Hotel Executives Focused on Supply Chain, Culture

Refinement, longevity and happiness are the name of the game in 2022 for third-party boutique management companies such as Charlestowne Hotels, according to CEO Kyle Hughey and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Cady.

Conversion Versus New Construction a Topic of Debate At Hunter Conference

ATLANTA — Supply-chain issues were among the most discussed topics on the second day of the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference.

The effects on construction, funding and guest experience were discussed during the “Brands Tipping the Scale” panel. Noah Silverman, Marriott International global development officer, U.S. and Canada, said the overall quality of hotels may dip due to companies cutting back on capital expenditures, but it creates opportunities for those who can afford to build or renovate.

2022 Hunter Hotel Investment Conference

Also, during the “Leading With Purpose” panel, some executives spoke on how their companies’ cultures have evolved over the past few years. Michael Deitemeyer, Aimbridge Hospitality president and CEO, said employees will see past a hollow mission statement on a website these days. Companies have to be genuine and align their actions with their words.

“There was an awakening; in our world today, there aren’t secrets. It’s great that everybody’s got something on their website but is the organization living it?” Deitemeyer said.

Data Point of the Day

Prior to the spread of the omicron variant, group demand has been rising every month since June, and it’s advancing again, according to data from CoStar’s hospitality analytics firm STR. In the week ending March 12, group demand reached a pandemic-era high, with luxury and upper-upscale hotels selling 1.6 million rooms in the week.

Quotes of the Day

“If you have a robust [customer relationship management] system, you can truly understand patterns of people. If you don’t have a data warehouse or a CRM, then you’re behind.”

— Michael Cady, chief marketing officer, Charlestowne Hotels, on going beyond guest reviews in looking at marketing data.

Getting supplies “has been a pain in the neck. Everything is unpredictable. Whether it’s getting supplies in for renovations, or shipping costs for materials going up. On the property level, you have to adjust what you’re providing. Everyone is having this problem, and brands have standards, but if you can’t get a coffee cup, you’re struggling to serve coffee at the end of the day. But this is where the strength of good management companies has really made a difference.”

— Steven Nicholas, principal and executive vice president, Noble Investment Group, on a panel about asset management and addressing supply chain issues.

Editors’ Takeaways

At the “Brands Tipping the Scale” panel, Jim Tierney, Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s senior vice president of development and owner relations, said that despite construction taking longer, his company’s pipeline is primarily growing via new construction. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Chip Ohlsson said the company believes now is the time to focus on new construction despite rising costs in development.

“The importance of our brand is really paramount right now because construction starts are tough, procurement is tough. We’ve been working with a couple of different companies, and we flat out said, ‘We don’t care about the costs right now. We care [if] can you deliver on that cost.’” Ohlsson said.

Marriott International Global Development Officer Noah Silverman said a robust conversion market has been a focus and will continue to be for the company. He agreed lending and costs remain hurdles for construction projects.

“I’m absolutely a believer that you can go against the grain a bit, but it takes some good fortune and stars aligning to be able to make that happen in a way that delivers those returns at the end of the day,” Silverman said.
— Trevor Simpson, associate editor

It was an honor to moderate a panel at the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference this year on leadership. Pre-pandemic, it’s not something most conference organizers would give much thought to, but I have noticed people are so much more interested now in learning how truly effective leaders make change within their organizations.

The big takeaway from the conversation I had with Aimbridge Hospitality’s Mike Deitemeyer, OTO Development’s Corry Oakes, Rockbridge’s Jim Merkel and Summit Hotel Properties’ Jon Stanner was that leaders at the very top of their organizations absolutely are focused on culture and have been since well before the pandemic.

“You have to know what you stand for as a company,” Merkel said.

Recognizing leadership at all levels of an organization was a topic in other conference sessions, as well. A group of asset managers talked about the importance of training at the property level — not just new hires who may not come from the hotel industry, but also retraining existing staff to ensure everyone is on the same page and reinforcing the same culture.
— Stephanie Ricca, editorial director

Refinement, longevity and happiness are the name of the game in 2022 for third-party boutique management companies such as Charlestowne Hotels, according to CEO Kyle Hughey and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Cady.

We’ve seen plenty of activity from larger third-party management companies growing through mergers and acquisitions. It’s interesting to see how niche, boutique companies are balancing the growth of their customer base and scale while also keeping that independent spirit. Companies such as Charlestowne are dialing in on the direction they want to take this year by being selective on the owners they move forward with and keeping employees happy by creating new benefits.
— Dana Miller, senior reporter