By Paul Breslin
Fasten your seatbelts and take note of who’s driving. The roads are sure to be full of tight curves, sharp turns and speed traps. The role of an asset manager today is changing at record speed and owners expect their asset managers to keep the pace. The asset manager role is more active and hands-on than ever before, and thus the choice of asset manager is also so much more important today.
At the start, it is all about R&R — not rest and relaxation but rather Roles & Responsibilities. That’s what drives our passion, we serve as the owner’s representative, which is a tremendous task in and of itself.
At the recent Hunter Hotel Investment Conference held in Atlanta, I had the pleasure of hosting a panel with some of the finest leaders in the industry – asset manager members of HAMA, the Hotel Asset Managers Association. The esteemed panelists included: Steven Nichols, Principal of Noble Investment Group; Melissa Silver, Principal, SCS Advisors Inc.; Lawrence Trabulsi, Senior Vice President, Asset Management, CHMWarnick. and Gary Isenberg, President of LW Hospitality Advisors’ Asset and Property Management Services;
Our topic of discussion revolved around the idea of what matters most for successful asset managers and how the very best among us actually get it right. We had a lot of fun and our panelists were insightful. Here are five key takeaways that may help or inspire an asset manager today:
1. Diamonds in the Rough – Asset Managers are focusing on everything from safety, top-line revenue, market share and how to maximize NOI. Some important questions for asset managers to ask themselves: Who in my network can be helpful to meet the challenges? What are the key strategies? How do I tackle the “big rocks” – the overarching themes? What gets measured, gets done. Be wise with your precious time; be sure to invest first on what matters most to bring about the meaningful results.
2. Mining for Gold – The experts shared how they dig for golden opportunities. When they do find that nugget, they explore it completely to capitalize on the total value. For example, when you find that key corporate account and win the business, see what else exists either in the group segment or with sister companies. How can you win the catering too? The HAMA experts shared secrets of how to “mine those top accounts” and build on strengths to find more gold. They even gave us an insight into how they are growing their portfolios, acquiring more properties, serving the best clients, driving results from within, and listening to the voice of the customer.
3. Casting the Talent – Yes finding and developing the human talent is of utmost importance, perhaps even the priority. Leading the team to demonstrate effective skills are important but that character and core values are the foundation for successful leaders. The top-level asset managers find themselves participating in the talent search, from setting the bar high to supporting the team with resources and innovation. Interestingly, to find the right management talent, it’s a 360-degree approach; going beyond just recruiting the general manager and Director of Sales.
4. Be the Brand – The topic of brands sparked serious discussion. The very best brands see the value in a well-informed and participatory owner; and the brands recognize that good ones (owners) are difficult to find. The asset manager today is invested in the brand, so much as to “be the brand.” The hotel owners will and should take full advantage of the brand offerings, programs, tools and resources. A strong brand is a fantastic resource that one can leverage into more satisfied guests.
5. The “PEST” in the room – Macro-environmental trends impact all aspects of our operation of the property, and these include the Political, Economic, Social, and Technological trends. No question the US administration comes into play. As for the economy, most of the asset management experts on the panel were very optimistic, encouraging continued activity in both selling and buying of hotels. As for trends that are “social,” the advice was to step up and serve, to be active and to help those that help you. Be an active learner from those before us, and remember what we have learned. And finally, the panelists advised to stay current with technology. Focus on what matters most with meaningful results, and be aware of what will change very soon. Look for how technology changes the way we operate, which may mean trying some recommendations, but not all.
Some final thoughts from the Hunter Conference include keeping the owner relevant. While data still has its importance and place, the HAMA panelists preached the need to make the commitment to help the future asset managers and the next generation of leaders. It is all about our rising stars.