Justin Jabara, President of Meyer Jabara Hotels shares lessons learned in 2023 while taking a forward look at 2024.

Video Transcript

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Hey, if it’s Tuesday, it must be no vacancy.

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Unless, of course, I’m on a plane or doing a speaking gig or something.

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But either way, we got a lot.

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I’m Anthony.

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Welcome to No Vacancy Live.

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That’s my friend Glenn.

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You’re watching the number one show in hospitality.

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everybody welcome to no vacancy live i of course am glenn houseman anthony melchior is somewhere out there in the known uh universe not sure where he is but hopefully he will be able to join us today i want to thank all of you guys and girls out there for tuning in i’m excited to have you with us as we uh wrap up our final three shows of 2023 it’s hard to believe we’ve uh got another year gone by this week we’re going to be taking a look at

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2023 and how it affected some great hoteliers out there, as well as looking ahead to 2024.

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So we’re in the final stretch.

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I don’t know what your holiday plans are, but my, my thing that I’m most excited about is not being in an airport over a holiday break.

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So that’s going to be a lot of fun.

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And yeah,

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Somebody I know very well from here in the New England area, although I’m technically mid-Atlantic as a New Yorker.

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Connecticut to New England.

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We got Justin Jabara, president of Maya Jabara Hotels.

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I should ask, though, are you in Connecticut or are you down in Florida?

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So around this time of the year, I try to move to our West Palm Beach office.

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I’m in Connecticut here.

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Yeah, I had that.

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You were wearing that sweater.

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I had that Connecticut vibe.

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You really look like you’re ready for Christmas in Connecticut coming to the Hallmark Channel next week.

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A story of, you know, when Justin leaves the big city and decides to, you know, head to the suburbs and have a baby, which is coming apparently tomorrow.

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What’s going on with that?

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Yeah, it’s a homework movie in the making.

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So my wife is very pregnant and my phone is right in front of me.

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I’m waiting for the phone call.

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But between here and Christmas, we will have a beautiful baby daughter.

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That is so… Number two.

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I’m super excited for you.

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I can’t even remember what that moment of anticipation was like before my little ones came.

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Well, congratulations to you.

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So obviously…

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That’s going to be the best thing that happens to you in the entirety of 2023.

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But shifting from there to business, how are you feeling these days?

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How are you feeling about this year?

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You know, we’re just finishing up budget season and the year is wrapping up.

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A lot of year-end work going on here in the corporate office.

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And it’s around this time of year that I reminisce and I look at the year back and

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If you had asked me in 12 months from now how I thought this year was going to go, I’d tell you I was cautiously optimistic.

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I may have told you this in one of our interviews.

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I was cautiously optimistic about 2023.

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Wrapping up the year from a portfolio standpoint,

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It was very positive.

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It was a positive year across the board.

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And operationally, some of the struggles that we faced really coming into this year have waned.

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So that staffing shortage that we were facing, that just seemed like an insurmountable task, we’re now focused on.

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How do we get the best people in the right roles and recruit for quality?

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And so all in all, a very positive year from a management company standpoint.

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Also very positive.

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We actually outperformed our projections, which is spectacular.

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Well, congratulations and all that.

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Let’s break it down a little bit.

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And I say this for the folks that are out there, a lot of our younger viewers.

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In our business, we tend to clump everything together, right?

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When we talk about the state of the hospitality industry, but you’re right to break it down.

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The operations side is very, very different than the management portfolio side of it and that sort of business.

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And then we have the whole investment, development, et cetera, et cetera, all around that.

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So we tend to put it all together.

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So I’d like to break it down into different parts, right?

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Let’s start with the operations, and then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty stuff on your company.

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What is it that this year that helped you exceed those expectations financially?

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Was it that labor was able to produce for you more efficiently?

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Were you able to charge more?

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Did you see an ebbing in inflation?

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Probably a combination of all of that, but how do you see it?

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So, so across the portfolio performance wise, uh, you know, there, there, there was that recovery that we expected still happened.

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And, and so it slowed down a little bit.

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Now there are, uh, properties of ours in the leisure markets, uh, which did see a pullback.

