Steve Joyce, CEO of Choice Hotels featured on “Undercover Boss”


Undercover Boss is one of my favorite TV shows; I don’t usually waste a lot of time in front of the TV so it takes something really good to spark an interest for me. This week’s episode was of particular interest because the show involved Steve Joyce, CEO of Choice Hotels.  Comfort Inns fall under the Choice Hotels brand umbrella.

The guest experience at a hotel is a sum total of all of the individual parts of the hotel working together and working well. Friendly people at the front desk, immaculately clean guest rooms and grounds, a well maintained building, good food, the list goes on and on. We are expected to be area experts and be able to make recommendations for even the strangest things at the drop of a hat.  The hospitality business has to be in your blood to be able to wake up every day and do it. It is a fun job with a new challenge everyday but you won’t get rich doing it especially on the line level.

It’s always nice to see the big head honcho step down from the “Ivory Office Building” and into the trenches on the property level.  It can seem easy to designate policy and procedure from afar, but sometimes it just logistically does not work or is inefficient.

Choice Hotels is a purely franchised hotel company meaning they don’t actually own any of the hotels. They oversee 6,000 hotels throughout the world.  The show begins with Steve (Jack) making a visit to the largest hotel in the Choice System, an Econo Lodge with 672 rooms.  He is paired up with Ricardo, the Maintenance Engineer and spends the day arranging pool furniture and washing the pool tiles in 98 degree heat. They also had the pleasure of unclogging a stopped up toilet and walking from need to need in a very large hotel. Steve (Jack) is not happy with the overall condition of the hotel and wants it to be improved to be a flagship of the brand that it used to be.

The next day Steve (Jack) moves on to the Comfort Suites and prepares to work the day in Housekeeping with Christina.  Housekeepers are typically on the lowest pay scale and Steve (Jack) gets to experience firsthand


just how hard a housekeeper has to work. All within 27 minutes he had to strip and re-make two beds, vacuum, clean the bathroom including shower, toilet and sink. Christina is an outstanding Housekeeping Manager and aspires to be a GM and all she had to say was that Jack needed to go to “housekeeping boot camp”.

For his day in the sales department Steve heads over to the Cambria Suites, one of the newest brands in the hotel system.  He meets up with John, a brand new DOS with a lot of energy and an eye for a good suit. Steve (Jack) makes some cold calls over the phone and went out on client calls with John. He gets to see how well received John and that particular hotel are.

On the way to the final hotel John overnights in a Suburban Inn because there have been brand complaints and he wants to experience a stay to assess the issues.  He is astounded to find that he must purchase coffee at the front desk and notes that he would be angry in the morning if there was none in the room.

The final stop for Steve (Jack) is at another Comfort Suites where he works a shift at the Front Desk with Brandalyn. They count the drawer, do security rounds, some light cleaning, take care of the guest needs, answer the phone etc. He gets to learn a lot about Brandalyn who very much wants to be a front desk manager and has worked very hard for everything she has in life.

In the end, Steve Joyce introduces himself to all of the folks he interacted with during his time in their respective hotels.  He wants them all to feel appreciated and bring about the changes they had discussed in their brief meetings. For Ricardo at the Econo Lodge, he purchases a golf cart to make it easier for him to be more efficient and awards an undisclosed amount of money in a scholarship for Ricardo’s son who is attending medical school. He also brought the General Manager in to tell him know his expectations on the upkeep on the hotel. For Christina, he will be footing the bill for her GM Training class and provided tickets to the amusements parks in Orlando.

John is given $5,000 for a new wardrobe to wear to his new job in the Global Sales Department of Choice Hotels. The Suburban brand standards state that coffee must be available to the guests, not that it is free. Steve meets with his Executive team and they will work to get that changed. Finally for Brandalyn, he sends her for a week’s vacation in San Antonio and pays her rent for the next six months so she can get a home of her own. He also recommends to her management that she be shown Choice University and takes the Front Office Manager classes.

Watch the full episode here

What did you think of this Undercover Boss episode? What challenges do you face in your place of employment? I think most people really feed off of appreciation for the hard work they put in. What kind of incentives does your company have for a job well done? We’re always looking for fresh ideas and would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave them in the comments below.


30 thoughts on “Steve Joyce, CEO of Choice Hotels featured on “Undercover Boss”

  1. What is Steve Joyce’s office address. I would like to send him a very interesting response to, not only his appearance on “Undercover Boss”, but the experience my wife and I had at a Comfort Inn in Plover, WI.

