La Quinta Remains Agile While Focusing on Growth

TrivediGoing public in April is just another milestone in La Quinta’s steady transformation from regional player to national brand. In La Quinta’s first earnings call since the IPO, the company reported a profit of $17.5 million and raised its full-year outlook on the expectation that RevPAR would increase to 6 to 7 percent, up from its earlier projection of 5.5 to 7 percent. According to Rajiv Trivedi, EVP and chief development officer, getting big is inevitable. “But while La Quinta wants to be big, the company also wants to create a culture that keeps it agile and able to respond in a swift manner.”

What are your most recent numbers in terms of properties open and in the pipeline? The growth is fantastic in all facets. We have 190 properties in the pipeline comprising 15,678 rooms. We opened 24 new properties during the first half of the year, including 12 in the second quarter. In Mexico, we have 16 hotels in the pipeline and one each in Canada, Honduras, and Colombia. We also have franchise agreements in place for two properties in Guatemala and one in Nicaragua.

How has the reaction been to La Quinta’s new Del Sol prototype? Fantastic actually. There’s a tremendous amount of interest in our prototype, not only new prospects, but people that have executed agreements with us as well. We have quite a lot of projects in planning phases and moving forward with construction. One of the first ones we anticipate opening with the new prototype will be in College Station, Texas, early spring 2015 and then many more to follow.

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Will there be some conversions using the Del Sol prototype elements? Obviously we are trying to incorporate as many elements as we can, but with such a unique and beautiful prototype, our focus is to first get new construction in the ground as quickly as possible and then look at how effectively we can incorporate all these elements into conversions. Currently, La Quinta’s pipeline stands at almost 85 percent new construction.

Does having a new prototype make it easier to get more developments off the ground? Absolutely. One of the pet peeves of hotel builders, owners, and developers is all the non-revenue-producing square feet of so many brand prototypes. We made sure we created an efficient prototype with as little dead space as possible. The Del Sol prototype is 56,000 square feet and incorporates 104 rooms. And we’re still giving our guests everything they’re looking for—a larger workout facility, faster Internet, more power outlets, 24-hour coffee, the element of moderness, and a great room where they can be in the community but have privacy.

Do you think more needs to be done to promote Asian Americans into leadership positions in the lodging industry? Asian Americans are in higher-up positions. I’m proud to see the growth of the Indian American community, and in my opinion, it’s just the beginning. From Mit Shah at Noble Hospitality to Jay Shah at Hersha to Tushar Patel of T2 Hospitality, there are so many Asian Americans that have created their own level of success. We are at one and a half generations, and the world is an oyster for Asian Americans to grow in many facets in many industries.

Did you have a mentor when you were entering the business? My father told me one thing I’ll never forget: People won’t remember how much money you made, how many bills you signed, and how many rewards you got, but they’re always going to remember what kind of son, brother, father, husband, and friend you were and what kind of contribution you made in society. So when you do anything with anybody, remember one thing: You are doing it in good faith to help and grow that relationship and trust between two people. I have carried that in some fashion wherever I have worked.