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And so some of our Florida properties, uh, some of our core core leisure markets, but they were so highly inflated from a rate and occupancy standpoint.

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What we noticed was they really baseline back to where they probably should have been performing.

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So all in all, very positive.

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Now, as far as the the management company goes, because you’re right, it is it is it’s the operations and then the corporate management company.

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So we call that management.

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the EMCO, that did well also.

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So we were able to operate hotels and produce new services out to the properties based off their needs and perform on that well.

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One of the things we did in 2023, and we were working on this in 2022, was lever our business intelligence platform.

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And so while people were in the depths of COVID, we were actually hiring a business intelligence team, hiring in an IT team, and we were adding to our capability as a company.

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What that allowed us to do in 2023 was,

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is have the tools and the data real time to make better business decisions quicker.

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And at our management level, at the property level and the senior level to produce on that.

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And I think when you put it all together, it’s a very nice story.

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Now from the development side,

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And our personal investments, I must say the high interest rates and the high cost to build has created some significant headwinds.

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And so any deal that we were working on, what we’re finding is it’s not taking double the amount of time to get a deal done, but maybe triple or quadruple the amount of time and resources to get a deal done than it would be in 19.

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All right.

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So I want to talk about business intelligence aspect of it.

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But considering that you just talked about getting deals over the finish line, that is something I’m seeing everywhere, Justin.

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So it’s important for people out there to know this is not something that’s affecting your company.

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It’s affecting our entire industry.

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Interest rates have gone up to numbers we haven’t seen since before the Great Recession.

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Or I guess shortly afterwards when they started coming down, down, down, down.

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And it’s kind of changed the dynamics of what could possibly make for a profitable new build or for a sale of a hotel.

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So as these market dynamics change, how does that start to change your expansion strategy when it comes to landing management contracts?

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If you can’t build new hotels, how are you seeing it?

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So for us, you know, the world is a little bit different.

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We own hotels and we also manage hotels.

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So two thirds of our portfolio we privately own.

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And then the one third that we do third party management for is primarily for private equity, family offices or developers of class A real estate and other spaces coming into into our segment.

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So, you know,

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Holistically, we’ve found with the high interest rates is it’s just it’s making it extremely difficult to get something over the line.

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So we need to approach it differently.

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So so the deals that we are working on, we’ve had to get very creative to make them pencil.

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And so that’s, you know, from from a full capital stacks deal.

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Could you share that a little bit?

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You know, you could give a hypothetical example if you want.

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But I’m just curious as to how you can get that done.

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Why is a deal that would have worked in 2019 not going to work in 2024?

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And how does the interest rates really affect your ability to make it profitable?

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Well, I mean, it’s simply bill costs.

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And we see this, you know, not only… It’s more than the interest rates.

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It costs more to build it.

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And therefore, you’re putting more capital, which is going to cost more.

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Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.

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From a… We’re doing… I mean, our renovations… We have a design and construction department behind me, and they are just flat out renovating hotels for PIPs that were deferred through COVID, as many of us did.

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A PIP that I could have done

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in 2019 to a pip that we’re doing.

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Sorry, produce Dr. Producer San is we got to explain a pip property improvement plan.

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That means either, you know, you’re renovating and getting it up to snuff either from an internal edict or if you’re with a brand, maybe their edict as well.

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Go on.

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Sorry, Justin.

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And so it,

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in many cases, is 30% higher.

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In some cases, it’s even worse by the time you factor in the cost of the material and then the additional cost of construction in today’s environment.

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So it’s getting tougher to get deals done.

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And that means you have to be really, really super careful.

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That’s difficult for you, but for the operations side of the business, and this is where I really want to try to make a clear distinction for some of the younger people in our business.

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that that could actually be a good thing for existing hotels.

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It means that there’s less of a probability that someone’s going to open up a competing property that’s brand spanking new across the street from you.

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So that’s the silver lining as I see it.

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How do you rationalize all of this in your head?

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Glenn, it sounds like you were in our corporate office doing business plan reviews because that is exactly when we looked at the SWOT analysis of many of our markets, there was still record low supply in many of these markets.

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And so that, you know, while it’s on one side, very difficult to build a hotel on the operating existing portfolio, we

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are blessed in the fact that typically there’s a couple hotels that open up every year in a market.

