IHG’s extended stay brands, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, have raised the industry’s first and only extended stay owner certification program to a higher level through a new master’s certification. Designed to build upon what is learned in the bachelor’s class, the new program expands the content to teach owners how to continually improve the performance of their hotels. Topics for discussion in the program include the owner’s role in leading the sales effort, driving guest satisfaction and quality, and leadership and organizational performance.
“This proprietary program is an important part of our strategy to encourage owner involvement and commitment to the success of our brands,” said Robert Radomski, vice president, Global Brand Management, Extended Stay Brands, IHG. “For an owner to be profitable in the extended stay segment, there’s a very specific business model that’s required, and our new master’s level certification covers that business model from a deeper perspective.”
The curriculum for the master’s program is centered on fewer topics than what’s covered at the bachelor’s level, but these topics are covered from a deeper perspective. The goal is to help owners grow market share, improve guest satisfaction and gain a higher return on their investment.
A recent graduate of the program, David Wespiser is a managing member at Hotel Development Services, LLC, a privately held national real estate development, construction and management company with several IHG hotels in its portfolio, including five Staybridge Suites hotels. Wespiser is also a member of the IHG Owners Association, serving on the Staybridge Suites brand committee and the Developer committee.
“I feel like I can always learn more about how to be a good hotel owner, especially when it comes to the extended stay segment, and this program gives me the chance to analyze the performance of my hotels and earn a level of education that I can’t get anywhere else,” said Wespiser. “I’ve found what I’ve learned here to be very beneficial as I’ve worked with my management companies and discussed how to improve the performance of our hotels on an ongoing basis.”
Two master’s level classes have been held to date and sessions will continue as more owners qualify. To attend, owners must have previously attended a bachelor’s level class and must have a designated level of extended stay mix, guest satisfaction scores above a pre-determined threshold, and a designated RevPAR index.
In 2008, IHG took major steps toward sustaining the ongoing health and success of the Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites hotel portfolios through the launch of an in-depth education program for owners of both new and existing hotels. The “Extended Stay Owner Certification” program is structured similar to college education levels starting with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. The bachelor’s-level class focuses on hiring the right team members, targeting the right guest, using the extended stay operations model and working with the brands’ field resources.