SAN DIEGO—The 2019 My Place Hotels of America Convention yesterday kicked off here at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, with President/CEO Ryan Rivett welcoming several hundred attendees to the event’s first general session, highlighting the company’s growth over the past five years and its plans to grow further and faster in the future.
The relatively new hotel chain currently encompasses 45 properties, with another opening slated just days away and number 50 expected to arrive by the end of the summer, notwithstanding any major construction delays.
“I’m excited about that milestone to see 50 properties open and operating, but I know that going from 50 to 100 is going to happen twice as fast as the first few, maybe even more,” Rivett told the crowd, He noted there are 16 additional properties under construction or in pre-construction within the 21 states where My Place has a presence.
The Aberdeen, SD-based company plans to expand its footprint, and currently is experiencing its most-active franchise sales in the Southwest and Southeast.
The company also is growing in terms of performance fundamentals. Occupancy and RevPAR at year-end 2018 were up chainwide 8.5 percent and 15 percent, respectively, according to Rivett, and also has increased its recognition factor on social media.
In his opening speech, Rivett highlighted a range of statistics. On social media, he said the company has reached 20 million people in the last 12 months, received 558,000 total engagements and had more than 200,000 followers. On Facebook, the company saw more than a 300 percent return on investment.
Rivett said the company has put special work into converting OTA and third-party booking-engine traffic to its own website. Those efforts translated to a 32 percent increase in revenue coming through My Place’s website. “That’s a big success for the marketing team, for the sales team, for the social media team and all the people that go out ahead of the hotels and the hotel staff themselves,” said Rivett.
On TripAdvisor, the CEO said 95 percent of reviews receive a response from on-site management. Though he touted the statistic as representative of the brand’s relationship with its guests, he also told Hotel Management the attention can reveal trends the company can then follow up on with an on-site visit to a particular property.
In addition to expanding regionally, My Place is continuing to explore value adds for both its franchisees and guests. For example, the chain has been improving the stays of long-haul truckers by creating rooms designed to give them more privacy, since drivers frequently must share rooms with other truckers they may not know,
“What we found was there were people that wouldn’t stay in the motel down the street where they’d been putting them,” said Rivett. Though the company would pay for their hotel room, these drivers chose to sleep in their trucks, in the terminal lobby or in a hotel room they would pay for themselves. To better accommodate and attract this group, My Place shifted the guest bathroom to the center of the room to give each trucker more privacy and personal space.
My Place originally planned for 50 of the hotel’s 85 rooms to be occupied by truckers. When the program launched, the trucking company's stays rose on average from 50 to 80 rooms occupied.
"The product actually increased demand immediately,” Rivett told Hotel Management.
My Place franchisees a modern mix
From doctors and lawyers to those who’ve been in hospitality for 45 years, My Place’s franchisees are coming from a variety of backgrounds and,Terry Kline, EVP/franchise development told Hotel Management, an estimated 60 percent sign more than one property agreement
One of these franchisees, Randal Bender, who has My Place properties in Missoula, Mont. and North Las Vegas, Nev., said he currently has two to three projects he plans on doing with the extended-stay chain. “I’ve had very, very good success with the two properties I own at this point. I don’t see any reason to go another direction."
As the company gains mass and enters larger markets in 2019 and 2020, Rivett told Hotel Management he expects My Place will begin seeing the entrance of larger portfolio operators, the only group he said My Place has yet to tap into.