Where Do Choice Directors Stay?
By Mike Rosenwald
Footnoted.org is a wonderful blog that digs deep into company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, shining a light on things that executives hope we journalists don't find. This week, an entry caught my attention: "Why won't Choice's directors stay at their hotels?"
Choice Hotels is a Silver Spring company whose brands, including Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn and the Econo Lodge, tend toward the downscale side of the lodging industry.
Like other hotel companies, Choice has a perk for its senior executive and board members that is designed to get them to stay the firm's properties.
Choice's is called "Stay at Choice," and the firm's recent proxy explains the program thusly: "We offer the 'Stay at Choice' program as we seek to encourage our senior executives to use our hotels when traveling on personal matters as they are the best source of input and feedback as to the quality and comfort of our product."
It turns out, according to Footnoted's digging, that only three Choice directors took advantage last year of a company perk that encourages them to stay at the chain's properties.
The blog noted that "the 6 independent directors only spent $1,212 at Choice properties last year. Actually, that $1,212 was only spent by three directors, since three directors didn't use the perk -- called Stay at Choice -- at all. ... It's hard to imagine how Audit Committee Chair John Schwieters, who rang up $156 at Choice properties -- could glean much from that kind of visit."
If the Choice directors are curious about what it's like to stay the company's properties, they should take Bruce Haase to lunch. He's the senior vice president for brand operations, and he racked up a "Stay at Choice" bill of $4,494.
I guess the question for Choice directors is this: Would you rather be on the board of Marriott International, whose properties include Ritz-Carlton?
April 10, 2008; 1:55 PM ET
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