Bruce Haase, executive vice president of global brands, marketing, and operations for Choice Hotels International, recently signed on as the newest member of the national board of directors for the organization’s signature cause partner Rebuilding Together, serving as the treasurer and finance committee chair. Haase recently discussed his appointment to the board and Choice’s involvement with the organization with Lodging Editor Len Vermillion.
1. Len Vermillion: Can you explain what Rebuilding Together is and Choice Hotels International’s involvement? Bruce Haase: On September 11, 2009, Choice Hotels launched our “Room to Rebuild” program, a three-year, multimillion dollar partnership between Choice and our signature cause partner Rebuilding Together in which our associates across the country work on revitalization projects in their own backyards. Rebuilding Together is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize neighborhoods by providing critical home repair and modification services to those in need at no cost to homeowners.
2. LV: What can Choice employees bring to the cause? BH: As an organization that franchises over 6,000 hotels worldwide, we have a responsibility to give back to the communities in which our employees, franchisees and guests live, work and travel. Within 65 days of launching the “Room to Rebuild” program last year, Choice associates and franchisees put in nearly 5,000 volunteer hours dedicated to Rebuilding Together projects. The Room to Rebuild program provides rewarding volunteer opportunities for Choice associates around the country, including local rebuilding projects, creating care packages for project houses, and more.
3. LV: On a personal level you’re now involved as a board member, why did you decide it was important to make that commitment? BH: I always look forward to our projects with Rebuilding Together because it makes such a positive changes for those in need, but also because it truly brings people from so many different levels throughout our organization together for a worthy cause outside our office. After watching our partnership with Rebuilding Together grow and seeing how it brought together so many people across the organization—from our franchisees to our corporate associates—it struck a nerve. I realized how important this organization is and how positive this experience is for Choice International. Seeing the significant impact Rebuilding Together has had on so many lives, I’ve become very passionate about the organization’s success.
4. LV: As a board member, how can you help Rebuilding Together reach its goals? BH: I look forward to helping to advance the mission and vision of Rebuilding Together, bringing my operational and financial experience, as well as extensive knowledge and understanding of the organization itself, to the table. I look forward to the many great projects we’ll work on together in the future and can’t wait to start making some positive changes for those in need.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2012 by Robert Bruleigh
Mr. Bruce Haase,
Please find the following outlining the poor level of customer service and lack of communication that your company provides. I have full documentation at your disposal.
Sincerely, Bob B.
Dear Mr Bruleigh: Thank you for contacting me regarding your recent experiences with the Comfort Suites. I appreciate that you took the time to bring the issues with a smoking charge to my attention.
Your feedback is important to Choice and has been noted by my office. As you may or may not know, each Choice Hotel property is independently owned and operated. Choice Hotels is not involved in the day to day operation of the properties; additionally the local management sets and maintains many of their billing policies, including those surrounding charges for smoking.
Due to the issues you have raised I must defer to the local management of the Comfort Suites. Having researched the situation, I see that they have responded to your complaint; given their findings in the room and the extensive cleaning process that followed, they are unwilling to refund the smoking charge of $168.00. As the hotel has sole authority over this policy, I must consider their response final.
I apologize for any inconvenience follow up on this situation may have caused you, and I hope you will view this matter as an isolated incident, an exception to the high standards of service and hospitality that our hotels are known to offer.
Choice Hotels International
From: Robert Bruleigh [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 7:32 AM
To: CH Socialmedia
Subject: charged for smoking in room!
