In 2019, single-brand hotel companies like My Place Hotels are becoming increasingly rare. Over the past few years, the industry has seen similar brands acquired right and left by hotel industry juggernauts, joining portfolios that sometimes encompass more than 20 brands. While many small companies might be eager to be acquired by a company with more scale, according to My Place CEO Ryan Rivett, an acquisition is not something he would entertain for My Place in the near future. “We’re just getting started,” he told LODGING at the 2019 My Place Convention, which took place April 23-26 in San Diego.
My Place is due to open its 50th property this summer and has a robust pipeline, with 16 properties either under construction or about to begin construction over the next few weeks. Further, the Rivett noted that it had 76 signed franchise agreements as of the convention, up from 45 in 2018. The 2019 Convention, which was held across the street from the 2019 AAHOA Convention, also saw an uptick in attendees, with 250 franchisees, potential franchisees, and other hotel industry professionals attending the conference, which had a very laid back and communal vibe.
This vibe was representative of the culture that My Place’s executives have built around the brand, fostering an environment where owners can easily communicate with brand leadership and each other, bringing concerns to executives and sharing solutions. This culture is also key to the brand’s continuing growth. “This is fundamental in franchising,” Rivett said. “The purpose of the franchise model is to create a network of people that will help you if you stumble. I think that can get lost as companies scale up, and owners no longer are able to talk directly to leadership.”
Rivett added that because My Place is still relatively small, franchisee concerns and suggestions are more easily heard and implemented. “Our system, standards, and the methods by which we implement new initiatives evolve as a result of what our franchisees tell us and what they experience when building new properties. That’s why the energy is so good at our convention—our people feel supported.”
This communication-centric approach doesn’t just apply to how My Place interacts with its franchisees, but also how franchisees interact with My Place guests, especially online. As a brand, My Place is extremely active on social media and reached more than 20 million people via social channels in 2018. My Place managers are also closely following the brand’s online ratings, and Rivett noted that management responds to 95 percent of online reviews for My Place hotels. “That represents the great relationship we have with our guests,” he said. Doing a deeper dive into online reviews, Rivett also shared that 63 percent of My Place properties have a perfect score on online review sites, and 87 percent have at least four out of five stars.
Rivett and the entire My Place team were also enthusiastic about what lies ahead for the brand. At this year’s convention, they announced the launch of a loyalty program, Stay Rewarded, which is due to go live on June 3. “Stay Rewarded is a combination of perspectives on how we can reward people, how we can reward guests, how we can reward operators, how we can balance what’s important to our operators and to our guests, and hopefully, continue to grow our population of loyal My Place followers,” Rivett described at the convention.
Looking forward, Rivett and the My Place Hotels team are still laser-focused on growth, but also maintaining the culture that has already brought the company so far. “Despite our growth, it’s still the same culture, we have the same feel, the same energy. I think that the fact that we’ve been able to grow to the point that we have without losing that feeling of like-mindedness and our community means that we can keep doing that,” Rivett said. “There are no plans to hold anything back or keep it small, we’re ramping up our growth in every area, and we are going to do all we can to ensure that people keep following along stay excited.”