On 'Undercover Boss,' Choice Hotels CEO Stephen P. Joyce Makes His Bed

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On Sunday, Undercover Boss starts its second season with a glimpse under the sheets at Choice Hotels (CHH), one of the largest hospitality conglomerates in the world. Featuring president and CEO Stephen P. Joyce (pictured), the episode will show the tougher side of the hotel business, as Joyce scrubs a pool, makes beds and straightens up a few of the company's estimated 490,000 rooms.

Last season, Undercover Boss was the most popular new series on TV, with an average 17.7 million viewers per week. Yet for all its success, the show quickly fell into a rut, as many of its episodes featured the same set pieces: at some point in the show, the CEO would cry as he learned about the personal problems of some of his workers. Later, after revealing himself to the hard-luck employee, the CEO would -- like a gray-suited fairy godmother -- fix all the worker's problems and offer him or her an amazing opportunity to move ahead in the organization.



This episode could be a little different. Unlike many hotel chains -- and most of the companies that are featured on Undercover Boss -- Choice doesn't actually own the hotels in its chains. As a franchising company, it works with hotel owners and collects royalty fees for the use of its names, but the corporation doesn't have direct control over its 6,000 hotels in 35 countries. In other words, when Joyce finds out that some of his workers are suffering from crushing personal problems or trying to deal with unreasonable supervisors, his hands may well be tied.

Bad Timing, Quick Turnaround

Joyce has spent his entire career in the hospitality business: He went to work in Marriott's internal auditing department shortly after graduating from the University of Virginia. Over the next 25 years, he progressed through the Marriott ranks, ultimately rising to become one of the company's executive vice presidents and the point man for its growing franchise program. In May 2008, he jumped ship to become president and chief operating officer at Choice Hotels. A month after coming to the company, he was named CEO.

In some ways, Joyce couldn't have been hired at a worse time. A month after he started at Choice, the company's stock dropped by 35%, as sales tanked in the hospitality industry. Over the last two years, however, Choice's fortunes have improved. Today, the company's stock is close to its prerecession numbers. According to the company website, this rally is Joyce's doing, as the Choice rewards program lured cash-strapped vacationers into the company's hotels.

Regardless of whether or not Joyce is responsible for Choice's improvements, he has certainly been well compensated for his work. While his $3.5 million pay package is modest by Wall Street standards, it's stunning compared to average salaries at his company. It'll be interesting to see Joyce take orders from a hotel general manager who makes just over 1% of the CEO's annual paycheck, much less a front-desk attendant who makes $8.35 per hour, which works out to 0.4% of the undercover CEO's take-home pay.

Undercover Boss will air on Sunday night at 10 PM, Eastern time.




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September 28 2010 at 10:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
daveswrath0704

think will never get better for the poor (there no middle class) as long as people at the top think they need million to live on and there greed win out they forget if it not for the poor working they would not be rich Fact they need use we dont need them we know how to do without they cant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 27 2010 at 9:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
traviscapt2001

Im not too sure these shows were real.

September 26 2010 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry

I would sell my soul to have the CEO of Home Depot drop in at the Elk River, MN store! The morale is so low, the employees actually cry! The abuse of employees by the store manager and some of his posse (asst. mgrs., HR people) is a crime. Their flagrant abuse of "Mark this down" on high end items for themselves has been ongoing. Yet, if it is not done, you will be gone! I have yrs. of documentation, but the upper brass comes in and then "Store manager" acts likes he's your best friend when he verbally abused you 2 hrs. earlier! This guy is so disgusting and every person (other than his hand picked posse) will vouch for it. Unfortunately, everyone is afraid for their job in this economy! So do a HOME DEPOT UNDERCOVER! Bet it would never be aired!

September 26 2010 at 10:56 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
cyrosie

We have just returned from a trip spending close to 3 weeks on the road. By far, our best stays have been in a Comfort Inn motel. The rooms were spacious, well appointed, with most of the hotels offering HD TV and a dizzying amount of channels. Front desk employees were friendly and helpful. By comparison, we stayed in another chain hotel and had beds where you can feel the frame of the mattress. If this enjoyment is due to the CEO, congratulations to him, I am a convert.

September 26 2010 at 10:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wilkesgm

Let me guess about this episode. The guy finds out that his grunt workers work harder than the thought and he's not capable of working at their levels or speed and accuracy. Some of them are losers, just there for the wage. Some of them have great work ethics and impress him. One or two have sob stories. One or two are really qualified to do much better than the low-rung they are on. Then the reveal. The employees are "shocked" that they have been flown by private jet or limo to the headquarters. They find out that "Bill" or "Randy" is actually the big boss. Some are rewarded, some are embarassed. Boring. Formulaic to the point of snoring.

September 26 2010 at 8:39 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Hi Gram, Ty&Dill

Unfortunately, most buisiness owners don't give 2 sh*ts about thier employees, moreso in small buisiness. Worked for a small one for 20 yrs, ruined my back from them working me to death, paid me a wage just above poverty level ,took benefits away. Once i got to the point i couldn't walk very well they laid me off to avoid workmans comp claim.As my family barely survived, they became millionaires.And don't say there are other jobs, I have a very specialized talent, not useable at too many places. Otherwise, it's flipping burgers and making even less.

September 26 2010 at 1:24 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
choiceowners

You have to be kidding me! All of these Choice Hotel Owners are being destroyed by Franchise fees! These guys have added proactive Matching that has single handedly stripped hotel owners of their properties! I love that they will have the CEO on tv to act like everything is well. For the truth on these crooks look at: www.ChoiceOwners.com

September 26 2010 at 11:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
meichelev

I guarantee you he needs to come to MY hotel to work for a day...we are in the Choice Chain....I have the boss from hell!!

September 26 2010 at 11:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sgentilejr

Any CEO or Corporate executive who is willing to roll up his sleeves, sweat and get their hands dirty and do the same work their employees do is a good guy___even if this is all scripted and all their employees know exactly what is going on. As a worker myself_____I would be pleased to work for any such boss.

September 26 2010 at 11:14 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply