Prestige Hospitality Group
Prestige Hospitality Group formed in 2007 when two hoteliers merged companies. It was just before the economic crash and proved a difficult time in the hospitality industry. Despite that challenge, however, the third-party management firm hit the ground running and has grown to manage a portfolio of 14 properties.
“We came in and presented the fact that we are a great resource to hotel owners and developers,” President and COO Justin Smith says. “Being a third-party management company, we are responsible for human resources, guest services, financial operations, accounting and financial services, and sales and marketing and we are a great resource. When it comes to a difficult economy, developers and owners look to us to find new opportunities and bring additional resources to hotels that are underperforming.”
Seven years after it was founded, Prestige Hospitality Group is dealing with an altogether different economic situation. Instead of several hotels competing for vanishing dollars, Smith says consumers are coming back to the industry – signaling to competitors that it is time to also enter the market.
“This is a very transparent industry and everyone knows what their neighbor is doing – what does Hyatt sell its rooms for and what their occupancy rate is, for example,” Smith explains. “If there’s a market out there that’s doing well and operating at high occupancy or at an exceptional rate, everyone knows about it, and the mentality is if you can be the new player in town with great product and amenities, you will win. So depending on how banks are lending, you can see an incredible surge in supply in certain areas. It’s very difficult to stay competitive when you see certain areas piling up and then five new hotels come into the market. It has kept us on our toes to make sure we offer the best products to guests.”
To do that, Prestige Hospitality Group has launched a company initiative aligning the culture and bringing decision-making back to basics. The company recently hired Bill Gomez as vice president of organizational development. His sole responsibility in that role is to groom and develop a strong team that will aid Prestige Hospitality Group in its growth plans, while helping those same team members grow within their own career goals. This ultimately will allow the company to recruit talent who are interested in having a career with one company.
Smith says Gomez has developed an aggressive training program for young leadership coming up in the company, which is no easy feat considering the wide array of markets Prestige Hospitality Group covers. From 34-room limited service inns to branded 290-room hotels boasting a banquet hall and waterpark, the company’s portfolio runs the gamut. It’s difficult to develop a one-size-fits-all approach for implementing new policies and standards when working with such a diverse company, but that is exactly what Prestige Hospitality Group has set out to do.
“He’s going back down to the basics, and one tool he’s utilizing is the balanced scorecard approach to running hotels,” Smith says. “All of the training he rolls out across the properties is based on a balanced scorecard tracking sales, profit, guest satisfaction and associate satisfaction.”
The tool will simplify operations and help fuel growth as Prestige Hospitality continues to grow in 2014 following its strong growth from the previous year. In 2013, the company added four hotels to its portfolio and Smith says it has seen strong growth for the last five years. This year, the company has already added a Manhattan Comfort Inn in New York’s Lower East Side/Chinatown area that opened in late April. It is also working with the developers of a new Homewood Suites that will open in 2015.
Recognized and Recommended
Much of the company’s growth has come through old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations. When your clients receive such accolades as being top-six in customer service and No. 1 in cleanliness for Doubletree brands and top-five in customer service among Hyatt brands, word tends to get around.
“Simply continuing to maintain and perform on assets we are involved in is also a big part of our growth strategy because most if not all of our business comes from word of mouth,” Smith says. “When we have award-winning hotels, people see our success and highly recommend us to their clients. As long as we’re doing a good job for our current hotels, we feel like it will pay back in spades.”
Smith believes the company’s solid infrastructure and operations and the recognition it gets from them will allow it to expand outside of its Northeast home base. It also works with reliable vendors such as CDR Insurance, which aid in its growth.
“We have had a great relationship with CDR for many years,” Smith says. “Though we always take our insurance needs to multiple markets, CDR is always competitive and their service is unparalleled in the industry. We value the relationship.”
Prestige Hospitality continually refines its systems, develops personnel and partners with valuable suppliers that that will allow it to realize future expansion.
“I see us being a large player in the world of third-party hospitality management companies,” Smith says. “I think we bring a great approach to managing hotels and are very involved with a boots-on-the-ground mentality. We don’t believe in inundating people with paperwork and checklists, but we are firm on making sure we are productive, efficient and achieving the goals we’ve outlined in our annual business plans. We’re very good at what we do, which is evidenced by our growth and our reputation so I would expect to see Prestige growing to multiple markets.”