billion and a record net income of $332.2 million.
In 2022, Choice Hotels bought Radisson Hotel Group Americas, underscoring that it’s keen to expand into upscale segments.
Choice Hotels said it had 22 brands as of publication time because it refers to its Comfort brand family as one brand. It has 24 if you include the Comfort sub-brands.
With a portfolio covering markets from economy up to up-scale full service, here’s a look at each one and what they mean for Choice Hotels’ business strategy.
Global Footprint: 702 open in the U.S. as of the end of 2022, about 20 in the pipeline.
Choice Hotels Take: “Easy to find, easy to book, and easy on the wallet. Econo Lodge hotels provide the amenities a traveler needs while still allowing them to stick to the budget.”
Skift Take: Econo Lodge has become a mainstay of affordable travel in North America, with free high-speed internet and free morning coffee. Econo Lodge plays in the affordable segment, where it competes primarily with Days Inn, Super 8, and Red Roof Inn. Before the pandemic, the brand upgraded its amenities. It now has more contemporary vinyl tile floors that have a wood-look finish, a standardization on flat-panel TVs and mini-fridges, updated bedding and more ergonomic desk chairs, updated light fixtures, and improved bedside electrical outlets.
Global Footprint: 503 hotels across the U.S., a handful outside the U.S., and about 21 in the pipeline.
Choice Hotels Take: “When traveling on a budget, Rodeway Inn hotels offer the travel basics with the reliability and security of a national brand you can trust. Principal competitor brands include America’s Best Value Inn and Motel 6.”
Skift Take: Acquired by Choice Hotels in 1990, Rodeway Inn is an economy brand. Like Econo Lodge, Rodeway has been around for decades. One of Choice Hotels’ fastest-growing brands, Rodeway is popular with small hotel owners who prefer to operate under a national brand.
Global Footprint: Roughly 2,000 hotels across the globe, roughly 200 in the pipeline.
Choice Hotels Take: “The Comfort brand is a pioneer in the upper midscale segment and Choice Hotels flagship brand. The largest 100% smoke-free hotel brand in North America, Comfort brand hotels offer complimentary amenities that include a hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and fitness center, and a swimming pool at most locations.”
Skift Take: This is Choice Hotels International’s most significant brand in room count. Launched in 1981, the brand has steadily moved towards a higher-quality product while trying to maintain its value. The group and its franchisees, between 2013 and 2019, invested $2.5 billion in updating the Comfort brand, cutting up to 600 properties that didn’t meet its new quality guidelines.
Global Footprint: A handful.
Choice Hotels Take: “Each oversized suite featuring separate areas for working and relaxing, along with a sleeper sofa.” The company considers Comfort one brand with three extensions.
Skift Take: Principal competitor brands include Holiday Inn Express.
Global Footprint: A handful.
Choice Hotels Take: “Choice Hotels rebranded Comfort in 2018, which brought its Comfort Inn, Comfort Inn & Suites, and Comfort Suites brands under one umbrella.”
Skift Take: A plusher Comfort Inn, such as a heartier breakfast and nicer appliances and furniture. A counterpart to brands like Fairfield Inn & Suites. A new perk is a free Stroopwaffle cookie being tested at some locations.
Global Footprint: 1,930 hotels worldwide (1,633 in the U.S.), with 49 in the pipeline
Choice Hotels Take: “Quality is the go-to midscale brand for owners thanks to its strong brand equity and value proposition.”
Skift Take: Quality has been around for a while. Initially established in 1939, it’s one of the oldest U.S. hotel chains. These days, Quality is one of Choice Hotels’ biggest conversion brands, focusing on midscale, affordable accommodation.
Global Footprint: 423 in the U.S., 25 elsewhere, 102 in the pipeline.
Choice Hotels Take: “A proven leader in the midscale space, Sleep Inn offers developers a cost-effective investment opportunity that is stylish and affordable for guests.”
Skift Take: A midscale brand, Sleep Inn offers simple, modern rooms with complimentary Wi-Fi and a design-led approach to accommodation. After extensive market research and continued success in the domestic market, the brand was introduced to Europe in 2022. In the U.S., a brand refresh starting in 2024 will add wellness offerings and give a makeover to guest rooms and public spaces.
Global Footprint: More than 240 open, about 20 in the pipeline
Choice Hotels Take: “With superior facilities and exceptional accommodations, the Clarion brand has upscale properties. Clarion helps business and leisure guests ‘get together’ by providing meeting/banquet facilities, restaurants, and lounges. Amenities include free high-speed internet access, a pool or fitness center, and a business center.”
