Member of the Board of Advisors
Former CEO, Choice Hotels
Charles A. Ledsinger, Jr., is the Chairman of Sunburst Hospitality Corporation, a private owner/ operator of hotels and real estate nationwide and Chairman of Realty Investment Company, Inc., a private operating and investment company. Mr. Ledsinger is the former vice chairman of Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH), one of the world’s largest hotel franchisors. He now serves as an advisor to Choice Hotels. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Mr. Ledsinger has a proven track record in the lodging industry, as well as building and leading strong, profitable businesses and successfully expanding the reach of some of the best-known hotel brands.
Mr. Ledsinger served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Choice from 1998 until 2008. In 2006, he was elected vice chairman. Under his leadership, Choice established a business model for growth, profitability and sustainability-with a focus on a franchise success system that is second to none. This business model has enabled Choice to expand its brand presence in the US and internationally, maximize value for hotel owners, and become one of the best performing lodging companies in the world.
The franchising strategy that Mr. Ledsinger developed for Choice is highly regarded as one of the most successful in the industry. Guided by his vision to deliver the highest return on investment of any hotel franchise, Mr. Ledsinger has successfully launched a number of initiatives to reach more consumers, build strong brands, deliver exceptional services, and leverage Choice’s size, scale and distribution in order to deliver more business to its hotels while lowering their costs.
These initiatives include an extensive marketing and reservations program, which has significantly increased brand awareness and guest delivery; the successful re-imaging of the company’s brands, which has resulted in improved brand consistency, quality and guest satisfaction ratings; a performance-driven and record-breaking franchise sales strategy; a nationwide system of hands-on, field-based brand performance support; and state-of-the-art award-winning training capabilities. In addition, Mr. Ledsinger led the company’s launch of new brands and the expansion into new lodging segments, including select-service upscale and extended stay.
Mr. Ledsinger’s career includes nearly 20 years at Promus (now Hilton) and its predecessor companies. From 1988 to 1990, Ledsinger served as treasurer of Promus and in 1990 was named senior vice president and chief financial officer. In 1995, after managing the successful separation of Harrah’s and Promus in a spin-off to create two publicly traded companies, he was named senior vice president and chief financial officer of Harrah’s Entertainment (NYSE: HET). Immediately prior to joining Choice, Ledsinger was president and chief operating officer at St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE), Florida’s largest private landowner and developer of master-planned communities, resorts, and commercial and industrial facilities.
A highly regarded lodging industry veteran, Mr. Ledsinger was named the industry’s top performing chief executive officer for 2001 by HVS Executive Search (a division of the global hotel consulting firm HVS International). The award honors the CEO who offers the best value to shareholders on a pay-for-performance model. In June 2005, he was honored with the prestigious Stephen Brener Silver Plate Award, presented by Lodging Hospitality magazine for his work to serve and promote the hospitality industry.
Mr. Ledsinger currently serves on the boards of Darden Restaurants, Inc., and FelCor Lodging Trust Incorporated. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the board of trustees of the University of Richmond. He serves on The Commonweal Foundation board, an organization which supports educational programs and projects assisting disadvantaged youth. He is also a Trustee of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, partnership dedicated to raising historical awareness of the area from Gettysburg to Monticello. He is a past Co-Chairman of the Industry Real Estate Financing Advisory Council (IREFAC) of American Hotel and Lodging Association. He is a former Trustee of the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland; served as an Executive Board member of the Chickasaw Council of The Boy Scouts of America, a former trustee at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, in Memphis, TN and a former member of the board of the Memphis Development Foundation (Orpheum Theatre). Mr. Ledsinger earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Memphis.