Originally appeared in Denver Business Journal in January, 2020
After three prolific years in which the Denver area added some 9,000 hotel rooms, 2020 will represent a pause in which operators can catch their breath and re-examine the effects of all this growth on occupancy and average daily rate.
But it will only be a short pause until one of America’s hottest hospitality markets erupts again.
Bob Benton, a consultant specializing in market conditions and new development, said he can foresee as many as 4,000 new rooms that could come onto the market starting in 2021 after a total that is expected to be closer to 1,500 this year — though Benton emphasized that he thinks a number of those planned projects will hit delays or fall away in the next two years. The new wave of hotel development ranges from the 17-room Life House scheduled to open early this year in Denver’s Highland neighborhood to a 525-room Marriott near the Colorado Convention Center that will give a significant boost to Visit Denver’s efforts to attract large events when it debuts around mid-2022.
>In many markets, this flood of new projects might look more like a tsunami creeping in to drown existing businesses. But Denver has done an amazing job of meeting the new construction with commensurate new demand.
Chris Manley — chief operating officer for Denver-based Stonebridge Companies, which owns or operates about 60 hotel properties nationwide and has two in the pipeline over the next three years in Denver — noted that the supply of hotel rooms in the Denver market increased by about 7% in 2019, a figure that tripled the national average, including the addition of 1,501 rooms at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora. Despite that crush of new rooms, occupancy in Denver-area hotels rose 0.7% to 76.1%, average daily rate jumped 1.6% to $148.27 and the all-important statistic of revenue per available room increased 2.3% to $112.89 through the first 11 months of 2019, according to figures compiled for the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association by Robert S. Benton & Associates and other firms.
“This is not just a rush to develop in a hot city. The fundamentals in Denver of lodging are as good as in any city right now.” Manley said. “It’s a strong and healthy market. It’s in balance. The market could absorb a lot.”
Supply, demand and rates
Denver, like many cities, fell behind on hotel supply in the early part of the past decade because financing for large projects dried up during the Great Recession. Much of the development of recent years has focused on the increasing throngs of leisure seekers who are joining business travelers and convention-goers coming into downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, leading to new projects from the AC by Marriott/Le Méridien downtown to the Kimpton Hotel Born beside Denver Union Station to the Ramble and Source hotels that became the first lodging facilities in the River North Art District area.
While hotels have attracted more and more customers through this wave, the rise in average daily rate, which typically has been just a couple of percentage points per year, hasn’t been as high as in past decades when the economy was good and demand for rooms went up, Benton said. Many hotel operators, wanting to maintain their market share in a competitive environment that includes an onslaught of alternatives like Airbnb, have opted to keep rate increases down for today’s more price-sensitive visitors and to accept slightly lower profit margins, he explained.
This year — which features no planned openings other than the Life House in Denver as developers concentrate on filling in suburban supply in growing areas like Aurora, Thornton and Westminster — should allow the market to increase average daily rate between 2% and 3%, Benton predicted in his 2019 Mid-Year Market Review.
The next two years
But the new-hotel-producing spigots will come back on in 2021. Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE: H) will open its first Thompson hotel, a lauded urban brand, in the Denver market. Stonebridge will convert the former Emily Griffith Opportunity School across Welton Street from the convention center into a 250-room unique setting. The new World Trade Center Denver complex near 38th and Walnut streets is expected to include a 240-room hotel upon its opening.
Then in 2022, if all goes as planned, the downtown Marriott will add another facility adjacent to the convention center. Sonder will develop its first hybrid short-term rental facility that functions like a hotel. And Stonebridge plans a hotel adjacent to the Belleview Station Regional Transportation District stop that could give a boost to the southern end of town.
Tony Dunn, general manager of the Sheraton Denver Downtown and chairman of the CHLA board, said that Visit Denver has done a fantastic job of attracting events to the city that help to fill these rooms, leading to what could be a record year for many hotels in 2020. But even as he completes a roughly $80 million renovation of his property over the course of this year, he said that what could be needed the most are more very large hotels in the core of the city — ones like the planned Marriott, he admitted, that would compete directly with his property.
