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Cobblestone Cobbling Together Amazing Growth

The fast rising brand held its annual conference. Here’s what happened.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
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Cobblestone Hotels hosted is 3rd Annual brand conference last week in Minneapolis and during the event executives at the fast growing hotel company signed another half dozen deals. With 39 properties already open the company is expanding so fast, it’s at about twice the rate the company expected.

Not including the deals signed last week, the company has 14 hotels under construction and astounding 45 more in the pipeline. It’s truly turned in to a story of the little company that could; and shows there is still room for companies out there that have a hyper focus on something specific.

In this case its smaller hotels for smaller markets, a move some major franchising companies have tried to enter but have not seen success at this magnitude. Cobblestone executives are focusing on smaller towns and right sized hotels for specific markets and created an upper midscale product with hotels that are typically 50 rooms or less. Even its President is surprised at the success they’ve had. The company also has a conversion brand, Boarders Inn and Suites by Cobblestone Brand

“It is exciting,” said Brian Wogernese, Co-Founder and Brand President in an interview with Hotel Interactive®. “I feel pretty good as far as our growth strategy that we can handle what we are bringing on. It is double what we expected this year, which we thought would be about 20.”

The event, held April 6 and 7 attracted 220 people, about half of which are potential franchisees attending to learn more about the company and its owner centric strategy.

Wogernese is extremely hands on and said it’s critical to have a personal touch with every potential franchisee. “Our focus is more so on the franchisee and the owners that work with us and we hope continue to work with us. I am very personal on every deal and meet the owners and share their experience,” said Wogernese.

The Cobblestone Hotels 2014 Brand Conference featured brand meetings to discuss brand initiatives, a keynote from Brian Wogernese, Co-Founder and Brand President, Brand Training/Operations Panels, Brand Development Panels a Brand Executive Q and A and the 2013 Brand Awards Dinner including General Managers, Management Companies, Vendors, Investors, and Brand Representatives.

Cobblestone Hotels kicked off their 2014 Conference with separate brand sessions on the afternoon of April 6th. The first with a focus on the brand’s conversion product, Boarders Inn and Suites by Cobblestone Hotels. The second focused on the brand’s new build products, Cobblestone Hotel and Suites and Cobblestone Inn and Suites. Both meetings highlighted brand updates, brand sales and marketing initiatives, and the growth of each product.

“When Cobblestone Hotels looks at brand initiatives we focus on the largest impact to our guest experience and our franchisee’s revenue” said Jessica Junker, Vice President of Sales and Marketing/CIO of Cobblestone Hotels. “This year we launched a refreshed website, an amplified internet marketing campaign, and a more transparent guest booking experience.” In addition to these initiatives Cobblestone Hotels discussed brand updates with its franchisees.

“Guest Experience is key”, said Josie Kilgore, Vice President of Brand Services. “We took a look at industry standards and requested that our franchisees update linen, some interior signage, television quality, and discussed our extremely high Guest Experience Scores.” Franchisees of Cobblestone Hotels were excited for the Marketing Initiatives as well as the Brand’s Update requests. All attendees joined the Cobblestone Hotels Team at “The Local” for the Welcome Reception.

On day two Wogernese reflected on where he started, where the brand started, where the brand is now and where the brand is going. “Our focus this year is to show our gratitude to all of our partners,” said Wogernese. “Whether you are a hotel developer, management company, owner, general manager, or on property support, we are thankful each day for you and the great attributes you bring to our team. “Your Story. Your Time. Your Future.” is more than our 2014 conference theme. It symbolizes our thought process in each decision we make for the brand. It is all about, and for you.”

To wrap up his address, Wogernese unveiled the award for the 2014 Property of the year that will be announced at the brand’s 2015 Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The recipient of the 2014 Property of the year will be awarded a new Harley Davidson to donate to the charity of their choice.

Attendees also got to ask questions of Brand Representatives, Brian Wogernese, Josie Kilgore, and Jessica Junker in a Cocktail Q&A Session. Attendees asked questions about the brand’s growth, the brand’s technology advancements and industry information.

The 2014 Cobblestone Hotels Brand Conference concluded with a special recognition to their newest franchisees. In March Cobblestone Hotels announced that it would donate $10,000 for each Franchise Agreement signed, at the conference, back to a community charity of the franchisee’s choice.

During the 2014 Cobblestone Hotels Conference, Cobblestone Representatives brought on six new franchise agreements. “We could not be happier with the response of our “Giving Back Initiative”,” said Wogernese. “Donating $60,000 to charities throughout the country, in communities that have embraced Cobblestone Hotels is exactly the sort of things that Cobblestone is proud to be a part of and we look forward to doing more initiatives in the future.”

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