Executive Shuffle

A pair of major operators—Aimbridge Hospitality and Hospitality Ventures Management Group (HVMG)—bolstered their executive ranks earlier this week with senior-level appointments, one of which involves an industry veteran who will now have experience with both companies.

Dallas-based Aimbridge Hospitality has welcomed travel and tourism industry veteran Mark Tamis to the role of President, Global Operations. The addition of Tamis represents Aimbridge’s commitment to and investment in providing an elevated management experience to hotel owners and creating memorable experiences for guests, according to the company.

“Adding a seasoned leader with the breadth and depth of experience Mark brings to the team is an opportunity to continue to elevate our operational excellence,” said Michael Deitemeyer, President/CEO, Aimbridge. “As Aimbridge continues to evolve, Mark’s expertise and leadership will empower our global operations team to further define industry best practices, partner with brands, ultimately add greater value for our owners and set new standards in the hospitality industry.”

Tamis joins Aimbridge with more than 35 years of hospitality leadership experience, including a diverse background in hotel, resort and cruise operations. Most recently he served as Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations at Royal Caribbean International, overseeing every aspect of hotel services across the global cruise line’s fleet and its private destinations, including all onboard revenue operations and food, beverage and entertainment offerings.

Meanwhile, Atlanta-based HVMG has named former Aimbridge executive Peter Hoffman to the position of SVP, select brands. In his new role, Hoffman will oversee and be responsible for the performance of the company’s existing portfolio of select-service brands.

“Adding Peter to our team marks the culmination of an intensive and targeted effort that will augment the support provided to all of our key stakeholders, including our general managers, owners and brand partners,” said Robert Cole, President/CEO, HVMG. “Having added 15 select-service properties during the past 12 months, the speed with which we transition hotels and the need to quickly ramp up results after they transition is more important to owners and partners than it is has ever been. With an exceptional and extensive track record of delivering results and developing leaders over more than 20 years, Peter is the ideal candidate to drive performance, through instilling both efficiency and innovation in execution, while at the same leading and supporting general managers and strengthening owner relationships.”

Prior to joining HVMG, Hoffman most recently was EVP, select-service division at Aimbridge Hospitality. While there, he provided executive level leadership to support the merger of Aimbridge and Interstate Hotels & Resorts into one seamless operation and was responsible for 281 hotels.

Prior to the merger, he was SVP, operations for Interstate, where he led the operations of 80 select-service hotels, and senior vice-president, asset management for BRE Hotels & Resorts. Hoffman was responsible for BRE’s 175-hotel, select-service portfolio.

Finally, another hotel management company added to its executive team when Justin Jabara, president of Meyer Jabara Hotels, announced Heidi Nielsen as vp of investments & asset management. For the last 15 years, Nielsen has served as Managing Director for a global consulting firm. In this new role, she will oversee the MJH portfolio of hotels and identify new investment opportunities in top markets.

“Meyer Jabara Hotels continues to expand its development footprint,” Justin Jabara said. “The foundational principles of hotel development have not changed; great underwriting is key to success. Heidi’s experience and tenure in hospitality, hotel appraisal and consulting work and ability to network with developers on proposed hotel projects, will be instrumental to our continued growth and prosperity. From culture to expertise, she is a great fit and will add another layer of sophistication to our asset management service. As we continue to develop and acquire hotels, Heidi will be crucial to supporting our capital relationships and supporting our existing development partners. She specializes in advising both experienced hotel developers and first-time hotel developers who need special guidance. We are proud to have her on our team.”

In addition to completing hundreds of hotel assignments, Nielsen has written on the unique dynamics of lodging markets proximate to major U.S. military installations, as well as providing overall coverage of hotel markets in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Charleston.

Gaining Momentum

Earlier this week Choice Hotels International became the latest major brand company to report its 1Q results for 2022 and the Rockville, MD-based franchisor outpaced all of its competitors in terms of RevPAR performance with results exceeding 2019 by more than 10 percent.

Hilton and Marriott International, meanwhile, both saw improvement over last year in terms of global results and are projecting a continued recovery and improved results going forward.

Patrick Pacious, President and CEO, Choice Hotels, commented on the results.

“Building on the record year we had in 2021, where we surpassed 2019 RevPAR and profitability levels, Choice Hotels’ proven business model once again delivered impressive quarterly results, and we expect this momentum to continue as we approach the summer leisure travel season,” he stated.

For Choice, domestic systemwide revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth increased by 10.4% for first quarter 2022, compared to the same period of 2019, and outperformed the total industry by 13 percentage points. RevPAR growth was driven by an increase in average daily rate (ADR) of 9.3% and a 60-basis-point increase in occupancy levels versus first quarter 2019.