Bringing in even larger hotels could help Denver win more of the 10,000- to 15,000-attendee conventions that it often loses to cities like Chicago or San Diego because they have large numbers of massive hotels that can absorb huge blocks of conventioneers, Dunn said. While more hotels come online in the range of 250 to 400 rooms, the city needs differentiators that can appeal to planners of major events, he said.
Riding the wave
Still, Benton, Dunn and Manley all agree that Denver is nowhere close to reaching a bubble as far as hotel rooms go. The increasing leisure crowd, for instance, has created a new market for independent and soft-branded hotels that are more popular than corporate chains with younger travelers who want an experience unique to a city more than they want points to build up for future trips, Benton said.
And, thus, the hotel wave is, in some ways, an opportunity to attract even more people to a city that ranks consistently as one of the most aspirational urban destinations in America for travelers. Just ask Dunn, who will need to compete against an increasing trove of competitors to fill up his 1,231 rooms by the time his renovations are complete — and is looking forward to it.
“Every time we hear the economy is slowing down, it keeps surprising us. Denver is strong,” he said. “There’s still a ton of groups who haven’t been here yet who are still intrigued by it … So, I still think it’s a great story.”
Stonebridge Emily Griffith Opportunity School renovation
Address: 1250 Welton St. (Central Business District)
Expected opening: Early 2021
The story: Stonebridge Companies is transforming a (since-moved) school launched in 1916 for the purpose of providing technical education to underserved students into a mixed-use campus with a hotel, retail and office space. The $96.5 million project will preserve the historic building, maintaining the wide hallways of its school days and constructing the hotel fitness center to resemble a classic gymnasium.
By: Ed Sealover
Originally appeared in Biz New Orleans in January, 2020
Stonebridge Companies, a Denver-based, privately owned hotel owner, operator and developer, in partnership with an affiliate of Walton Street Capital LLC, has acquired the 410-room Le Meridien New Orleans hotel. The acquisition is the group’s third in the New Orleans market and second in just over 12 months, having purchased the Embassy Suites by Hilton New Orleans in late 2018.
The building at 333 Poydras Street debuted in 1984 as a Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza and has gone through several owners and name changes since. From 2000 to 2014, it was the W New Orleans Hotel.
Le Meridien is near Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street and the Warehouse District. It’s a full-service upscale hotel offers modern guest rooms and suites with sophisticated amenities, including boutique furnishings and destination-inspired artwork, and boasts a 24-hour fitness center, rooftop pool, onsite restaurants with all-day dining, a business center and more than 13,000 square feet of event space.
“The acquisition of our first Le Meridien brand hotel and an additional property in New Orleans is a fantastic complement to our growing portfolio of more than 60 hotels and reinforces our position as an industry leader in hotel development, ownership and management,” said Navin C. Dimond, founder, president and CEO of Stonebridge Companies. “New Orleans is truly a great American city, and Le Meridien is ideally located for both leisure and business travelers alike visiting downtown New Orleans.”
Stonebridge Companies’ portfolio of 63 hotels and more than 10,000 guest rooms includes select-service, extended-stay, mid-scale and full-service hotels stretching from Boston to Anchorage, Alaska to Southern California.
Originally appeared in Hotel Management in January, 2020
A variety of factors can impact hotel guests and their decision about where to book hotel reservations, none more so than their experience while staying at a hotel. Cost, brand loyalty, location and amenities all influence a guest’s choice, but a poor experience or encounter can quickly send a guest looking elsewhere for his or her hotel needs.
Hoteliers can see their property from the guest’s perspective through the annual quality-assurance inspection of the hotel, a benchmark for assessing guest satisfaction. Despite the stress or anxiety the process may cause hotel proprietors, an audit of a hotel’s service, standards, cleanliness and conditions highlights what the brand is supposed to provide to guests—there’s a direct correlation between a hotel’s audit score and its guest satisfaction score.
It’s important to perform well on a QA inspection audit. Not only is it proof of a staff’s commitment to the high standards put in place by a hotel and its brand, but it also translates to positive guest experiences. Those positive experiences ultimately justify a higher rate than competing area hotels and lead to a better bottom line for owners. For example, touting high QA inspection scores can make an impact when the sales team is working to close deals with large organizations.
