ROCKVILLE, MD.—Choice Hotels has a long history of creating and bolstering hotel ownership opportunities for underrepresented minority entrepreneurs. The person who has led that effort for the last three years and been involved with it for many more is being honored for his work by an organization that is deeply familiar with it.
John Lancaster, Choice Hotels’ Vice President for Emerging Markets, Franchise Development and Owner Relationships, received the “Chairman’s Award” from the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD), which advocates on behalf of African American hoteliers. The award was presented by NABHOOD President and CEO Andy Ingraham at the group’s 27th Annual International African American Hotel Ownership and Investment Summit in Miami in recognition of his efforts to promote diversity in hotel ownership, operations, and development.
“I’m truly honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Lancaster. “I wake up every morning with a commitment to help create generational wealth for underrepresented minorities in our industry. It’s more than a job to me—it’s a purpose. And I’m proud of Choice’s leadership and passion for fueling diversity and equitable opportunity.”
Choice was the first hotel company to establish a dedicated team solely focused on extending the opportunity of hotel ownership to underrepresented populations. The Emerging Markets Program was developed nearly 20 years ago to build relationships within the African American, Hispanic, Native American, and veteran communities and provide incentives for new franchises, such as financial awards and educational opportunities. The program has grown ten-fold since its inception and has now awarded and supported more than 345 diverse franchisee participants.
In 2020, Choice formed the Choice Hotel Owners African American Alliance (CHOAAA), offering African American franchisees a forum to engage with company leadership. In 2021, it launched HERtels by Choice, which is a program to provide training, education, mentorship, and financial assistance to women entrepreneurs and help them thrive as Choice franchisees. Last year, Entrepreneur magazine named Choice one of “The 50 Franchise Companies Doing the Most to Champion Diversity.” Nearly 70 percent of Choice’s franchised hotels in the U.S. are owned by Asian Americans, with many first-, second-, and third-generation owners from the same families.