For the first-time owner choosing a management company, it makes sense that one of the first requirements at the top of the list would be experience. Rather than a novice owner signing on with an equally green behind the ears operator, it’s smarter to partner with a manager who has an interesting and varied CV to show for his or her efforts. The learning experience awaiting the new owner alone can prove enlightening.
But making the decision on the basis of a skills presentation alone can’t tell the whole story. “First-time owners should focus not only on the track record of a management company, but they should spend sufficient time in the firm’s offices to get to know the culture and the people,” advises Alex Cabañas, president and CEO of Benchmark Hospitality International.
“The partnership between owner and manager begins with a common basis of understanding and communication. If that rapport is there, all problems that arise can be dealt with together,” Cabañas adds.
Assuming that rapport is present, it’s time to get down to more substantive matters and—at least initially—that responsibility falls to the owner. “My tip to the first time owner would be to clearly spell out your goals. Ask the operator specifically how it can meet and exceed your objectives for the asset,” says Rob Winchester, president and COO of Waterford Hotel Group. “As the owner, you should be satisfied that the operator has the depth of resources to meet and exceed expectations. It’s also fair to expect that the operator is able to deliver personal and top-level attention to your asset,” Winchester explained. “The operator may have a long history, but that experience also needs to be with assets similar to yours.”
Then there’s the issue of the brand. Spire Hospitality president and CEO Bill DeForrest recommends that any manager being considered for the job have a strong relationship with the brand or potential brands under serious consideration. “The management team needs to be able to deliver the brand promise of the rooms revenue,” DeForrest notes.
But the same applies to the sub-brands involved in the project. “These include the branded catering, restaurant, and lounge operations as well as spa and resort services. All contribute to enhancing the overall guest experience and drive top and bottom line performance,” DeForrest says.