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And because of high interest rates, because of the same struggles we’re facing on the other side of the company, it operationally is fruitful for us.

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And one of the reasons why we still think 2024 is going to be a good year.

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Yeah, and that’s interesting.

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So while people are having development challenges, this might be a good opportunity for you folks to be able to push through these barriers that we’re starting to see right now for rates, right?

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Also, I love what you’re doing.

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You’re focused on independent properties.

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I got the Wentworth in Jackson, New Hampshire right here behind me.

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It says it’s a historic building from 1887.

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Man, you can’t beat that.

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That must be a real fun property to operate.

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So this was a very interesting asset.

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And we just finished repositioning it.

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And we have great partners on this property.

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But this 1887, 60 keys, mostly suites among five buildings.

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And this renovation…

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One of the challenges we wanted to maintain the history through it, but modernize the asset and then bring in amenities that the newer traveler is looking for.

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So we added additional food and beverage, a whole slew of things.

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The great news is actually we’re in the New York Post today in the travel section.

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No way.

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Yeah, which is nice.

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And so it’s getting a lot of press.

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The hotel is doing spectacular.

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And I was getting the updates over the weekend of a sold out house.

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So we’re thrilled to see it chugging along and post repositioning.

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Well, that is awesome.

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I know you guys have Christmas special packages, New Year’s special packages, all of that kind of stuff.

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And for you that don’t know, those things are critical for your public relations efforts.

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It’s a good tool in order to get the word out.

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And something like that could be the linchpin

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that gets you into a major newspaper such as the New York Post.

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I didn’t see the piece myself.

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I don’t know if that was highlighted, but typically PR people try to think of some sort of angle like that.

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Otherwise, you’re just saying the same old, same old, just stay at our hotel.

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It’s lovely.

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You need to have that little bit of an angle over there.

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that sort of thing gives you that business intelligence right and i want to get back to that how are you thinking about business intelligence and tell me a little bit about that team that you brought together in order to be able to go to a little bit more depth in order to get people to come than what your competitors are thinking about

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So one of the things that we did during COVID was we looked at COVID and said, you know, if COVID is going to define us, how do we want it to define us?

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And so we took it as an opportunity to make some change, take care of journey culture, right?

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And the principle of change is good.

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When we looked at our corporate systems, we actually historically had written all of our own software.

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So knowing that the future is in technology, we wrote a lot of our software.

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What has happened is between security settings and everything else, that has gotten very difficult to do and maintain.

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You had me at doing our own software.

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I can’t believe you guys were doing that at all.

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That’s unbelievable.

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Well, and it’s atypical, right?

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And so for us, as we always say, how do we want our hotels operated?

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And so we want our managers to have the best information real time.

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So what the BI team is focused around is taking in hundreds of thousands of data points, which transmit regularly and making sense of them and making sense of them in a way that

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a housekeeping manager, a food and beverage manager, a chef, a general manager, a director of sales has the right information so that they’re not spending half of their time looking for data to make a decision.

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I use the analogy of

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We have our corporate reviews every month and everybody comes into our office and it’s a two day review of the portfolio.

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And it would take a full day to prepare for the two day meeting.

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And I said, this is highly inefficient.

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And then chances are sometimes the information you got may have not been up to date.

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It was getting updated.

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And so what the BI team is focused around is getting that data, those thousands of data points, so that they are up to date, they are correct, and at the fingertips of the ops team so that they can focus on serving our guests, not looking at, you know,

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Forecast wise, cost wise, real-time cost in the kitchen, right?

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Real-time cost in the housekeeping department so that it’s not this laborious process.

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And these things also help you refine processes and procedures which can help eliminate that labor issue that the industry has been having.

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And we’re solving that issue, I think, in two ways industry-wide.

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You tell me if you’re seeing it the same way.

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People are coming back to hospitality and filling some of those roles while that business intelligence technology aspect of it is creating opportunities

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more free hours, say in housekeeping, for example, if you can knock off a couple of hours from each housekeeper’s work, then before you know it, you’re cutting down on the total number of people that you need.

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Are you seeing the same sorts of things in your businesses?

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I think there’s many applications to technology where we can become more efficient.

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And so there’s things like mobile check it.

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It’s pretty simple.

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If they check in on their phone, we can be more efficient with the hours at the front desk.

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They’re focused on the right things.

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I’d rather have a front desk associate focused on the guest experience, delivering a memorable experience to that guest.

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Then the blocking and tackling of a check in or even room assignments.

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And so there’s new software around that in our corporate office.

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We use AI technology on our accounts payables.

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I mean, it’s really simple.

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But when you think of the track, a invoice goes through by the time it goes from the vendor and it’s paid.

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I mean, a lot of people that touch it, it’s highly inefficient.

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So, you know, those are some areas where we’re- That’s a great point.

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Just got me thinking on my QuickBooks account.

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Sometimes I look and it can tell you how often they’ve looked at the invoice and you can have like 20, 30 times somebody’s looking at an invoice before they pay it.

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That’s, I don’t know how many people are doing it or what the procedures work.

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It just, that tells me that that’s spending a lot of time that could be better utilized elsewhere, right?

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And we’d rather have an AR clerk

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Focused on, you know, what is in that invoice, right?

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And did you order housekeeping supplies too often?

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We’re paying too dry on that, right?

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That’s where I think, you know, the true success in 2024 is going to come from is operational proficiencies.

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Industry has a there’s a very interesting thing that we start feeling in 23 and I don’t think it’s going away, which is, you know, occupancy basically is, you know, is where it is.

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Rates are rate growth at the huge rate growth.

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We just say raise the rates, raise the rate.

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yeah that’s starting to taper off and so what we’re seeing is we’re plateauing a little bit right and we’re not seeing that huge rate growth but what’s still you know what’s still happening is inflation so so from the bottom up right some of that wage pressure is tapered off but still there

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Let me just add a quick statistic.

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Wages and hospitality went up three times faster than general sector jobs in the last few years, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

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Please continue, Justin.

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Which is huge.

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And so the hotel operational model.

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is not built to handle this, right?

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So if you can’t grow your way out of it, right?

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And you still have those pressures in the middle of the statement, right?

19:14.276 –> 19:17.039
Through inflation, it’s gotta come from somewhere.

19:17.079 –> 19:22.744
And so our feeling is operational proficiency and being best in class in the industry

19:23.224 –> 19:24.245
is how we’ll compete in 2024.

19:24.885 –> 19:31.928
You know, what few people are talking about is the below-the-line pressures that owners are facing.

19:32.068 –> 19:40.572
And so in certain markets, for example, Florida, insurance, when people went to go renew their insurance this year, doubled.

19:41.112 –> 19:46.034
And in some cases, tripled for homeowners insurance as well.

19:46.094 –> 19:47.355
So that’s a statewide issue.

19:47.795 –> 19:48.155

19:48.295 –> 19:50.616
And so that’s all cash that went to the bottom line.

19:50.636 –> 19:50.857

19:52.077 –> 19:59.524
If you had to refinance this year, your financing, your interest expense could have doubled or tripled.

20:00.305 –> 20:02.187
So when you look at the hotel market,

20:02.532 –> 20:05.194
model, you know, it’s got to come from somewhere else.

20:05.254 –> 20:09.197
And, and so, so our feeling is it’s got to come out of operational efficiency.

20:09.458 –> 20:09.958
Yeah, totally.

20:09.978 –> 20:21.667
And I’ve said this recently on this show, but it always amazes to me how people are so good in this business and can see so much combined with advances in technology.

20:21.788 –> 20:30.775
It seems to open up new areas of opportunity for profitability or reducing expenses that we wouldn’t have considered in the prior cycle.

20:31.115 –> 20:41.701
I remember when we were peaking pre-pandemic, we’re like, how much more operationally adept can everybody get?

20:41.721 –> 20:44.003
It seems like, no, we can’t go anywhere.

20:44.023 –> 20:46.624
And then, boom, everyone seems to have blown through a hole.

20:47.124 –> 20:53.888
And now companies like yours are rethinking everything in order to drive more profitability by lowering expenses.

20:53.928 –> 20:54.869
And I see this constantly.

20:55.189 –> 21:00.516
sort of thing, Justin, as you look at every aspect of your business, start to think about that rule of 1%, right?

21:00.556 –> 21:04.420
Make it 1% more efficient this week than do it again next month or whatever.

21:04.721 –> 21:06.423
And you do that across all areas of the business.

21:06.443 –> 21:10.027
And before you start to know it, you’re saving some real money over there.

21:10.947 –> 21:13.808
But my grandfather always said it’s a nickel and dime business.

21:14.908 –> 21:25.911
And so one of the things that we’re beta testing right now in our corporate office is using AI technology and chatbots on the catering side.

21:26.271 –> 21:29.132
So think of how many times you get a catering lead, right?

21:29.152 –> 21:36.313
And so that catering lead goes to an email address and somebody needs to back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, qualify the lead.

21:36.373 –> 21:38.254
And then it works its way through the sales process.

21:38.914 –> 21:42.461
Well, what we found is, you know, that’s relatively inefficient.

21:42.501 –> 21:47.389
I’d rather have that salesperson focus on servicing their clients and active sales.

21:47.570 –> 21:51.477
And so there’s technology out there that will do that.

21:51.497 –> 21:52.158
And by the way,

21:52.520 –> 21:54.401
It’ll do it 24 hours a day.

21:54.601 –> 22:00.243
And as we know, the first one to respond to a sales lead is typically the one that gets it.

22:00.263 –> 22:09.387
And so it’s about being more efficient with the payroll dollars that we have so that we can, at the end of the day, be more successful.

22:09.447 –> 22:12.568
And also, it seems like giving your people…

22:13.428 –> 22:16.673
the tools that they need to be more successful.

22:16.893 –> 22:27.508
And I’m going to create an inference here, but I bet that that leads to more employee engagement and their desire to stay longer within your organization.

22:28.928 –> 22:31.229
We have our culture.

22:31.249 –> 22:32.430
It’s called the Journey Culture.

22:32.470 –> 22:37.452
And Dr. Jim Velasco, many, many moons ago, helped us roll this out.

22:37.752 –> 22:50.159
And one of the things that’s interesting about 2023, as we look back at it, is that our turnover was in the low 20s across the organization, which is unheard of.

22:51.399 –> 22:52.680
Industry-wide, it’s something like 80%.

22:52.760 –> 22:54.501
It’s like 80%.

22:54.561 –> 22:58.243
And the reality is, depending on the property, it could be higher.

22:58.703 –> 22:59.003

22:59.023 –> 23:01.064
Some are over 100%, which is insanity.

23:01.524 –> 23:02.184
Right, right.

23:03.004 –> 23:12.587
And our associate satisfaction scores, I almost said AOS, but our associate satisfaction scores this year were the best we had had.

23:13.007 –> 23:14.348
And we used Zenger Folkman.

23:14.388 –> 23:16.328
I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but they…

23:18.309 –> 23:19.629
survey corporate health.

23:19.709 –> 23:23.910
And it’s just not in hotel companies, but it’s across many industries.

23:24.850 –> 23:28.251
And we scored in the high 90s for Sanger Folkman.

23:28.831 –> 23:29.712

23:30.212 –> 23:32.772
All of that comes from being in the people business.

23:33.372 –> 23:35.053
And so we are in the hotel business.

23:35.813 –> 23:42.174
But all technology allows us to do is give our people better tools so that they can go be great.

23:42.274 –> 23:45.035
And so we’re empowering them through technology.

23:45.075 –> 23:45.875
We’re empowering them

23:46.363 –> 23:49.605
through giving them the right tools so that we’re successful.

23:49.985 –> 23:59.992
Our focus in 2024, and it is a focus every year, but my performance, I write a performance agreement every year and I give it to everybody in the company.

24:00.012 –> 24:02.013
It gets published across the whole organization.

24:02.893 –> 24:09.818
And we believe in transparency and there’s nothing more transparent than here is what I’m committing to do as the president of the company.

24:10.818 –> 24:12.659
And you can all be accountable to that.

24:12.819 –> 24:13.000

24:13.260 –> 24:13.580

24:14.022 –> 24:20.087
But number one is always people on my PA and 2024 will be no different.

