With a background she describes as varied, Marian Goodman brings a wealth of experience to Sky Hospitality, the ownership and management company she runs. Goodman went to school for civil engineering and worked for a big bank during the heyday of S&Ls. “At that time, you had to go present your applications to the federal home loan bank board and defend them in terms of why you needed a bank there,” she says. “It’s the same sort of stuff you do when looking at a new market for a hotel.” In the wake of the S&L crisis, she left banking to become the general manager of a 130-room, full-service Ramada Inn, an experience she describes as wonderful.
What’s so wonderful about running a hotel franchise? I love managing people and helping them grow. I love service and knowing that people leave our hotels and write wonderful things on TripAdvisor. I also really love the development process and working with a brand. A franchise brings recognition and awareness, which is worth a lot, but the real worth to me comes from the tools that a brand offers. These can vary from advertising to training to operational support. What’s especially invaluable is the customer care information, which helps us identify when we aren’t doing something right so we can improve it. And loyalty programs are a big driver of business as long as you train your employees to make guests aware of them.
How did you get started with Microtel? We got into Microtel because of Mike Leven, whom I had known and worked with while he was with IHG. He had left that company to grow this regional brand of 14 hotels into a national chain [Wyndham purchased Microtel in 2008]. My partner and I bought license number 30 and opened our first Microtel in Leesburg, Fla., in 1999. We’ve since sold that one, but we still own and operate our second Microtel, which is located near Tampa.
What do you like about Microtel? This brand has been through a lot, and it continues to collect awards and make money. The intent to return has always been huge; we’re talking 98 percent. Getting guests in the door has been a challenge because the brand doesn’t have the awareness of bigger brands, but tagging it Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham has certainly given us a boost.
The Days Inns in your management portfolio are all the new prototype. What do you think of it? It’s a wonderful prototype, and each property is running great metrics in terms of the cost per occupied room. Operationally, they’re efficient, and guests love the bold colors. They’re also economical to build and don’t take a lot of ground.