The timing of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in January makes it an ideal time to get a handle on what companies are expecting for the year ahead. Michael Deitemeyer, president and CEO of Aimbridge Hospitality, has no doubt that 2023 will involve continued growth for the management company, which has more than 1,500 properties in its portfolio.
“Our focus every day is how do we get better at what we do,” he said. “We've invested in a lot of talent, we've rolled out our new divisions and our structure, continuing to bring in new leaders and promoting internal leaders into a space that sets us up to better serve our owners.”
All of these moves, Deitemeyer said, will help Aimbridge grow in multiple ways.
“One big part of that growth is growing with owners that we already work with and we continue to lean into,” he said. “I expect a year of growth coming not just from transactional-related growth, but also coming from growth with owners that we've continued to perform for. No. 2, whenever there's a pause or uncertain time like this, our strategy is to lean into it and use it as an opportunity to continue to invest in ways we think will set us up as a market turns forward. Our new business development structure, where we're product category- [and geography-]specific is a pivot from what we were doing before because we think that's going to give us better market intel; it's going to allow us to better serve our owners who are buying and and investing. That's a pivot that, all things considered, we think would lead to incremental market share anyways, so even [with] a slower market from transactions we expect to see some level of growth coming from that.”
Aimbridge has properties in more than 20 countries and will continue to explore new geographies.
“Mexico is [a place] we went into 18 months ago, and we've got a 50 percent increase in [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] coming out of Mexico,” Deitemeyer said. Because that investment led to having institutional-quality management in Mexico, Aimbridge—“as really the only U.S. third-party manager who has a scale there”—has seen “disproportionate growth” in the region. “So we're going to continue to lean into things like that as well.”
Deitemeyer has been vocal about issues the hotel issue has been facing in regard to labor, and he said Aimbridge is being very intentional about hiring to make sure the right people are in the right positions—and that they see a future with the company.
“We're bringing an understanding of the type of people [that fit] the profile of a general manager that works in this category versus [a different category],” he said. “That's on the hiring side. The other piece that we continue to lean into is how do we give those people career paths so that they're stickier to us and they can grow with us. Everything starts with understanding the uniqueness of these investments that our folks are making and the skills that our people have. Once you know that it becomes easier to career path people, develop people, and it becomes easier to help our owners.”
That message resonates with owners, Deitemeyer said, with many of them being very complimentary about how dedicated and focused their teams are to their assets.
“We are committed to not just being the biggest but being best-in-class, and that means that we are leaning into talent, investment, owner satisfaction, career pathing and development,” he said. “Those are the things that are going to make us sustainable and have a lasting legacy. And that's really our primary focus.”
Also during ALIS, the company shared its Aimbridge Accelerates report, which details moves it made in 2022 and previews what to expect in 2023.
Events that made 2022 a standout year for the hospitality management company included:
- The conversion to six vertical and geographically focused operating divisions, intended to refocus deep industry expertise and deploy dedicated resources to better serve owners.
- Evolution of the leadership team, highlighted by adding Mark Tamis, president, global operations; Allison Reid, chief global growth officer; and Mark Chloupek, chief legal officer.
- Continued growth of the entire Aimbridge team, with an active headcount of more than 55,500 and expanding, with specialized training opportunities and $320,000 distributed to associates in need throughout 2022 through the company’s 501(c)(3) charitable arm Aimbridge Aid.
- Portfolio growth—today Aimbridge’s portfolio includes more than 1,500 properties (inclusive of pipeline) in all 50 U.S. states and over 20 countries.
“The result of launching our new divisional structure in 2022 was a game changer across our entire company, with far-reaching impacts across all business divisions, departments and geographies, and elevating our owner experience leading to increased satisfaction and powerful results,” Tamis said. “Our focus for 2023 includes identifying ways we can inspire our people and create an elevated level of flexibility within the industry, which we know is going to make Aimbridge the hospitality employer of choice throughout the United States and around the world.”
On Aimbridge's agenda in 2023 is:
1. Implementation of its global growth plan, led by a reimagined and restructured business development group. The new structure of this group, formalized in January, aligns with the six operating divisions and is designed to enable best-in-class understanding of markets, brands, brokers, owners and performance. The five business development leaders overseeing dedicated groups and reporting to Allison Reid are:
- Dan Thorman, SVP, development (East, Evolution Lifestyle and Aimbridge Full-Service Divisions)
- Kathleen Hollis, SVP, development (West, Evolution Lifestyle and Aimbridge Full-Service Divisions)
- Adrienne Jubb, SVP, development (West, Select Service Enhanced and Select Service Divisions)
- Justin Magazine, SVP, development (East, Select Service Enhanced and Select Service Divisions)
- Kevin Dingle, SVP, development (Central, Select Service Enhanced and Select Service Divisions)
“The vertical structure we are committing to in all levels of Aimbridge is advantageous for owners, and we are able to deliver results and value in a way that exceeds expectations and sets Aimbridge apart within our industry,” Reid said. “The changed structure of our development team means better allocation of resources and more dedicated attention on the details that will move the needle in meaningful ways.”
2. The acquisition and retention of top talent, with more than 500,000 individuals within its talent community as prospective hires, above-average timelines for filling roles, and other impactful employee-centric programs, including the formal introduction of a gig work and staff sharing program, expanding availability for shifts across hotels to give team members a choice in when and where they work.
3. Enhancing guest experiences and enterprise operations, committing to identifying, testing and implementing new technologies. Current pilot programs in the Aimbridge system are:
- ‘New to hospitality’ point-of-sale system
- Grab-and-go market point-of-sale system
- Digital tipping solution
- Self-serve kiosks
- Mobile F&B ordering platform
- Ancillary revenue upsell platform