Because a property receives no indication or advance notice of when an inspection will occur, there’s no immediate preparation involved. But there are some simple strategies a hotel and its staff can implement to be equipped for when the eventual audit does take place.
Read on for some tips to employ in an effort to ace your hotel’s next QA inspection.
Know and Maintain Brand Standards Year-Round
Operating to and maintaining brand standards year-round and never deviating from the hotel brand’s specifications are the keys to scoring well on your property’s next QA audit.
All brands have standards and criteria for everything inside their hotels, down to where to place certain items within the hotel room, and those standards are outlined and published in a manual or booklet that should be referenced frequently. Don’t lose easy points during an audit because of an incorrect uniform or missing name tag.
Keep the audit top-of-mind and reference it frequently throughout the year to ensure standards are being met. If a hotel’s entire team operates as if every day is QA, attention to detail will naturally follow suit and will become the rule rather than the exception.
And if by chance your hotel has already undergone its QA inspection, don’t allow that to invite a relaxed standard the remainder of the year. It’s much easier to maintain a high standard than to reintroduce one.
Train and Inform Team Members and Candidates
Properly training team members and informing them of standards and expectations will help them to know what is required and will ensure consistency from department to department.
The same can be said when interviewing candidates and choosing new hires. During the interview process, it’s important to communicate as to what standards you run your hotel. Top-operating hotels with high guest satisfaction scores attract strong candidates. At a time when unemployment is low and it’s difficult to find high-quality applicants, your hotel’s turnover rate will decrease and remain low because the property is well-run.
Create a Service Culture
Creating a service culture is something a hotel should do regardless of whether a QA inspection is expected. In the same way that brand standards should be maintained year-round, so too should a hotel and its staff provide excellent customer service.
To avoid and limit opportunities for unsatisfactory experiences, rooms should be regularly inspected. Overall cleanliness, dead batteries in TV remote controls and burnt-out light bulbs are examples of items that should be routinely checked.
Simple things like training associates, regardless of role or position, to make eye contact in the hallways or to give a guest the same answer to a question also go a long way. Role playing with team members is a good way to ensure standards are put into practice.
Hotel guest interactions are thoroughly evaluated during a QA inspection. These interactions can include the check-in process, housekeeping requests and a call to the front desk. Points are easily lost if team members aren’t attentive and responsive in a timely manner.
Respect the Audit Process
A hotel’s leadership knows in advance which paperwork the auditor will want to review, so prove a commitment to standards by regularly updating the paperwork to be ready at a moment’s notice. This practice helps the auditor to see that you respect the audit process by being as prepared as you can be.
Further, having the known variables prepared in advance supports the team should the audit fall during a less-than-ideal time, such as when the general manager is out of the office.
Celebrate and Recognize Success
Performing well on a QA inspection isn’t the result of the work of one person, but rather a hotel’s entire team. And that achievement is something that should be celebrated, whether commended at a team meeting, during an appreciation lunch or through incentives.
The recognition and results help associates to understand the audit process and its importance and reiterate the need for training and attention to detail when upholding a brand’s standards.
Your next QA inspection doesn’t have to be the nerve-racking and trying experience it might have been in years past. Instead, apply these best practices and operate as if every day is QA, and your hotel will pass with ease.
John Chisman is the GM of the Residence Inn by Marriott Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard and Greg Dietl is the GM of the Residence Inn by Marriott New York Manhattan/Midtown East. Both hotels are owned by Stonebridge Companies, a privately owned hotel owner, operator and developer headquartered in Denver.
By: John Chisman, Residence Inn by Marriott Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard & Greg Dietl, Residence Inn by Marriott New York Manhattan/Midtown East
Originally appeared in Business Den in January, 2020
Get ready for more construction fencing.
On Tuesday, BusinessDen highlighted major developments in Denver that are expected to be completed in 2020.
Today, we start looking at what’s coming next.
Here are nine major office projects expected to break ground within city limits this year (and one maybe). You’ll notice RiNo is a hotspot.