      • Hello,

        I hope you can help. I worked at the Main Stay suites in Ingleside, Texas and I hope you can relay this message to Mr. Joice. I moved down here in little Ingleside in 2010, times were rough and I needed help. Main Stay was my first job here and due to unfortunate events I was forced to leave my job. These unfortunate events occured there in Main Stay Suites. My manager Jay Thakkar sexually assualted me, when I reported this incident to Mr. Arkesh Tripathy (Property owner) all he told me was “Just make a police report and stay away from him as much as you can. I will have a long talk with Mr. Jay” Absolutely nothing was done by police nor my Mr.Tripathy and I was affraid another incident would occur so I ended up leaving.

        Shortly two months later I was hired on by citgo. I found out by 5 other people that I worked with that had previously worked there had also filed complaints and reports of Mr. Thakkar innapropriatly touching them as well. Again nothing was done about these occurances. Not only those 5 people but I found 3 more who had worked there quit due to Mr. Thakkar’s innapropriate behavior. Also my w-2’s were not sent to me on time for taxes so I had to face Mr. Thakkar at Main Stay to recieve them. It was unbelievely uncomfortable for me just having to go there.

        There is more to this that I would like to share with Mr. Joice in great detail. So if you could please have him contact me via by email or by phone that would be greatly appreciated. My name is Tara Clark. Thank you for your time.

        Phone: (361) 238- 3487

      • I would be thankful Barbara if you could get this information to CEO STEVE JOYCE

        I am a professional songwriter with many #1 songs worldwide. I have been blessed with a lot of success & many awards. I would like to send to CEO of Choice Hotels Mr. Steve Joyce some CD’s, I have written songs for Cracker Barrel Restaurants, USA past Secretary of State Collin Powell fo help his organization for children ” AMERICA’S PROMISE”- in East Tennessee’”- , “SIDS” (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) , and blessed to have written many others. I have received many awards for songwriting, and just received my 57th Songwriter of the Year, by a major Country chart. I would be grateful to either send songs by mail, or MPS’s by email. Need Mr. Joyces email address.
        My desire is to write a top song for Choice Hotels. Watching the TV program Undercover Boss, I was thrilled to see the commitment Mr. Joyce has for staff, and desire to do things to make Choice Hotels the best it can be. Respectfully
        Mrs. Rhonnie Scheuerman

  2. Now if I could only get him to give his customer service department a kick start. I’m still waiting after 6 weeks for a credit on an overbilled night’s stay back in Sept. The first rep I spoke to resolved the problem, which was a changed reservation for which I was billed twice, but the “investigation department” needs some attention.

    • Hi Dave, I’m not sure if you are dealing with the hotel itself or Choice Hotels, but to offer some assistance you can try calling Guest Relations at 1-800-300-8800 and they may be able to assist you. I hope this helps. Kind Regards, Barb

      • Barb, thanks for the reply. I have been dealing with customer service at the number you posted. All I get is the same run-around, even if I ask to speak with a manager. They keep telling me that it’s still under investigation. This should have been an easy one because the first gentleman I spoke to figured out exactly what had happened, and made notes accordingly.

  3. Hello Mr Joyce ,
    My name is Wendy Lesoa sometimes I wish their were good Bosses like you here in New Zealand, Auckland sometimes I try my hardest to get a job here but companys don’t give myself a chance to give it a go, They always hired people that has that perfect qualifications which is so unfaired. When my Family and I saw that undercovered Boss it just brought tears to my eyes. Well all the best to you and your family .

    God Bless and Take Care

    • seriously wendy get real, it was all BS for the cameras they went to perfect little hotels and had made up MINOR problems. If you would have noticed that no real issues were solved or even brought up. I mean did anyone mention that the system the choice makes us use is almost a decade old and yet we are not allowed to upgrade our computers because they have to be chaoice approved and choice approved means it more than doubles the price. Trust me Wendy this whole thing was all made up for the tv audience