Skift Take: Clarion is an upper midscale brand targeting business and leisure travelers with a slight skew toward the former. It’s a conversion brand, meaning not new construction. One comparable rival is Marriott’s Four Points by Sheraton.
Global Footprint: Over 50 open hotels in the U.S.
Choice Hotels Take: “With superior facilities and exceptional accommodations, the Clarion brand has upscale properties providing first-class service to our guests whether traveling for business or leisure.”
Skift Take: Clarion Pointe, a conversion brand launched in 2019, offers much of what Clarion does, but with lower prices in exchange for fewer services.
Latest Choice Hotels News
Global Footprint: 65 hotels in the U.S. open, and 69 in the pipeline
Choice Hotels Take: “Designed for the modern traveler, the vibe is modern, approachable, and stylish. Cambria hotels offer design-forward accommodations and the chance to enjoy little indulgences.”
Skift Take: Cambria targets millennial travelers seeking authentic experiences and local touches. It’s an upscale brand offering quirky tech, locally sourced craft beer, and gyms. About two-thirds of Cambria Hotels have Bluetooth mirrors installed, and about 41% have charging stations for electrical vehicles. The brand continues to expand across the U.S., with representation in most major cities.
Global Footprint: 326 hotels open (196 of these in the U.S.), 41 in the pipeline
Choice Hotels Take: “Ascend Hotel Collection is a membership of upscale, independent hotels designed for travelers pursuing distinct experiences in unforgettable surroundings.”
Skift Take: Widely considered the first ever “soft brand” in the hotel industry, Ascend brings together some of the finest boutique hotels in the world under the Choice Hotels brand. Hotels usually have a strong historic appeal or tap into the neighborhood’s vibe, positioning the brand close to the lifestyle segment. It’s also highly lucrative for the hotels (on the last count, Ascend’s ADR was $134.80), which enjoy the autonomy of an independent alongside the resources of a significant chain.
Global Footprint: 116 hotels open, 90 in the pipeline.
Choice Hotels Take: “MainStay Suites is an all-suites extended stay brand that helps guests maintain their lifestyle while away from home.”
Skift Take: In 1996, Mainstay Suites was Choice Hotels’ first move into the extended stay market. The brand takes a residential-style approach, targeting business travelers with apartment-style suites, fully equipped kitchens, and inclusive high-speed internet.
Global Footprint: 75 hotels in the U.S., 35 in the pipeline
Choice Hotels Take: “Our extended stay hotels meet your needs with hassle-free registration and comfortable, clean, and affordable spaces.”
Skift Take: Choice Hotels’ economy offering in the extended-stay space. Rebranded from Suburban Extended Stay Hotel in 2022, the brand has been a part of Choice Hotels’ portfolio for almost 20 years. Suburban’s rebrand and modernization suggest that low-cost extended-stay is an area Choice wants to grow soon. Peers include Extended Stay America Select Suites, InTown Suites, HomeTowne Studios, and Studio 6.
Global Footprint: One in Southern California, 99 in the U.S. in the pipeline
Choice Hotels Take: “This franchised set of newly constructed, midscale hotels are designed to help maintain routine on the road with apartment-style suites featuring fully equipped kitchens with dishwashers and cookware, as well as customizable ‘me’ spaces, including movable workstations, full-size closets, and additional storage.”
Skift Take: Introduced in January 2020, the pandemic delayed developer adoption of this brand, with the first one opening in September 2022. The hotels have contemporary public spaces, such as 24/7 fitness centers with Peloton bikes, guest laundry facilities, free high-speed internet, and self-service convenience stands with a handful of food staples.
Global Footprint: 212 open, 223 in the pipeline
Choice Hotels Take: “WoodSpring Suites extended stay hotels are refreshingly different from other extended stay hotels, offering the perfect mixture of home-like comforts and hotel-like conveniences.”
Skift Take: Added to the Choice Hotel’s growing extended-stay portfolio in 2018, Woodspring Suites’ acquisition shows how much stock the company has placed in the sector. Expect plenty more expansion where that came from.
Global Footprint: 255 hotels across the Americas and the Caribbean. Choice only has the ones in the Americas, while another company runs the properties elsewhere in the world.
Choice Hotels Take: “Radisson offers an upscale travel experience. With clean, modern designs, thoughtfully considered details, and various services, these properties focus on providing excellent work/life balance for guests during their travels.”
Skift Take: Given its “work/life” mantra, it’s a popular option for business travelers, who favor it for its locations (many are close to airports), business center spaces, wellness areas and free Wi-Fi.