In addition, domestic systemwide RevPAR growth has surpassed 2019 levels for 10 consecutive months through March 31, 2022, a trend that has continued in the second quarter of 2022 with April RevPAR increasing approximately 16%, compared to April of 2019. RevPAR for full-year 2022 is expected to increase between 10% and 13%, compared to full-year 2019.

Applications received for new domestic franchise agreements increased by 46% in first quarter 2022, compared to the same period of 2021.

For the three months ended March 31, 2022, Hilton’s system-wide comparable RevPAR increased 80.5 percent compared to the same period in 2021, due to increases in both occupancy and ADR, and fee revenues increased 79 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

For comparison to pre-pandemic results, system-wide comparable RevPAR for the three months ended March 31, 2022 was down 17.0 percent compared to the three months ended March 31, 2019. For the three months ended March 31, 2022, diluted EPS was $0.75 and diluted EPS, adjusted for special items, was $0.71 compared to $(0.39) and $0.02, respectively, for the three months ended March 31, 2021.

Net income (loss) and Adjusted EBITDA were $211 million and $448 million, respectively, for the three months ended March 31, 2022, compared to $(109) million and $198 million, respectively, for the three months ended March 31, 2021.

Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer of Hilton, stated, “We are happy to report solid first-quarter results, with all segments driving better than expected top line performance in March. Our results in the quarter, coupled with our confidence in continued recovery throughout the year, enabled us to begin returning capital to shareholders earlier than we had anticipated.”

Marriott International, meanwhile, reported that 1Q 2022 comparable systemwide constant dollar RevPAR increased 96.5 percent worldwide, 99.1 percent in the U.S. & Canada, and 88.5 percent in international markets, compared to the 2021 first quarter. In addition, first quarter 2022 comparable systemwide constant dollar RevPAR declined 19.4 percent worldwide, 14.5 percent in the U.S. & Canada, and 31.7 percent in international markets, compared to the 2019 first quarter;

Anthony Capuano, CEO, Marriott International, stated, “During the first quarter, we saw the largest surge in global demand since the pandemic began in 2020.  Worldwide occupancy rose dramatically from 45 percent in January, impacted by the Omicron variant, to 64 percent in March, less than 10 percentage points below pre‐pandemic levels.  Rates further strengthened, with worldwide Average Daily Rate for March exceeding the same month in 2019 by 5 percent.

“In the U.S. & Canada, RevPAR improved significantly in February and March, particularly across our urban markets, driven by occupancy and rate gains across all customer segments. Internationally, RevPAR gains were notable during the quarter in every region except for Greater China given the stringent travel restrictions resulting from the country’s dynamic zero‐ COVID policy.  The Middle East and Africa region was again the furthest recovered, with first quarter RevPAR up 12 percent compared to 2019.”

 

 

 

Back To Basics On Sustainability

Sustainability continues to take on an increasingly important role within the lodging industry as more companies and associations recognize the need to address the issue in a meaningful way.

Key tourism agencies, in particular, have recently emphasized the importance of sustainability. As an example, Roger Dow, president and CEO, U.S. Travel Association, drive home the point during last month’s Hunter Hotel Investment Conference.

“We’ve got to be on board with sustainability. If we’re not at the table here we’re going to be on the menu, it’s as simple as that. There’s a whole group that’s coming after us saying we’re the bad folks. We’re doing so much and we’ve got to talk about that,” he said.

To highlight the changing consumer mindset, Dow further referenced a USA Today study from over a decade ago where some 5 percent of consumers said they would change travel plans based on a particular brand’s commitment to sustainability. He pointed out that number is now approaching 20 percent.

Meanwhile, at this year’s Global Summit held in Manila, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched Hotel Sustainability Basics, a globally recognized and coordinated set of minimum indicators that all hotels should implement to drive responsible travel and tourism and to help every hotel address and improve their environmental impact.

A number of global brands have supported this initiative, including Radisson Hotel Group, Accor, Barceló Hotel Group, Huazhu, including its affiliate Deutsche Hospitality, Indian Hotels Company Limited, Jin Jiang International (Holdings) Co., Ltd. including its affiliates Jin Jiang Hotels, Louvre Hotels Group, Meliá Hotels International, and Minor Hotels including NH Hotel Group.

The WTTC, together with the above-mentioned group of initial supporters, is calling upon hotel operators, owners, associations, and investors around the world to endorse the initiative officially and implement its criteria.