The Current, River North (RiNo)
Bellevue, Washington-based Schnitzer West expects to break ground in February on a 12-story office building at the corner of 36th Avenue and Delgany Street in RiNo, according to a company representative.
The building has been dubbed The Current, River North.
Plans for The Current call for two levels of underground parking and ground-floor retail space topped by three more levels of parking. Offices will be on floors five through 12. The top two floors also will feature tenant amenities, including a rooftop terrace.
One Platte (LoHi)
Denver-based Nichols Partnership expects to break ground in February on a five-story office building in the 1700 block of Platte Street, according to a company official.
Dubbed One Platte, the building is slated to have about 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, topped with about 240,000 square feet of office space spread across just four floors.
Nichols developed the four-story office building nearby at 1644 Platte St.
Stonebridge Project (DTC)
Denver-based Stonebridge Cos. plans to break ground in the first quarter on an 18-story building in the Denver Tech Center’s Belleview Station area, according to a company representative.
Development plans call for five floors of hotel rooms, approximately 236 rooms in all, topped by 11 stories of office space. There will be retail, restaurant and lobby space on the ground floor. The company declined to provide a rendering.
Denver-based Koelbel & Co. expects to break ground in the second quarter on Watershed, a 12-story office building in the 3500 block of Brighton Boulevard, according to an executive.
It will be adjacent to Catalyst, an office building that Koelbel completed last year.
The Watershed building will have about 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, three floors of parking and 167,000 square feet of office space on its upper five floors. It will be taller than Catalyst, and feature about 10,000 square feet of patio and deck space — not included in the 167,000 figure — at the rear of the office floors, looking west over the Platte River.
Gym TruFusion has leased a portion of the retail space.
Paradigm River North (RiNo)
Jordon Perlmutter & Co. plans to build an eight-story office building dubbed Paradigm River North at 3400 Walnut St.
The project likely will be shovel-ready as early as the spring, according to a Perlmutter executive. It will replace a self-storage facility.
Plans call for 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and 192,000 square feet of office space.
World Trade Center (RiNo)
Denver-based Formativ and Chicago-based Golub & Co. expect to break ground on the office component of World Trade Center Denver by RiNo’s 38th and Blake station in the second quarter, according to a Formativ executive.
The hotel component of the project, which Formativ is developing with Memphis-based Kemmons Wilson Cos., is expected to break ground around the same time. Demolition of existing structures at the site is slated for the first quarter.
Gates District at Broadway Station (Baker)
Austin, Texas-based Endeavor Real Estate Group and Denver-based Legend Partners expect to break ground this summer on the first two buildings at Gates District at Broadway Station, according to an Endeavor executive.
One of the buildings will have approximately 200,000 square feet of office space. The second will be apartments.
Gates District will be a mixed-use development at the northwest corner of Broadway and Mississippi Avenue, where a Gates rubber factory once stood.
The total master plan calls for 887 residential units, 380,000 square feet of office space, and 180,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space in a five-building layout.
Broe Project (Cherry Creek)
Denver- based Broe Real Estate Group is looking to break ground in late summer on two new office buildings in the 200 block of Clayton Street in Cherry Creek, according to an executive.
Development plans show that Broe wants to demolish the existing two-story structures at 200 and 210 Clayton St., and build an eight-story structure with 5,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 67,800 square feet of office space above that.
Broe would leave the adjacent four-story structure it owns at 216 Clayton St., according to the plans. But it would demolish the two-story parking garage it owns to the north of that, and build another seven-story structure with 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 31,890 square feet of office space.
Riverpoint expansion (LoHi)
Texas-based Crescent Real Estate expects to break ground in the fourth quarter on a sizable expansion to Riverpoint, the existing office building at 2300 15th St., according to a representative.
The project, which involves adding a floor to the building and constructing on the parking lot behind it, will expand the complex to 196,000 square feet, from 54,000 square feet now.
Maybe: Train (RiNo)
Denver-based Invent Development Partners and New York-based partner Halpern Real Estate Ventures hope to break ground on their project dubbed Train near RiNo’s 38th and Blake station in either the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021, according to an Invent executive.