Thank you for taking the time to look into our situation, we sincerely appreciate it! This is what has happened to us on a recent trip to the Gulf Coast area...My wife and I checked in to Comfort Suites (AL236) located at Tillman's Corner, Alabama late on the night of 1/14/12. We were exhausted after traveling since 5:00 am and were greeted by a courteous and friendly front desk and we were also happy to learn that the facility is non-smoking. We had stopped at an adjacent hotel on the way in that had allowed smoking but given my wife's asthtma and the fact that I can't stand being around smoke myself, we decided to go elsewhere. After a good nights sleep, we departed fairly early and were on our way. Upon arriving back at our home in NH, I discovered that a charge of $168.00 was levied against my account by the hotel. I called the hotel that day (1/18) and spoke to a manager, Ms. Jamie Buchanan, who said because we had smoked in the room, we were being charged for cleaning the room! I immediately told her that this had to be some sort of mistake, that she had either had the wrong room number or that she had the wrong date of stay as we are non-smokers, my wife has asthma and we left the room in excellent condition (my wife even picked up and put the dirty towels into the tub!). I asked to speak to her supervisor and she said she was in charge and that she would talk to the housekeeper that cleaned the room and call me back in the AM. I never received a call from the establishment. I called the corporate office and told the representative (Donna) the situation and she advised me that if I issued a formal complaint that the hotel would have to respond within 72 hours. I did issue a complaint, case #6323692 and 72 hours came and went and again, still no call or contact from the hotel. I called the corporate office again on 7/22, spoke to another representative, Bryon, who said that because it was a weekend I shouldn't expect a call in 72 hours. I explained the incident to him and gave him the case # and he said a report had been filed by the hotel describing evidence of smoking in the hotel room and that there was nothing he could do other than advise us to speak directly with the hotel as they were dealing with the situation, had filed the report, etc. So the next day I did call the hotel and asked about the status of our situation and questioned why they had never contacted us? Ms. Toni Janssen explained that because I had called the corporate office that they would not be contacting us. At this point I'm like "IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING???!!" I asked for a copy of the report from the hotel describing the smoking evidence along with a copy of the sign in sheet, which the hotel did send to me. The report simply states "gst smoked in room." Ms. Janssen said that ashes were found in the sink and there was a strong cigarette smell in the room and the rugs had to be shampooed, walls scrubbed, etc. At this point we are dum-founded!
We have gotten no satisfaction in dealing with this company thus far and it is extremely frustrating getting the run around and continually hearing that we smoked in the room when we never did. In fact, neither of us have ever smoked in our lives and the fact that my wife has a chronic asthmatic condition seems to be falling on deaf ears. At no time from the point of our checking in until we checked out did any smoking occur in this room, this is truly outrageous! It is unnerving to learn that this company, the same one where my wife and I placed trust for our own personal safety and security that night would perpetrate this against us. I would highly recommend the hotel install smoke detectors or have management go through the room upon check-out, with the guests, to ensure this does not happen again to other guests. How else do we guests prove our inocense (and why should we have to?) This is even more problematic now that we are over 1000 miles away!
We have only asked that the amount of $168.00 charged to our account be reversed as we did not smoke in the room, this is the simple and honest truth. We have been patient in our dealings with this company to this point but we are becoming very tired of defending ourselves and not being heard.
Thank you for reading this note and please let us know if you would like any documentation regarding this situation.
Bob and Nylora Bruleigh
A friend was recently charged a smoking fee for a room in Alabama despite NEVER having smoked in her life! Nobody will help her with this- it was a huge charge and I have known her since we were kids, there is no way she would have smoked nor does her husband (the only two in the room).
can you help her out?
LikeUnlike · · 25 January at 12:00 ·
Kristina Bailey Has anyone else been hit with a charge like this?
25 January at 12:03 · LikeUnlike.Choice Hotels We’re sorry to read this! Please email email@example.com – we’ll do what we can to help.
25 January at 12:56 · LikeUnlike.Kristina Bailey Nylora Bruleigh Please read above!!
25 January at 12:57 · LikeUnlike.Kristina Bailey Thank you- she has spent hours on the phone trying to get this resolved and has gotten nowhere but very frustrated.
25 January at 12:58 · LikeUnlike.
Nylora Bruleigh CPP, C.Ph., M.Photog.Cr
PPA Photographer of the Year 2011
Reply to CH Socialmedia
Reply to CH Socialmedia Send
Thursday, January 26, 2012 by Anonymous
i think you do an outstanding job, carry on
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 by Gloria Valenti
Dear Bruce Haase,
ACCIDENT ON DECEMBER 25, 2011
Arrived at the Salt Lake City Comfort Inn Airport Hotel on December 24th for an overnight stay to fly out on December 25th for a family vacation. We were told at check in that it would be best if we took the 4:30 am shuttle to the airport tomorrow morning, December 25th. That morning, there was two other passengers beside my husband and I going to the airport. Upon arrival at the airport, the shuttle driver stopped at the first terminal but took a few minutes to tell us the designated airline terminal. He finally told us it was for American Airlines and United. The driver got out of van and opened the door for the passengers to exit. He proceeded to the back of the van to get our luggage. I was sitting in back of the driver. My husband was first to get off and then the other guy in the backseat. I starting to get out of the van and noticed that the van was a few inches away from the curb. I thought I could make the step but as I proceed to step out, I noticed the stool was not there but it was too late to stop. I fell on my left side and on my left hand. My husband came around the side of the van and noticed that I had fallen and ask if I was okay. I told him I didn't know but I did not have anything broken, I didn't think. He took me under the left arm but I could not get up. The other gentleman that was getting off at the same terminal asked if you could help me up. I told him yes so my husband grabbed one side and the other gentleman grabbed the other side. I got up on my feet okay. I told my husband there was definitely nothing broke but I was pretty sore and my left hand was red and burning. We went into the airport because our flight was at 5:55 am., we had to get checked in and through security. When we got settled in the plane, we talked about the accident. I asked him if he noticed if the stool was not there and he said it wasn’t there. I asked him where and what the driver did when he saw me on the ground. He told me that the driver just stood there and watched while they picked me up. He said the driver didn't do anything or say anything at that time. During our vacation with family, I had to walk slow, not sleep or lean on my left side. I could not use my left hand to pick anything up heavy. I do have two bruises on my left thigh, one the size of a softball and the other one a little smaller.
