To buy or to sell? Ask a hotel broker

Stephanie Ricca

Stephanie RiccaIn the hotel business a lot of attention is paid to interpreting that feeling of hospitality, of genuine warmth and welcome. Some argue that people have the ability to execute natural hospitality or they don’t; others say it can be trained into a person, like you train someone to use a computer program.

We all have seen the value that innate feeling of hospitality lends to the hotel experience. Taking it one step further, we’ve also seen different organizations like Market Metrix and J.D. Power & Associates quantify that feeling with data, through customer service or guest satisfaction survey trends. Our industry is one that values two different ends of the spectrum—the happy, warm, fuzzy feeling of welcome, and the “just the facts, ma’am” world of data.

You might assume that the lines drawn between these two ends of the spectrum are clear: Designers deal exclusively in that warm, fuzzy feeling, while owners sit firmly on the “just the facts, ma’am” side of the fence. Truth is, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone gets in everyone else’s business these days, and the most intuitive hoteliers are those who can see and use the data and the feeling in mutually beneficial ways.

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Believe it or not, the folks I run into who seem to have that balanced intuition most often are brokers. Yes, brokers. The men and women who talk endlessly about cap rates and mezzanine financing. You might think this group cares only about how a deal pencils out on paper, but in truth, brokers consider a lot of factors as they work on transactions for buyers and sellers, so I learn a lot when I talk to them about financing and consumer trends. Ask a group of brokers about a certain market, for example, or a segment or brand of hotels, and they have precise data that factors in to the way they value that property, on that day, in that place. And it’s more than just numbers. I’ve had conversations with brokers who mention deals and talk about how much guest satisfaction or brand design standards factor in at the end of the day.

In this issue we present our annual brokers survey (page 16), and it too is more than just numbers. We ask a lot of sentiment questions in this survey and we get a lot of brokers willing to talk openly about their forecasts.

The biggest change in this year’s brokers survey comes from one of those sentiment questions. This year, the majority (61 percent) of participating brokers said 2014 is a great time to sell a hotel. Last year at this time, the majority of respondents were almost exactly flip-flopped on the side of buying hotels.

What does that mean for the overall hotel industry in 2014? I suggest asking a broker. And while you’re at it, go ahead and hug a broker today, too. 

All work and no play?

Members of the Questex Hospitality + Travel team headed to Napa Valley, Calif., to attend its 2014 HOTEC Operations & Technology event at the Meritage Resort & Spa. The event pairs hospitality buyers with suppliers in a series of one-on-one meetings and networking activities. Shown here are director of business development Cynthia Zucker; event director Nick Diligente; and David Eisen, managing editor of Hotel Management and Hotel Design. And no, they don’t dress like this every day; they dug out their best ‘80s gear for this year’s HOTEC networking party.

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