Like the aforementioned World Trade Center and Stonebridge projects, Train isn’t strictly an office building. Plans call for hundreds of hotel rooms and an entertainment venue. But 275,000 square feet of office space is slated to occupy one tower planned for the block formed by Walnut, 40th and Blake streets.
What’s not on here?
Texas-based Hines declined to provide an estimate of when it expects to break ground on its planned six-story, 250,000-square-foot T3 office building at 3500 Blake St.
By: Thomas Gounley
Discover the mystique and vibrant charisma of New Orleans from our ideally located hotel in the heart of downtown at Le Méridien New Orleans. Thoroughly modern and brimming with upscale amenities, our boutique hotel seamlessly blends European heritage with a contemporary sense of style, inspiring relaxation and creativity. You’ll find our hotel in a quiet section of NOLA, yet steps away from the legendary French Quarter and the renowned Arts District. This allows for true relaxation in our hotel’s beautifully-appointed rooms and suites with boutique furnishings, destination-inspired artwork, and plush, pillowtop bedding. Our exceptional downtown hotel also boasts a stunning rooftop pool, a 24-hour fitness center and delightful onsite restaurants with all-day dining. If business or social events bring you to our hotel, you’ll be delighted with our sophisticated venues, custom catering and exemplary business services. We look forward to greeting you soon for your memorable stay at Le Méridien New Orleans.
Le Méridien New Orleans
333 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Hotel Phone: 504-525-9444
Hotel Fax: 504-581-7179
Originally appeared in Hotel Management in December, 2019
Denver-based Stonebridge Cos. promoted two of its employees and brought on eight new associates for various leadership roles. The appointments include several new general managers and sales leaders, as well as a cluster revenue manager on its corporate team.
Stonebridge promoted Brian Leiker, a 19-year hospitality veteran, to GM of the 230-room Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel. Leiker has been with the company for 13 years and most recently served as GM of the 302-room, dual-branded Homewood Suites by Hilton/Hampton Inn & Suites Denver Downtown-Convention Center.
The company also promoted Michael Cranor, who has been with the company for more than 11 years, to cluster revenue manager on its corporate team. In his new role, Cranor will focus on maximizing revenue at the company’s growing Denver International Airport cluster.
Stonebridge additionally welcomed four new GMs in recent months: Erik Mendoza at the Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco Airport North in South San Francisco.; Randie Mallory at the Residence Inn by Marriott Denver Cherry Creek; Chris Tolbertson at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Loveland (Colo.)/Fort Collins; and Pratik Amin at the Hyatt Place Fort Lee (N.J.)/George Washington Bridge.
Stonebridge also expanded its property-level sales teams with four other appointments: Emily Renn as area director of sales for its three Anchorage, Ala., hotels, Matthew King as director of sales and marketing at the Residence Inn by Marriott Seattle Downtown/Convention Center, Kate Thompson as director of sales and marketing at the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel and Samira Machado as director of sales at the Hyatt Place Fort Lee/George Washington Bridge.
Stonebridge Cos. is a privately owned hotel owner, operator and developer. Its portfolio includes more than 60 hotels with more than 10,500 guestrooms.
By: Chuck Dobrosielski
Originally appeared in Denver Business Journal in November, 2019
Six years after Stonebridge Companies debuted the first dual-branded hotel in Denver, it is opening another such facility in the downtown area today — one that incorporates improvements it learned from its first attempt at a style of hotel that is becoming more popular as developers seek to achieve a maximum return on investment for high-priced land in space-limited urban cores.
The Tru by Hilton/Home2 Suites by Hilton Denver Downtown Convention Center located on the corner of 15th and Stout streets includes 382 total rooms, 3,300 square feet of meeting space and a Tempo Bar that officials hope will become a gathering place both for hotel guests and for people heading out to a nearby Denver Center for the Performing Arts play or Denver Nuggets game. It also has a shared front desk, a shared lobby and shared breakfast space — common areas for patrons of both brands that came about as a result of six years of learning in the Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites hotel that sits just two blocks southeast of it.