When we arrived in Salt Lake City on December 31st, I asked the clerk at the front desk if a manager or assistant manager was there. I told her I had a problem that I needed to discuss with management. She told me to call on Tuesday, January 3rd. I called on Wednesday, January 4th and spoke with Dan and told him I had fell getting out of the van at the airport. He then asked me details and told me Jeremy Chase would call me. I spoke with him Friday, January 6th at 10:50 am. He told me that he is very sorry the incident happened and assured me that Comfort Inn shuttle provides a safe service to their customers. I then told him about the accident. He told me the driver was new and that they were going to have to speak to him about how things are done. After our conservation about the accident, he offered to drive us to the airport during any future stays at the Comfort Inn Airport. I told him, we have done a lot of traveling this past year and I do not know of any future travel plans. I also told him, I was thinking about going to the doctor because my hand hurts everytime I move it and it is swollen. He told me, he can't tell me what to do at this point. I am very surprised that he didn't offer anything else or to tell me to go to the doctor because Comfort Inn was concerned about me. I am writing you this letter because I believe that Jeremy Chase’s attitude is not the way you want customer to feel about Comport Inn’s.Standard procedure for businesses when a person falls in my case, the driver of the shuttle should have reported it immediately then the business would call the customer and talk to them about the accident. None of this was done by the Comfort Inn Airport and/or anyone else that represents the Comfort Inn. Jeremy Chase did not show any concern for customer when I spoke with him on Friday, January 6, 2011. At the present time, I still cannot lay on my left side because my hip and side hurts and my left hand still is swollen and aches all day and night.
Thursday, October 13, 2011 by Bea Rice, Ashland, KY
Mr. Haase, having stayed at Clarion in Pigeon Forge, TN several times, I assumed all Clarion hotels had the same standards. I was sadly mistaken. From the dirty towels in the bathroom to the "hot breakfast" with offered make your own waffles but no syrup, the Clarion near Kings Island, Ohio, was a pitiful excuse for a hotel I recommended we book for our stay. There was no bedding for the sofa bed, which I had to go to the desk for, twice, since they only gave me one sheet the first trip and never did provide me with a blanket. I discovered there were 2 towels, one was dirty, so back to the desk again. The morning breakfast was laughable... no syrup for waffles, no milk for cereal, they did "find" some orange juice and filled the machine. The round "breakfast meat" was served cold! They did not even light the burner under the tray to warm it until several patrons complained. This was on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. I could not and will not recommend Clarion hotels again and am embarrassed that I am the one who advised my friends to choose that hotel over another they were going to book at. Sad part? Upon checking out, the person at the desk never asked how our stay was. He took the credit card and said thanks. We had to ask for a receipt!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 by Laura Dhirani
I just received a survey from Choice Hotels, filled it out and just had to laugh at the very last bit of info requested. I was requested to make any "comments" but was restricted to only 256 characters. Evidently you don't want much comment. The hotel itself was not so bad, but it definitely doesn't rate the price. The accommodations were more of what I would expect from a Super 8. I have previously stayed in Choice Hotels, though it HAS been a while and they used to be fairly nice. When I saw the price of this one I figured it should be "quite" nice. The pics on line made the room appear MUCH larger than it was (I got the King Deluxe Suite). I almost stayed in the Holiday Inn (Galveston) just down the street and now wish I had. It just wasn't up to the standard that I believe you should set...have you stayed there lately YOURSELF? (Comfort Inn & Suites Galveston) Perhaps you should make an impromtu visit, without them knowing who you are and see for yourself...undercover boss style :). I love a good sunrise, but when I am on vacation I like to sleep in a bit, but with the door to the balcony only having mini blinds, I was up with the sun...and, while I think the sheets were clean, the first night they had holes in them...just not the quality I had expected from the price. Thought you might like to know, and if you care, you will investigate. If you don't care, then the business will go downhill. I am very customer oriented so I would want to know these things.