Ketan Patel has the hotel business in his blood. He and his family have owned and operated properties for more than 30 years. Together they run Rainmaker Hospitality, a management fi rm based in Lexington, Ky. Although the firm is affi liated with several brands such as Wyndham, IHG, Choice, and Hilton, Patel has had the most experience working with Carlson. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Kentucky Hotel and Lodging Association and is a director at large of AAHOA.
Lodging: What was your first hotel franchise, and how did you get into the business?
Ketan Pate: When I moved to the United States from India in 1994, I worked in my family’s hotel for a while before becoming the general manager. Then in 1998, my brother, uncle, and I opened a new Country Inns and Suites in Lexington, Ky., and I managed it for 10 years. It was pretty easy to get the hotel off the ground and run it. At the time, Country was a new, up-and-coming brand, so the corporate office was very supportive. We were so small that we were like a family in those days.
Lodging: How is it working with Carlson now that there’s some energy behind Country Inns?
Patel: Good. The new Country prototype was rolled out earlier this year, and it really looks good, though I wish Carlson would have brought it in a couple of years ago before we completed the second phase of our renovation. So we will implement the new look in our property in three stages. Carlson is giving us enough time to implement all of these changes. This industry is getting so competitive, so we need to change things up every now and then to keep up.
Lodging: What sort of recommendations do you have for someone looking to get into the industry?
Patel: If you’re new to the industry, you should really try working at a hotel for a while to see how you like it and then step into owning one. It helps to know the ins and outs of running a hotel. You should also join your local owners association. When you belong to an association, you benefit from greater
industry insight. And this helps your day-to-day operations.