  4. Maybe this guy should have went to a real hotel and not one that the undercover boss crew has set up perfectly for him. How about mine, I have been working for a choice hotel for 6 months now and it is the worst company I have ever worked for. First, let us start with the fact that they make every hotel buy from “their” special vendors so that they can get kickbacks from those companies. We need to get new TV’s here at the hotel and instead of going to the local wal-mart and getting a bunch of 32inch HDTV’s for about $200-$300 we have to go thru a “choice approved company” to get them making them $800-1000 a TV. Little things like if we need a pillow instead of going to the local store and getting a nice pillow for about $2-$3 we have to get special choice pillows for $10. Now in their latest brilliant move they have decided it is best for each choice hotel to switch from the USA Today Newspaper to the Wall Street Journal. Now whether or not they knew that the Wall Street Journal is not big enough paper to deliver everywhere like the USA Today or like everything else, they do not give a shit as long as the CEO gets his kickback from the Wall Street Journal. I could go on and on for hours about the little and big terrible business decisions made by Choice Hotels but maybe I will save that for a book. When I say these things I am not exaggerating at all these are actual things done by choice. Lastly, I will leave you with one that I think is one of the worst. Choice splashes across your TV about this summer time promo “Stay 2 nights get one free” but what they don’t tell you is that this is just a con to get people to call them and make their reservation thru them because they receive 5% of the room rent on reservations that they make thru their CRS (Central Reservation System) and your so called free night well if you look at the fine print they give you 8,000 points towards a free night and if you can find an 8,000 point hotel that isn’t a rat hole well congrats. My hotel I work for is a basic normal hotel and it takes 16,000 points to stay for free. They also like to encourage every employee to sign people up for choice rewards even without their knowledge (have you ever got a choice rewards card in the mail and don’t remember signing up for it) because whenever a person stays at a hotel that is a choice rewards member the hotel itself pays for those points because we have to give yet another portion of the room revenue to choice. So if a person has choice privileges and makes their reservation through CRS it is a double whammy against the local hotel and a jackpot for the SHADY CHOICE HOTEL CORPORATION

  5. I stayed at the Comfort Inn in Kingsland, Ga on May 4, 2012. If the undercover boss ever stayed at this hotel he would set it on fire. That’s how bad the rooms are. They are in desperate need of a COMPLETE CLEANING and upgrade. The room smelled. The furniture was gross. The bedspread was dirty. The bathroom sink and tub did not drain well. There was mildew on the tub. I will not staying at a Comfort in in the near future!

  6. My wife was injured at the Quality Inn in Lebanon Pa. in Sept. 2011 and needed major surgery and despite two letters, one was signed for, we still haven’t heard from them regarding our ins. co pays. When I signed out they were sooo concerned and said an accident report would be mailed but it wasn’t. E mails to Choice Hotels hasn’t been any help either. “They’re a franchise” But I bet if a room wasn’t right for some big shot they’d be all over the hotel but regular customers who get hurt don’t matter. A certified letter was sent to Choice and that hasn’t been responded to either.

  7. My wife and I thought Comfort Inn suites was the way to go when traveling, the rooms are pretty clean, could have been better. The people we met were friendly but somewhat short, trying to do to many things at once.
    Case in point; trying to check in, the phone rang the clerk answered it leaving us standing there looking silly and tired, explaining check in,procedures to a potential customer.
    Afterwards it rang again and I abruptly said NO do not answerer that or were walking out..

    However, the financial management is a joke.
    Never again, somehow (without permission) we were put on the rewards program. We did not want it…….
    Tried for four month’s to stop the billing… called the 800 526 4848 several times.

    Steve Joyce, CEO of Choice Hotels; your company leaves allot to be desired.
    If your that great, fix the problem and refund me my 15.99 X 5

  8. I just got done watching undercover boss with Steve Joyce. I have to say, it was so awesome to see a CEO go and not only see first hand how hard his employees work, but to take the time and really listen to what they had to say about improvements, because they are the ones who know best since they work in that position at all times. I work in the customer service industry and I wish someone would take the time to listen to us.
    So many times I feel that the bosses don’t take the time and remember what it was like to work in the trenches, if they ever had in the past. They come up these things they want their employees to implement and it may work on paper, but because they really don’t know every detail of the position they don’t know how it may be not the best way.
    I just wanted Steve to know that I’m glad for CEO out there that gets it. From all of us customer service workers, we are glad to see we are heard and that you appreciate hard workers, and caring workers, and for some companies upper management sometimes holds people back from moving on or moving up, and I hope one day my CEO might do the same.
    Thank you
    Barbara Moore
    Deptford, NJ

  9. I am a professional songwriter with many #1 songs worldwide. I have been blessed with a lot of success & many awards. I would like to send to CEO of Choice Hotels Mr. Steve Joyce some CD’s, I have written songs for Cracker Barrel Restaurants, USA past Secretary of State Collin Powell fo help his organization for children ” AMERICA’S PROMISE”- in East Tennessee'”- , “SIDS” (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) , and blessed to have written many others. I have received many awards for songwriting, and just received my 57th Songwriter of the Year, by a major Country chart. I would be grateful to either send songs by mail, or MPS’s by email. Need Mr. Joyces email address.
    My desire is to write a top song for Choice Hotels. Watching the TV program Undercover Boss, I was thrilled to see the commitment Mr. Joyce has for staff, and desire to do things to make Choice Hotels the best it can be. Respectfully
    Mrs. Rhonnie Scheuerman

