As president and operating partner for Marlin Hospitality, Ken Leone leads and oversees the management teams and hospitality portfolios for Marlin, including the boutique “beach” brand Margaritaville. As he recently explained to LODGING, the brand’s success in unlikely locales speaks to the strength of a very particular state of mind—even in the urban market of Nashville.
How does being in the urban market of Nashville impact how you manage this branch?
Margaritaville brings a leisure component that is desirable everywhere. But unlike other Margaritaville locations, where 90 percent of guests are leisure travelers, in this specific market, the real change will be focusing on business travel and groups. Nashville is very big on gatherings such as bachelor and bachelorette parties and girls weekend getaways—and we want to really own that group market. But we also want to attract business travelers using Margaritaville’s feel to create some fun, different twists for our guests who are regular business travelers.
This does require some changes. As an independent hotel being managed by a primarily independent hotel management company, the property shares the same reservation system and platform services as other Margaritaville brand properties. But, in cooperation with Margaritaville, we needed to make some adjustments, as with a recipe. Because we’re doing something a little bit different, we apply what we know in terms of the different market segments and manage those segments in terms of revenue, using the same disciplines that you would in any other type of hotel.
What do hotel owners need to know about hiring a management company?
First, you want to hire a management company that really understands what you’re trying to accomplish. If you have select service hotels, there are a lot of companies out there that can and do manage those standard brands efficiently. Marlin is focused on independent hotels, so independent hotels can just plug into our platform, which is specifically designed for them. We specialize in creatively bringing unique lodging concepts to life. For us, the conceptual part— listening to owners and being able to take what they’re saying and bring it alive—is what we do.