When that facility opened in 2013, the Denver-headquartered company attempted to differentiate the two brands by having separate check-in stations and separate food areas that it felt would reflect the different sensibilities of customers who tended to frequent the brands, both of which are owned by Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HLT). What it found, though, was that the initial set-up could cause confusion or even frustration among customers, who just wanted to get to their rooms or grab their waffles, said Brandyn Gibson, who helped to open that first experiment and serves as the director of sales and marketing for the new hotel.
Like that 6-year-old hotel, Stonebridge’s newest venture combines a pair of Hilton brands that tend to attract different crowds. Tru offers rooms of about 200 square feet and an expansive lobby, making it popular with younger travelers who are looking to spend as little time as possible where they sleep and want to mingle in a common area and then get out into the city. Home2 Suites is an extended stay property with a kitchen in each room and facilities like washing machines for business or leisure travelers planning to stay for more than a day or two.
Bundling the brands should help the property, whose construction costs officials declined to reveal, to cast a wider net and draw a bigger crowd — both transient travelers here for a business meeting or extended weekend, and conventioneers or contract workers coming to the city for a week or more, dual general manager Scott Perry said in an interview. And that is key at a time when new hotels are opening in downtown Denver about every few months, making the competition for guests that much more intense.
“It just provides us more flexibility with our travelers. It gives us appeal to more travelers,” Perry said. “For our location, we’re not just relevant for one segment of guests, so we’re not going to be afraid to do what we can to bring in everyone.”
While floors eight through 21 house guest rooms, much of the seventh floor is taken up by a ballroom that can be divided into two segments, a boardroom meeting area and a pre-function area that provides mingling space for groups planning events there. Gibson said he expects the meeting areas to host small conferences and corporate gatherings more than the weddings that other downtown hotels rely on for revenue, but with an open view of the downtown area and the mountains beyond, he believes some office and other parties will find the space appealing as well.
Hotel officials did a semi-surprising dry run on the facility Tuesday night, as they offered to let sales personnel and other staffers spend the night there rather than require them to drive home in the snowstorm and come back early the next morning. Perry said it served as a testing opportunity for everything from using room amenities to learning which breakfast-buffet items were popular and which ones weren’t.
“I’m glad I was the first person in my room, because sometimes you see things better from the guest perspective,” noted Perry, who tried all of the gadgets and learned what was easy to work and what wasn’t. “It’s a fun experience, running up and down the halls. It’s the last time we can scream in the night here, I guess.”
By: Ed Sealover
Say wow to Tru by Hilton Denver Downtown Convention Center, in the mix of it all near the theatre district, Larimer Square, and tons of dining and shops. Our smaller, more efficiently designed rooms feature a great bed with crisp linens, a large HDTV with premium channels and a big, bright bathroom with Not Soap, Radio products.
Start your day with a complimentary fresh, hot breakfast with a variety of selections. When the munchies hit, stop by our 24/7 market for local treats, gourmet snacks and single serve wine and beer. Stop by, Tempo, our full service bar and have a drink.
Hang out in our big lobby, with space to eat, work and play. Grab a board game and play with friends, work in the semi-private alcoves and keep your devices charged with plenty of outlets. Our modern fitness center lets you keep up your routine, and you can enjoy free WiFi and wireless printing throughout the hotel.
Affordable travel now comes with unexpected things – like certainty.
Tru by Hilton – Denver Downtown
801 15th St
Denver, CO 80202
Hotel Phone: 303-753-1201
Hotel Fax: 303-753-1202
Stay a while at our new, vibrant Home2 Suites by Hilton Denver Downtown Convention Center hotel, ideally located just one block from the Colorado Convention Center. Enjoy being within walking distance of the theatre district, tons of restaurants and the 16th Street Mall. We are just minutes from Coors Field, Mile High Stadium, the Denver Zoo and much more.
Spread out in a spacious studio or two-room suite, perfect for extended stays. There’s plenty of storage space, moveable furniture and a fully equipped in-suite kitchen with full-size refrigerator. Rest well on the great bed, lounge on the sofa bed and watch the HDTV or stay productive at the desk. Each suite also includes free WiFi, and all are pet-friendly.
