Michael Tall of Charlestowne Talks Revenue Maximization

TallFounded in 1980, Charlestowne Hotels has a diverse portfolio of more than 30 properties across many segments of the industry. President and COO, Michael Tall, says that the company’s lasting success stems from the individualized approach the company takes to its well-rounded portfolio.

Charlestowne manages everything from select-service to resorts. Do you feel like you have a specialty? We pride ourselves on our portfolio’s diversity, but, in my opinion, our specialty is revenue maximization. I think the ability to steal or create demand when necessary, coupled with data-driven decision-making and pricing practices, allows us to draw the top line as high as possible.

How did Charlestowne manage growth during the challenging economy of past few years? We actually had our fastest growth spurt ever in 2008 and 2009. There were a lot of owners looking for help because their assets were losing money, so we were able to create partnerships and get management contracts because assets were underperforming. We were not only able to minimize loss for some of those properties during the downturn, but actually improve their revenues when no other hotels were able to do the same.

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How did the improved economy impact your strategy? Now that we’re moving away from the downturn, the opportunities for growth have evolved. Hotels are changing hands because groups or owners are buying properties and they need professional management. We’ve also found that if our goals aligned with an owner during the downturn, we can certainly continue our relationship now that the economy has improved. There is opportunity in both sides of an economy.

What’s the trick to adding modern conveniences to a historic hotel? The guest profile is going to determine a property’s level of modern conveniences. Even with the exponential growth of mobile devices and the rise of digital conveniences, there are certain properties that might not be a good fit for all of those new advancements. For example, guests typically choose small, high-end properties for the experience. In this situation, they want to interact with the staff and learn about the area. If you put something in place that takes that away from them—like a keyless entry that doesn’t require them to check in at the front desk—they don’t get the personalized experience that they’re looking for.