Developed by the industry for the industry, the Hotel Sustainability Basics establishes a globally recognized set of minimum indicators that all hotels should implement and sets a common definition of hotel sustainability to drive responsible travel and tourism, which will help raise the base level of sustainability across the entire hospitality industry by providing every hotel a starting point on their sustainability journey.

The Basics’ 12 criteria focus on actions which are fundamental to hotel sustainability and address tourism’s impact on the planet across a spectrum of critical issues such as water usage, waste production, and resource procurement. These criteria include actions to measure and reduce energy use, measure and reduce water use, identify and reduce waste, and measure and reduce carbon emissions. The criteria also include a linen reuse program, use of green cleaning products, the elimination of plastic straws, stirrers, and single-use plastic water bottles, the implementation of bulk amenity dispensers, as well as measures to benefit local communities.

The Hotel Sustainability Basics features different stages to support hotels that are just getting started as well as those who are more advanced in their sustainability performance. For example, eight of the 12 criteria are mandatory, whilst others can be committed to and implemented within the first three years.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said in a statement: “We are launching the Hotel Sustainability Basics to ensure no hotel, however small, is left behind in the drive to introduce a basis sustainability measures within a minimum level the next three years. Sustainability is non-negotiable but not every small hotel has access to the science on how to make a difference. This gives everyone access to a global standard and provides consumers to travel with conference. WTTC wants the hospitality industry to lead by example so that sustainability becomes the basic requirement used to drive change forward for this generation and the next.”

Sharing A Success Story

It’s well documented that labor remains a huge challenge for the lodging industry in the wake of the pandemic and the massive loss of jobs that resulted. Hospitality is far from the only industry having trouble finding qualified workers, but when you consider that many workers reportedly have no intention of returning to hotels the issue is far more serious.

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), no industry has been more affected by the pandemic than hospitality when it comes to job loss. As of last year, leisure and hospitality had lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic, representing more than a third of all unemployed persons in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, hotels were projected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs.

In a recent panel discussion at the Hunter Conference, Julienne Smith, SVP, development, IHG Hotels & Resorts, offered some commentary.

“We need people to be wanting to be a part of our industry, right? For young people coming out of college, it’s not just about working in hotels there are a lot of other aspects to this business that are attractive. Attracting young people to this business I think should be a primary focus to allow us to grow and evolve,” she said.

Furthermore, Smith urged attendees to “continue to tell your story” as it relates to travel. And there are good stories to tell within the industry as well. For example, consider that yesterday was named No. 2 on the 2022 Best Companies to Work For list in the U.S. by Great Place to Work and Fortune. There were three other hotel companies in the rankings with Marriott International coming in at 23, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants at 44 and Hyatt at 70.

“We’re incredibly honored to be recognized as a Great Place to Work for the seventh year in a row,” said Chris Nassetta, president/CEO, Hilton. “I’m so proud of our team members and everything they’ve done to share the light and warmth of hospitality with our guests, especially over the last two years. This recognition is a testament to what we’ve built together at Hilton—a culture that’s welcoming, supportive and showcases the transformative impact our hospitality has with our guests, owners, communities and each other.”

The mega-brand company provides benefits to both hourly and salaried team members, including expanded parental leave, adoption assistance and extended bereavement leave. Last year, Hilton also launched a new campaign to increase support for team members’ mental wellness, focused on creating dialogue around the topic of mental health, providing team members with new tools and resources and leaning on Hilton’s established culture of well-being, according to the company.

In addition, Hilton has dedicated goals to achieve global gender parity and 25% ethnic diversity at a corporate leadership level in the U.S. by 2027. Additionally, it was ranked No. 1 on DiversityInc’s 2021 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.

That’s a story that needs to be told, and emulated, by every hospitality company.

Family-First Approach

For hotel companies investing in your people has never been more critical than it is today amid the well-chronicled labor crisis, which has impacted the entire lodging industry. With that in mind, EOS Hospitality has launched a program designed to give back to its associates.

The New York-based management company—which has some 3,000 associates and has built a portfolio of 38 hotels since its debut in 2017—recently unveiled its EOS Family Matters program. The program grants 10 weeks of 100 percent of paid leave to all full-time staff that become new parents. It is gender-neutral and applies to natural birth, adoption, surrogacy, and foster parenting.

Benefits under the new program are available any time within 12 months after welcoming a new child, and it applies to top executives as well as on-property employees. It includes those that are salaried, as well as those that are hourly.

Dan Bienstock, chief people officer at EOS, called the initiative “the right thing to do” as he explained the rationale for the program.

