Mike Hines, chairman and CEO of the Alabama-based management company HP Hotels Inc., has been involved with franchised hotels throughout his career, from entry-level employee up to management and ownership positions. Hines has plenty of experience operating several Hilton brands and is a member of the Hilton Garden Inn Owners Advisory Council.
Lodging: How did you enter the hotel industry?
Mike Hines: My first experience with the hotel industry was as a waiter at the Sheraton Hotel while a student at the University of Montevallo, just outside of Birmingham. I entered the business in 1984 out of necessity—to pay for my tuition.
Lodging: How many Hilton Worldwide Properties Does HP Hotels Operate?
Hines: We currently operate 17 hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, including 11 Hilton Garden Inns, five Hampton Inns, and one Embassy Suites. The first Hilton brand HP operated as a hotel management company was the Hampton Inn Fultondale, Ala., in 2002.
Lodging: What inspired HP Hotels to work with Hilton?
Hines: After our first experience with Hilton, we quickly learned the power of the brands collectively and the company’s ability to cross-sell. That, along with the contribution of the reservation system and the customer loyalty that comes with Hilton HHonors, always makes us look first in the market for the availability of a Hilton flag.
Lodging: What has been the most rewarding about being an operator of Hilton brands?
Hines: The recognition by our investors of the performance of the brands is very rewarding. As a management company, we have to produce results, and the relationships of trust and respect built between the brand support teams and my corporate staff help us achieve those results. Lastly and most important, the return on investment we consistently receive from our Hilton assets is rewarding.
Lodging: What words of wisdom would you share with potential franchisees?
Hines: I think a potential franchisee should have a team in place that has a strong track record in whichever brand it owns or operates, along with an established relationship with the brand team. A key piece of advice is to be prepared to trust the brand team enough to follow the vision but not be afraid to question the team and its future goals or standards. In my experience, people are willing to listen and take into account well-thought-out responses and questions.