Vice President, Emerging Markets & New Business Development • Choice Hotels International Inc. • Silver Spring, Md. • Age: 33
For Brian Parker, diversity in the hospitality industry is more than a requirement — it’s the right thing to do. The highest-ranking African-American executive at Choice Hotels International Inc., Parker says establishing and maintaining a multichromatic team — from employees to franchisees to vendors — is indeed a prerequisite for both personal and professional success. “The needle has moved a great deal from a handful of minority-owned hotels five years ago to hundreds today,” he says. “Choice Hotels is leading the way in this effort.” Parker is Choice Hotel’s vice president of Emerging Markets and New Business Development. He joined the company in 1998 and is credited with creating two divisions within the organization: Sports Marketing and Emerging Markets. The number of Choice’s African-American- and Hispanic-owned franchises increased exponentially under Parker’s leadership. “The major hotel brands are spending tremendous amounts of time and money recruiting and educating minority entrepreneurs about the benefits of hotel ownership,” he says.
Parker, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from Delaware State University, is quick to dismiss the notion that minorities are disinterested and unable to build successful careers in the hospitality industry. He notes that his youthfulness and aggressive ambitions have been more of an issue than his race. “Regardless of people’s perceptions of me or the industry, I stay focused on consistently delivering exceptional results,” he says.
As for the future, Parker is diligently working on expanding Choice Hotels’ presence in the Caribbean and on continuing to diversify the lodging industry. “The hospitality industry offers many career path opportunities,” he says. “I advise young people interested in the business to read and learn as much as they can about the industry.”