    • please take my comments off this board, never got reply, but received many emails from folks that stayed at your hotels, and they were not kind. Rhonnie

  10. for Barb Youchah

    I enjoyed your article today. Beautifully written ! I have left 2 messages on this board hoping you would answer them.
    (Mrs) Rhonnie Scheuerman

  11. My husband and I generally stay at Marriot but on a recent trip we chose to give the Comfort Inn in CHESTER, VA a try. The next day we realized we had left the charger for our laptop in the room so we called spoke to JASON who said he would put in a claim and call us back the following day. We did not hear from him so called and spoke with TIA who told us there was no claim and she would put one in and call us back the following day. Again, we did not hear from her. We are now travelling with an unusable laptop! We again called the hotel on 2/3 and 2/4 leaving a message for manager WILBUR FOREZ (sp?) asking him to return my call. You guessed it- NO RETURN CALL. The front desk people did not look in the room and let us know about our charger or at least perform the most basic customer service duties and return a phone call. Very disappointed and will not use Comfort Inn again!!!! We will also share our bad experience with friends and family so they do not have to go through a frustrating experience.

  12. I book 7 weeks in advance and ask for a specific room, top floor, always- nice not hearing kids running or people jogging etc… was told they couldn’t do that because if someone else is in their they can’t kick them out. Well, then don’t book them in that room! I did the 20% off pay in advance and I should get the room I requested. You have other rooms for people who book AFTER me and PAY after me. If I pre-paid in full, I should get exactly what I ask for. I run a tourist resort and if someone books and pays in advance, they get what they asked for, everyone else gets booked around that reservation. HONOR the pre-pay request!

  13. I booked a 2 night stay at a Quality Inn in California through When I called the location itself, they gave me a better rate through the military and told me theres nothing they can do for me. I called the 1800 as instructed per “dissatisfaction with service” and the customer service reps were unprofessional and incompetent. I canceled my reservation and tried to book through Quality Inn directly and right when I was about to give the information, the front desk rep told me their systems have been shut down for the rollover of a new day. It’s 2015, how does this even happen? More-so, he should have told me prior to the 15 minutes I had asking about rates and availability. He assured me when I called back later in the day the rates would remain the same. I asked if the phone calls were recorded for proof, he said no. Oh great, so I called back later in the day and spoke with a supposed manager on staff named “Nareh” and he gave me a different price. I explained the situation and he did nothing to remedy the situation. He in fact told me if I didn’t like the price he was giving me, I can go somewhere else.

    It is absolutely ridiculous that the communication factor from one vendor to your own does not connect. What’s even worse is the lack of customer service provided by your brand. This is how Quality Inn treats their potential guests. It is no wonder the guest reviews are horrid for your chains. This would have been my second time staying at a Choices hotel, but rest assured…I will NEVER give my business to such a horrible company with low morales. It’s a shame that through years of business, the biggest part of your brand which is customer satisfaction, is what you’re lacking most.

  14. I am a guest tonight at your comfort suites inn and I need to say it needs to be checked upon by CEO. Potato chips in the floor by the elevator, I had to change rooms because the bathroom fan was obnoxiously loud, hair in the bath tub. Also, I had to ATM money to pay for vending items instead of charging to my room which was huge inconvenience to me. I am respeat customer of your company and I am in hopes of a great company with you. Please contact me at 251-367-2237. Thank you, Joyce Fountain

  15. How do I get ahold of this CEO?
    My college age son was verbally attacked and physically endangered by an employee when he could not find his car keys. The employee kicked him off the property at 2AM saying that he did not have time to help him. All the while his car keys were sitting in the front desk.Someone had found them and turned them in He was left outside in the middle of Sacramento with all of his luggage and nowhere to go when all he wanted to do was to drive home to Redding. When we called the CEO she failed to see the problem and refused to take ownership but mearly apologized for the “inconvenience”. Our son was NOT inconvenienced, he was attacked by the employee. My husband asked, “who do you report to?” She said, “myself”!!!
    Sacramento CA. At Econolodge

  16. Please contact me put a complaint about Clarion hotel n Orlando. Manager promise 2 take care of it he lied. Put a complaint n with Choice management everybody keep lieing.

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