“Just looking at our industry, and the country as a whole, parental leave is something that was really important to Jonathan [Wang, founder and CEO], myself and other senior leaders…It comes back to wanting to invest in our employees,” he said.

EOS Family Matters reflects the company’s larger commitment to valuing work-life harmony and operating as a different kind of hospitality company, according to the firm. Other recent company initiatives include a portfolio-wide discount to employees and their immediate families, the formation of a DEI taskforce to build a more equitable workplace, and a social impact fund.

Bienstock noted that the failure of a national family leave act to be passed is “disappointing.” In 2020, only 20% of private sector workers had access to paid family leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number is even smaller for those in the service sector, those in the bottom 50% of wage earners, and people of color.

Bienstock further acknowledged he expects the new program to ultimately benefit EOS, but he believes the overall impact will be far greater.

“Do we think that it’s going to help us attract employees and retain them? Absolutely, but I don’t think it’s quite that linear. While I do see this as differentiator today and a way to continue to attract and retain talent, I’m hopeful that it becomes less of a differentiator in some ways over the coming months and years. I hope that our competitors follow our lead and it becomes sort of standard for hospitality employees,” he said.

Bienstock noted the rollout of the program was a three to four-month process, which included an extensive amount of internal analysis in coming up with the parameters.

“As part of that analysis we considered the cost of turnover and retention, which is skyrocketing in the hospitality industry. It’s always been expensive anytime you turn over an employee, but to attract and retain talent right now is even harder having just gone through this sort of mass exodus. We felt as though if this program alone retains that one individual who utilizes it, the program is almost paying for itself,” he said.

The company will be closely watching the initial results of the program, and is open to further revisions going forward if needed, according to Bienstock.

“One of the things I’m really excited about just from a data standpoint is seeing what it looks like after the first year. We can project all we want, but I think seeing how impactful the program will be is something we’re going to closely track and analyze over the first year. It will be very telling on how successful the program was and if we’re going to continue to evolve the program,” he said.

 

Ron Pohl

Powerful Promotions

A trio of recent c-level executive changes among major hotel companies highlighted a busy week plus of significant personnel moves within the lodging industry.

In the most noteworthy move, BWH Hotel Group promoted Ron Pohl to serve as the company’s President of International Operations and President of WorldHotels. Pohl joined the organization in 2007 and previously served as SVP and COO. In his new role, Pohl will be responsible for further strengthening the organization’s presence around the world and enhancing the company’s operations on a global level.

WorldHotels is comprised of four unique collections, each with its own personality and style to appeal to the needs of the modern traveler. The collections include: WorldHotels Luxury, WorldHotels Elite, WorldHotels Distinctive and WorldHotels Crafted. As President of WorldHotels, Pohl will be responsible for ensuring the organizations strategic goals are met to include increasing scale, driving exceptional revenue to hoteliers, and enhancing the brand’s image.

Prior to joining Best Western, Pohl spent 25 years with Boykin Management Company and Marriott Corporation. With Boykin, he served in a number of senior-level positions and, ultimately, Senior Vice President of Operations. He currently serves on the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Board of Directors, the Advisory Board for Grand Canyon University and previously served on the board of directors for the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Tom Luersen, president of CoralTree Hospitality, announced that Andre Fournier has been promoted to Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), a new position for the company. Fournier has been with CoralTree since its inception as executive vice president overseeing revenue, sales and marketing.

The company’s new CCO will continue to oversee all aspects of the company’s marketing, sales, revenue operations and plans. Additionally, the CCO will be instrumental in developing and leading customer experience and innovation strategies. In his new role, Fournier will serve as the brand champion, along with Luersen, ensuring that CoralTree’s values and voice serve as the key facet for creating the brand and reputation platform in a purpose-driven culture of performance, according to the company.

Finally, MCR—a New York-based owner-operator with a portfolio of 140 hotels—has promoted William White to the position of CFO.

Since joining MCR in January 2016, White has served as an SVP, acquisitions and development based in the company’s New York City office. In that role, he led the company’s New York City hotel operations, overseeing day-to-day management as well as the acquisition of The Lexington Hotel, Autograph Collection, and the Royalton Hotel New York.

He also oversaw the firm’s acquisition of two software companies—StayNTouch, a cloud-based hotel property management system, and Optii, a software platform that transforms hotel operations. In his new role, he leads MCR’s finance function, including accounting, fund administration, tax, treasury and human resources.

Prior to MCR, he worked for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he analyzed opportunities for a portfolio of New York City development properties.