Start the day with a tasty free, hot breakfast of fresh waffles, breakfast sandwiches, fruit and more. Fresh coffee and hot tea are available 24/7 in our Oasis, and you can pick up a snack or beverage at our Home2 MKT® anytime. Enjoy free printing in our business services areas and keep up your routine in our fitness center.
Home2 Suites – Denver Downtown
801 15th St
Denver, CO 80202
Hotel Phone: 303-759-1301
Hotel Fax: 303-759-1302
Originally appeared in Lodging Magazine in October, 2019
It is no secret that the hospitality industry—like many others—is facing a “war for talent.” Combine the low unemployment rate and tight labor market with the industry’s booming growth, and the demands on today’s hotels are stronger than ever.
These challenges are especially daunting within a market where one dominant hospitality employer is the tourist destination—the Anaheim/Garden Grove market, where Disneyland is king.
In markets with this dynamic—like Anaheim’s counterpart in Orlando with Walt Disney World Resort or Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas—hotels can benefit from the draw created by the hospitality giant. Opportunity is plentiful in Anaheim. The market never stops growing, and is often isolated from issues and seasonality that can be commonplace elsewhere. Disneyland draws strong tourism demand throughout the year. In turn, the distinct culture in Anaheim, mixed with the steady employment opportunities, attracts an exceptional level of talent.
But with this also comes intense competition. So, how can hotels leverage these dynamics to tap into the talent pool? The simple answer is: culture.
Workplace Culture is Key
A hospitality giant like Disney has risen to its preeminence due in large part to its engaging culture. So, culture should be a similarly strong—if not greater—focus for competitors.
Bringing to life a sincere and relatable mission is one of the most critical efforts a hotelier can employ. This mission should not just be words on paper; it should live in every nook of the property. Words—and actions—matter. If team members hear about the value they bring to the hotel and the role they play in the guest experience, this messaging leaves an impression, much more so than a property that speaks to its bottom line. If hotels are meeting their standards for guest experiences, financial success is sure to follow.
Leverage the Hotel Brand & Local Culture
Tapping into the hotel’s brand provides a unique offering that distinguishes a property from the “Disneylands” of the market. Being able to tout a renowned brand like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, or IHG sends a strong statement to associates.
Blending the hotel’s brand into the market can create an engaging workplace dynamic that resonates with team members at the local level. For example, “good neighbor” hotels can mix the Disney magic into their properties in a meaningful way that is “close to the action, without the distraction.” Popcorn movie nights screening Disney films in the lobby or Disney-themed selfie stations enhance the guest experience by leveraging Anaheim culture while remaining separate from the peak hustle and bustle in the core of Disneyland. This work environment resonates well with team members who, living near Anaheim, often embrace the Disney culture.
Recruit with a Focus on Retention
It is important to view candidates in terms of their potential to develop into long-term associates through proper development. Most often, properties will find success by hiring for personality over skill set. When team members display characteristics that embody a company’s values, the firm should invest in the associates by supporting their career development, showing they’re a top priority.
This cultural effort is especially critical in a market like Anaheim, where properties see a significant amount of movement within the talent pool. Candidates are often happy within the market, thanks to the distinctive culture it offers, but they may frequently move among properties. The likelihood of this “property hopping” increases when team members don’t feel a distinct connection to the hotel or manager, and have a plethora of competing hotels to which they can apply.
Should the hospitality firm own several properties in the market, the firm has a distinct opportunity to heighten team member development. By coordinating their talent needs, a hotel network can offer additional training or advancement opportunities beyond what a single property could provide. When working in tandem, co-located properties can scale their offerings to compete effectively in the market.
Turn the Internal Wins into External Buzz
Once a hotel has developed a strong internal culture and program, it should be promoted heavily to external audiences. People want to work at an exciting company. Social media, community promotions, and word of mouth should all be present in a hotel’s recruitment strategy.
Clearly, hotels can learn many lessons from those who succeed in markets with a single hospitality giant.
Richard Auer, Ashley Lopez and Alfredo Sanedrin are the general managers of Stonebridge Companies’ Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites and Hilton Garden Inn properties in Anaheim/Garden Grove, Calif.
By: Richard Auer, Ashley Lopez and Alfredo Sanedrin