Global Footprint: 530-plus hotels across the Americas and Asia Pacific.
Choice Hotels Take: “Country Inn & Suites by Radisson is a leader in upper-midscale hospitality with more than 530 locations across the Americas and Asia Pacific. The brand’s three signature amenities are free Wi-Fi, fitness centers, and a free, hot breakfast served daily.”
Skift Take: It’s a whole lotta country, and not very much rock ‘n’ roll. It has a welcoming vibe in its shared spaces. Founded in 1986, the brand has grown steadily since 2018, when it rebranded from “Country Inns & Suites by Carlson” to capitalize on the better-known Radisson name. It’s the largest brand in Radisson’s portfolio by property count.
Global Footprint: Choice owns one in Bloomington, Minnesota; another company runs the brand outside of the Americas
Choice Hotels Take: “The Radisson Blu brand provides an upper upscale hotel experience distinguished by positive, personalized service and iconic buildings with stylish spaces.”
Skift Take: Radisson Blu properties — or at least the ones we’ve been to — are very nice. The majority of them are concentrated in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, where it is run by another company. The brand plays in the upper upscale segment.
Global Footprint: Choice only has the 4 in the U.S., including one it owns in Minneapolis. Another company operates the brand outside of the Americas.
Choice Hotels Take: “Welcome to Radisson RED, a playful twist on the conventional. From great everyday essentials to Instagrammable statements, RED delivers a stand-out experience.”
Skift Take: Radisson’s bid to woo millennials, these urban select-served hotels go all out with quirky statement design and an emphasis on bars, restaurants and communal spaces. Music, art and creativity play a big part in the brand’s aesthetic.
Global Footprint: Ten in Choice’s portfolio. It has the option to build Americas-based counterparts to this brand, which another company runs outside of the Americas
Choice Hotels Take: “Radisson Individuals is an upscale affiliation brand that offers hotels the benefits of our expertise, infrastructure, and brand recognition while celebrating each property’s distinct personality. These hotels are located in renowned cities, close to airports and key business and leisure destinations.”
Skift Take: Another soft brand collection that lets owners of high-end hotels get the benefits of distribution and technology from a global hotel group without having to accept many brand, design, or operational rules from headquarters. Mostly right now Choice’s collection include hotels co-branded as Faranada.
Global Footprint: None currently in Choice’s portfolio, though it has the option to build Americas-based counterparts to this brand, which another company runs outside of the Americas.
Choice Hotels Take: “Radisson Collection is a unique collection of iconic properties. While the character of each hotel feels authentic to its locality, all offer the ultimate template for contemporary living.”
Skift Take: Radisson’s luxury brand had a big year in 2022, with six new openings in Bilbao, Pula, Tirana, Riyadh, Tallinn, and Istanbul. More expansion is on the agenda, with plans for a new hotel in Milan, Galle (Sri Lanka), Lyon, and Vilnius. When this soft brand emerged in 2014, it was marketed as appealing to the younger luxury traveler. But it doesn’t seem that different from any other luxury soft brand collection.
Global Footprint: 17 in the U.S.
Choice Hotels Take: “Our hotels are located in capital cities, around economic and transit hubs, and near airports and railway stations, offering convenience for all.”
Skift Take: With a smaller U.S. presence, Park Inn by Radisson is a midscale brand aimed predominantly at business travelers. However, due to its contemporary designs, modern facilities and good locations, it’s also popular with leisure travelers.
Global Footprint: N/A
Choice Hotels Take: “Park Plaza welcomes guests with authentic service, contemporary spirit, and local knowledge at cultural hubs around the country.”
Skift Take: Radisson’s version of Marriott’s Renaissance Hotels. The brand was included in Choice Hotels’ 2022 purchase of Radisson Hotels Group Americas, but its U.S. plans remain unclear.
Radisson Inn & Suites
Global footprint: None yet in the Americas. Choice Hotels has the option to develop this brand in the U.S. but hasn’t yet. Another company runs the brand outside of the Americas.
Choice Hotels Take: To be determined.
Skift Take: We’re skeptical Choice Hotels will invest in this brand in the Americas.
—Additional fact-checking by Sean O’Neill.
Choice Hotels at Skift Events
Radisson Hotel Group’s Inge Huijbrechts at the Skift Sustainable Tourism Summit in June 2022.
Brian Kirkland, Chief Technology Officer at Choice Hotels International, at Skift Global Forum 2020.
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Photo credit: Cambria Choice Hotels. Choice Hotels