The Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA), an organization of professionals responsible for proactively increasing asset values on behalf of hotel owners worldwide, launched the Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM) designation in April. Created in conjunction with some of the world’s leading hospitality executives and experts, the CHAM designation is the first professional certification for hotel asset managers. HAMA members represent 3,500 hotels and resorts, including independent properties and representatives of every major brand, accounting for 775,000 hotel rooms worldwide and more than $40 billion in annual revenue. Lodging Managing Editor Megan Sullivan recently spoke with Senior Vice President of Starwood Capital Cody Bradshaw about the significance of the new designation, and how it will help establish industry-wide standards of excellence.
1. Megan Sullivan: What is the Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM) designation, and what prompted the Hospitality Asset Managers Association to create it?
Cody Bradshaw: The Hospitality Asset Managers Association experienced firsthand the exciting growth of the hotel asset management profession over the last two decades. Our association was founded in 1992 by a handful of pioneering hotel asset managers who recognized the need for enhanced owner collaboration on industry issues as well as sustained nurturing of their evolving profession. Today, HAMA comprises over 200 professionals across North America and two newly formed international chapters in Japan and Singapore. With that exciting growth has come the need for greater clarity on the spectrum of skill sets associated with a senior hotel asset manager.
We created CHAM in order to establish industry-wide “standards of excellence” as a means to further solidify the institutional/fiduciary role and expectations of a senior asset manager within the international hotel real estate community. Offering this designation also fulfills one of HAMA’s primary objectives, which is to promote the professional development of its members through continued education and networking opportunities.
The industry response to the Certified Hotel Asset Manager designation has been extraordinarily positive. There is resounding agreement within the hotel industry and the broader real estate industry that this program represents a significant step forward for the hotel asset manager profession.
2. MS: What is required of candidates in order to achieve CHAM certification, and what benefits are involved for the designee?
CB: The CHAM certification prerequisites are predominantly driven by an experience factor in determining a candidate’s level of expertise in the area of hotel asset management. The program targets senior-level asset managers who have demonstrated an in-depth knowledge base covering all facets of hotel asset management, primarily while serving in the role of “lead” asset manager. Specifically, candidates must have at least seven years of lead asset management experience prior to submitting an application. The application process also requires letters of recommendation, acceptance of the CHAM Code of Ethics, and payment of a fee. Once the application is approved, the candidate will receive an exam preparation book and may take the CHAM exam as the final step in the certification process. The CHAM exam consists of 200-multiple choice questions across six key areas of knowledge. Once certified, candidates must take part in a recertification process every five years, which ensures ongoing, active involvement in the industry.
Achieving the CHAM certification announces that you have a place among the best in your profession and are capable of adequately fulfilling the role and expectations demanded of you by hotel owners and key stakeholders. Ultimately, we envision the CHAM designation becoming widely-incorporated as a requirement in various fiduciary and legal contracts, much like that of an appraisal (MAI), accounting (CPA), or commercial property investment (CCIM) professional.
3. MS: Why is this designation important?
CB: The launch of this professional designation comes at a unique time in our industry’s history. Global investor interest in hotels as a “core” real estate investment class is increasing to record levels right at a time when maximizing hotel asset values has become more complex than ever before. As a result, major stakeholders of all types now recognize asset management as a crucial part of any hotel investment strategy. That said, the very “end user” stakeholders that rely on our profession usually lack the expertise required to fully assess the individuals taking on the fiduciary role of lead asset manager. Adding to the confusion is the often liberal use of the title “hotel asset manager” commonly seen from unqualified individuals from outside the profession.
4. MS: How will CHAM certification indicate that these select professionals are capable of fulfilling the expectations of hotel owners and stakeholders?
CB: The development of the CHAM certification program was a major three-year undertaking involving an all-volunteer group of renowned leaders and organizations from within the industry who were driven solely by their passion regarding the need for this designation. A CHAM Advisory Panel made up of leading authorities from within the industry and academia was established to develop the designation structure and exam content. They received extensive input from HAMA membership as well as from a CHAM Endorsement Committee made up of prominent experts from across the global real estate industry. The Advisory Panel will approve all applications and serve as the administrative body appointed by the HAMA Board of Directors to oversee this designation.
The result of this collaboration is a comprehensive program that offers the world’s only advanced certification available to accomplished hotel asset management professionals. Achieving the CHAM designation most certainly indicates one’s ability to fulfill the expectations of owners and stakeholders.