The last two years have impacted the hospitality industry significantly with staffing shortages, government restrictions, supply chain issues and the unpredictability of customers as they continued to weigh up the risk and reward of socialising indoors.
It has certainly been a challenging time for businesses both small and large. That said, and taking an optimistic view, the pandemic has also afforded opportunity for the hospitality industry to review operations and challenge industry practices across many parts of the sector.
I’m encouraged to see the hospitality industry evolving at pace and investment being made to understand changing guest needs to really inform change.
Having spoken with franchise partners in the region, in order to appreciate the imperatives for performance and portfolio growth, what I anticipated, and they confirmed, was a resurgence of interest in franchising as the model for hospitality businesses.
Now this could, in part, be driven by a desire in people to seize new opportunities, take more control, and shape their own futures. (Today more people are searching with Google for “How to start a Business” than “How to find a job”!)
We are clearly witnessing a new generation of energised entrepreneurs looking to more deeply engage and ‘upgrade’ their passion for hospitality and manage their own business.
People are encouraged by franchising to harness their entrepreneurial spirit, they want to run their own business and control their own destiny but with the support of their franchise partner for the aspects they could not do on their own such as loyalty initiatives, systems innovations, having a global network and training opportunities.
However, franchising in hospitality has been a successful business model for years.
From hotels to restaurants, pet care to education, the franchise industry provides self-employment opportunities that can enable industrious would-be CEOs to build a fruitful and rewarding business.
What are the benefits of franchising?
Franchising as a business model is a significant economy contributor.
Today thousands of people are employed by franchising brands, many of which are household names such as McDonalds, Starbucks, Subway and Choice Hotels yet the business of franchising is an old business model.
The real benefit of franchising, however, is the model allows a business owner to access to a proven business model that can evidence its success as an operation and with the leverage of powerful brand recognition that can be replicated in another location.
Added to this, you can expect the franchisor to provide access to performance-driving tools and knowledge such as marketing, revenue management, connectivity etc. While success cannot be guaranteed therefore, the risk can be reduced with a franchise providing a level of reassurance since it is a proven business model.
When compared to going into business alone, franchising has a significantly lower failure rate with on average, over 40% of standalone businesses failing compared to less than 5% of franchisee businesses. (*www.thebfa.org)
Call it entrepreneurial or self-employment, franchising provides an outstanding business opportunity and is now seen as an exciting and diverse industry and a genuinely realistic option for many people who want to start their own business.
Franchising in Hospitality
Franchisees very often have their own vision for how they want to deliver an exceptional hotel experience, whilst also driving investment performance.
With that in mind, franchising should be about ensuring owners are empowered to be in business for themselves—but not by themselves.
Historically, franchising has been seen as a stricter, though successful, model that leaves little room for personalisation.
Hospitality franchising of the future could be far more than an exercise in compliance with a lengthy list of brand standards.
Companies should be building valued and trusted partnerships with franchisees and enabling easy access to knowledge exchange for small and large business entrepreneurs.
A great franchise therefore should provide the levels of reassurance of a brand whilst maintaining the freedom to own and build the business within an agreed framework.
Looking to the future, focus needs to be on delivering insight-led, guest relevant brands whilst at the same time adding value for franchisees through opportunities for local customisation and revenue-enhancing hallmarks.
Balancing revenue-driving focus with delivering long-term performance gains requires a more customised approach, delivering solutions relevant and valuable to franchisees varying business needs.
This ranges from insight-led branded guest experiences and products to efficient connectivity and revenue mix as well as providing the technical expertise, support, and structure with the autonomy for franchisees to own and build their business in the local market. And I think an approachable and easy-to do business with attitude is key in all of this.
As the world continues to open back up and the pent-up demand for travel is realised, I anticipate flexible operating models and the ability to adapt will only grow in value.
I am sure we will see hoteliers of the future, that choose to franchise, operating successfully in this continually evolving environment.