ABERDEEN, SD—The 2017 My Place Hotels of America Convention brought nearly 200 attendees, including My Place owners, operators, and partners, from across the country to San Antonio’s Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort from Sept. 11-13. The event engaged participants across platform updates and development news, with the central theme of “Beyond Borders” serving as a guiding perspective throughout panel discussions, keynotes, and hands-on workshops. In his opening address, My Place President and CEO, Ryan Rivett, pointed to how the theme applies to both the convention and the brand’s culture cultivated by hard-working people.
“We set out to affect change in the ailing economy segment, and we’ve gone beyond our product, niche, and development goals to do that in a very simple yet profound way,” Rivett said. “In business, there’s a tendency to focus on the aptitude of individuals and its effects on an organization. At My Place, we’re guided by the spirit of hospitality to focus on our attitude and how to empower each other by sharing our experiences. By imparting knowledge at every opportunity, we are continually pushing ourselves and each other beyond what we previously imagined is possible.”
During the convention, the brand unveiled its G2 lobby design, which is already in the pipeline. The design focuses on efficiency and guest experience with an open lobby that eliminates literal boundaries to the My Lounge and 24/7 My Store. All lobby furnishings and finishes have also seen a modern facelift with the G2 lobby, according to Corey Haaland, My Place director of construction and prototype management.
Hotel consultant Mark Skinner of The Highland Group said that My Place’s efficient prototype allows for the growing brand to develop in places others can’t. Today’s average extended-stay hotel offers between 110 and 120 units, which dictates to some degree the size of the market that brand can enter, Skinner said. “With fewer rooms, My Place can enter markets other brands can’t,” Skinner said.
At last year’s conference, My Place had opened 23 locations in 10 states. The year, the brand has opened 33 locations across 17 states, and the company’s leadership announced plans to sell an additional 100 My Place franchises by mid-2019. As My Place picks up momentum in franchise sales and development, Rivett and Terry Kline, My Place EVP of franchise development, attribute the brand’s 3 percent increase in occupancy and 6.5 percent ADR increase to the brand’s franchisees, who are developing in multiple locations across small and large markets alike.
“From a franchise development perspective, we’re finding our niche just about everywhere, and I think we’re proving that as we go along,” Kline said. “Having taken our position as efficiency experts, we are excited by this new focus from upper midscale and emerging brands on improving quality in the economy segment. How successful they will be, time will tell, but these brands need to understand the fundamental elements needed to make that kind of product efficient.”
Sarah Dinger, My Place SVP of brand management, presented platform and program updates that have pushed My Place Beyond Borders in the past year. Under Dinger’s leadership, My Place recently partnered with Sabre Hospitality Solutions, and has nearly completed its property management system migration to SynXis PM, Sabre’s PMS solution. With an aim towards streamlining operational efficiencies and enhancing guest experiences, My Place says that its decision to migrate has saved its owners 21 percent on monthly technology expenditures while reducing check-in in time by 18 percent so far.
Dinger also highlighted dividends from new partnerships including Digital Alchemy, Lanyon, and Yext. The integration of Digital Alchemy’s CRM solutions services has resulted in more than 4,000 room nights booked, $318,000 in generated revenue, and 189,000 emails sent showing an 18 percent open rate, the company says. My Place also says that it partnered with Lanyon to enhance its corporate travel platform which generated more than $730,000 in revenue. The recent implementation of Yext’s business listings services has also improved accuracy and consistency, linking analytics to more than 100 high-traffic listings, according to the company.
Dinger also presented new departments, personnel, and projects. Central to My Place’s “Hotel in a Box” approach to franchise development is a comprehensive support system including everything from prototype and design to revenue management and social media. My Place announced that it has added a revenue management department with a growing staff dedicated to competition analysis and rate management, an ever-expanding portfolio of collateral and visual content including videos, a social media plan that directly supports operators in reaching potential customers, and the brand’s “Progress Portal,” a project management dashboard designed by My Place’s Michele Shilhanek, director of hotel opening support.
As the very first employee of My Place, Dinger opened her keynote by reflecting on the growth that she witnesses. “I have had the privilege to witness so much growth year over year,” Dinger said. “What I absolutely love the most is that each franchise agreement signed, every hotel groundbreaking attended, or every hotel opened is a milestone celebrated with the same level of excitement as the first.”
Photo: My Place President & CEO Ryan Rivett moderates a panel of My Place Hotel owners to share their experiences.