Choice Hotel International’s Choice University focuses on learning as a way to drive performance and increase franchisee profitability. We serve a wide variety of learners, comprised of 60,000+ external staff employed by more than 6,500 franchised locations and 14 brands worldwide. We build a culture of learning internally, within the Choice University learning organization, and support franchisees with resources and tools to build their own culture of learning.
Our strategy is built upon four principles: democratization of learning, individualized learning based on needs, partnership with the business, and being results-oriented.
> Democratization of learning: We believe learning should be readily available and accessible, just-in-time and relevant, and delivered in a variety of short-form methods to meet the diverse set of learner and business needs. While other organizations may focus primarily on leader-level learning opportunities, we believe everyone can impact their franchise’s bottom line, particularly in our high guest-facing and service-oriented organization, and we provide learning that empowers line-level employees to understand the bigger impact of their role.
>Individualized based on needs: The learners we serve are external franchisee staff, a group with uncommonly high turnover. We deliver learning content precisely tailored to an individual’s job function, from line-level to leader, that helps with onboarding, speed to performance, and continuous growth and development within their role.
Because leaders have the greatest impact on the performance of their employees and their franchise operations, we offer additional development content to franchise leaders to deepen their business and financial acumen and to enhance their operational and leadership skills. We provide interactive Learning Maps tailored by brand and role to help franchise employees navigate the most relevant content throughout the life cycle of their development during their employment with the hotel.
Even before a hotel opens, we provide new owners with access to our first-in-the-industry Opening Portal leveraging our LMS to combine project management tracking and transparency with a variety of learning resources to help expedite the opening process and ramp performance. Specialized Learning Maps in the Opening Portal address owners’ individualized and specific needs prior to opening and through the early stages of hotel ownership and management.
> Business partners: We are strategic business partners and have built solid working relationships with stakeholders within and outside the company, including franchise owners. We strategically combine the subject matter expertise of stakeholders from across the organization with our learning expertise to co-create learning based on evolving business needs. This allows us to extend our reach, establish buy-in, and provide highly relevant solutions.
Two-way communication often sparks unique insights for stakeholders that help shape their initiatives. Our work with franchise owners allows us to be a bridge between corporate and franchisee performance, because we hear from owners directly and can identify and prioritize their needs and pressure test ideas pre-implementation.
We have also enhanced the technical capabilities of our team members while creating efficiencies within the team that allow us to deliver content soon after identifying a need using an iterative development approach.
>Results-Driven: We have a culture of incorporating measurement thinking and evidence-based practices into all endeavors; by extension, we measure and hold ourselves accountable for the success and ongoing development of the programs we roll out to franchisees and their staff. We review and track the impact of learning initiatives over time and make course corrections as needed. We listen to our franchisees and pay attention to the industry and markets and focus our efforts on the topics that can make the most impact to franchisee business performance.
We recently designed a full suite of new revenue-impacting training covering sales, revenue management, profitability, and loyalty. While our primary focus is to provide learning to franchisees, at times we also assist internal teams in their own training practices including onboarding and ongoing development activities in order to enhance the level of support those teams deliver to franchisees.
We partner with our field consultants, who work one-on-one with franchisees, to upskill on profitability. We also identify the lowest performing franchisee locations and deliver customized learning resources.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Choice University’s learning efforts align tightly with our overall organization’s strategy and are tied to five of six strategic priorities. Senior leaders (including Directors, VPs, SVPs, and C-Level executives) consider learning a way to support the corporate strategy, accomplish objectives, and drive performance.
We are situated within the Operations and Technology business unit of the organization, with the distinct goal of serving the enterprise by preparing our franchisees for success in all facets of their business. We measure and report impacts of learning initiatives activities against key corporate metrics. We are able to demonstrate empirically how what we do makes a difference for our franchisees’ business and our organization’s strategic objectives. We are a learning organization that continuously improves, builds upon our successes, quickly learns from initiatives that fall short, and adapts to meet evolving franchisee and business needs.
Discover how Choice Hotels International created a strategy for learner engagement.