At Paramount we have discussed how, along with our busy schedules, we should manage our blogging activity. It doesn’t go more than 2 weeks that someone says that they want to start blogging more consistently for one reason or another. Sometimes however it takes a little incentive.
Recently we were informed of a tactic being taken by some of our competition in the brokerage world to win business over us. The tactic itself is one which lacks ethics, but the opportunities that it creates far outweigh any negative impact we could feel from others actions.
In a nutshell we were informed that at least one of our competitors have been making comments to hotel owners in the Midwest regarding our company and specifically my lack of interest in small hotel assets and their owners, that we believe it is not worth our time, etc. Now, for anyone that knows our company, there is no possible way to view this as our business plan, to avoid smaller properties and their owners. On the contrary, Paramount Lodging’s Chicago office has 10 full-time licensed salespeople, which we believe would be the single largest hotel brokerage office in the Midwest if not in the United States. The reason for having so many agents is so that we can create the same value for any hotel owner or interested party no matter where their asset is or what type.
It could be perceived that the Senior leadership of Paramount may not have been as available over the last couple of years to every single property or small portfolio hotel owner as we have been historically, and therefore are not “interested.” For those who know us though, they are aware that for the majority of the past 12-18 months we have been traveling extensively and repeatedly to meet with lenders, special servicers and equity groups who are responsible for the ownership or debt of all types of properties throughout the country. While doing valuation work and light consulting for everything from tertiary economy product to urban luxury product, the actual assignments that have been generated from the majority of this work has been focused on those assets which have the biggest issues. These properties are normally those which were severely over-valued and/or over-leveraged, and have immediate cash requirements on an ongoing basis. Assets that are performing, which tend to be the better brands and better located assets (assuming sound fundamentals not only with respect to capital markets, but brand, room count, location, etc., along with efficient operations) have not been viewed as needing our immediate assistance from a brokerage standpoint. So while Senior leadership at Paramount has been spending more time with these groups who are responsible for tremendous amounts of hotel product, the product type has leaned heavily to limited and focused service product along with full service assets with poor fundamentals or operations. This is one of the main reasons that we have expanded our company to the levels we have, so that for example in the Midwest, we always have at least one agent who is available to give our clients the highest levels of attention, focus, knowledge and most important advocacy that our company is based on.
Anyone who has spent time with us and me discussing the mission and continued development of Paramount has heard numerous times “the single asset owner of non-institutional product can never be neglected, they are responsible for a larger number of hotel assets of those who are living and breathing lodging as owner/operators are the ones who will become the future industry leaders, leading innovation in operations and building impressive well designed and diverse portfolios.”
How is this related to blogging? What I have been reminded again just over the past couple of days is the importance of making certain we educate the entire hotel community on not only how we do business, but why we do it in the first place. Hotel owners need advocates, in particular when they determine it is time to sell their hotel. They are hiring a consultant to assist with quite possibly the single most important event in the life of their hotel investment. In today’s environment, there are many others who need the same advocacy, but actually may need the knowledge that we as former operators and/or investors can provide more even than the single property owner. A lender, special servicer or private investment vehicle which may not have people on staff who have worked in the hotel industry need to know how to handle the ongoing issues they have with their hotel property exposure as well as potential assistance in disposition when appropriate.
Whoever it was that has suggested that Paramount does not see value in working with smaller owner operators deserves our thanks. Not only does it inform us that our clients or future clients may be targeted with mis-information, but reminds us that we need to do what we can to inform and educate about us and the industry. We are lucky to have a chance to work with so many different types of individuals and business entities with hotel interest, and what we learn from them collectively should be passed on to the entire pool of our current and future clients.
One way for us to do the above is clearly to blog, and to do it often. So I challenge our own team to begin again. Make a commitment to blog and inform. We will help ourselves but more importantly continue what we set out to do when we started Paramount and have continued to strive for, assist hotel industry participants wherever needed.