24:20.447 –> 24:31.937
Now, again, for the folks out there, for every person you don’t have to hire, you’re saving somewhere around $5,700 in hard and soft costs.

24:32.358 –> 24:37.382
So for properties that are running that 80% turnover compared to what you’re doing, what

24:37.982 –> 24:49.671
All of that money is either going away in man hours, which could be better satisfying your guests, or going out there and getting new business, and you’re losing all of that opportunity.

24:49.691 –> 24:56.236
So you’re able to keep that in-house and keep your expenses lower than if you continued to replace people.

24:56.296 –> 25:01.720
So moving into 2024, where’s your areas of opportunity, do you think?

25:03.156 –> 25:08.159
If margin, there’s just a pressure on margin, you know, from the operating side.

25:08.399 –> 25:10.541
So so that’s what we’re focused on.

25:11.481 –> 25:11.962

25:12.862 –> 25:14.503
We spoke a little bit about people.

25:14.623 –> 25:14.883

25:14.943 –> 25:17.605
And where we’re focused on there.

25:18.203 –> 25:35.840
then growth i think that 2024 uh will be a great growth opportunity year the last couple years have been stifled by some of the the issues that we just talked about uh there is a disconnect in our industry right when you talk about

25:36.941 –> 25:43.647
Basically hotels, you know, they could be strongly performing hotels, but are facing big headwinds, right?

25:43.787 –> 25:49.072
Or they may have been purchased, you know, built at just too high of a cost and the market have not come back.

25:50.314 –> 25:51.235
And so I think, you know,

25:52.324 –> 25:56.326
As far as growth goes, we need to be more creative in the way that we approach growth.

25:57.026 –> 26:00.248
We need to look at different areas and avenues.

26:00.548 –> 26:06.770
We are just closing on two pieces of land in different markets, right?

26:07.351 –> 26:10.472
And so we wouldn’t do that if we weren’t bullish on the future.

26:11.533 –> 26:15.034
But I got to tell you, both of those pieces of land are mixed-use development.

26:15.074 –> 26:17.135
So historically, we would just put a hotel on it.

26:17.555 –> 26:21.037
Now there’s other components with that, including residential.

26:21.673 –> 26:23.494
Ah, and that helps things pencil out.

26:23.534 –> 26:27.376
So Sneha Patel says margin, but how?

26:27.496 –> 26:30.418
Maybe you could just explain that a little bit more for him.

26:31.679 –> 26:35.121
So I think it’s finding efficiencies in the model.

26:35.281 –> 26:47.408
One of the things that rang budget review over budget review in our corporate office was how do we take the lessons learned in 2020 and make sure that we continue to apply them

26:48.044 –> 26:49.605
in 2023 and 2024.

26:50.345 –> 26:53.807
So, I mean, a simple example is how we purchase, right?

26:53.967 –> 26:59.290
And we’re lucky in the fact that we have a department here in our corporate office that is focused around purchasing.

26:59.751 –> 27:02.172
But let’s say if we can’t grow

27:02.819 –> 27:04.560
our rate in occupancy, right?

27:04.700 –> 27:06.220
The margin’s got to come from somewhere.

27:06.260 –> 27:09.681
And so how do we purchase soaps more efficiently?

27:10.041 –> 27:12.382
How do we become more efficient with our labor?

27:13.262 –> 27:16.263
We’re always going to need people to clean rooms, right?

27:17.043 –> 27:18.883
But how do we get more efficient with that?

27:18.903 –> 27:19.524
That’s right.

27:19.584 –> 27:20.844
Menus, menu design.

27:20.884 –> 27:25.205
How do we get more efficient with our menu design so there’s less waste, right?

27:25.585 –> 27:28.026
And all that flows right into margins.

27:28.459 –> 27:31.366
Yeah, all of that makes a whole lot of sense.

27:31.386 –> 27:37.261
What are you most excited about besides your new blessing in your family coming this week for 2024?

27:38.404 –> 27:42.447
Well, I looked at the calendar and I forgot that Sunday was Christmas Eve.

27:43.048 –> 27:51.134
I mean, I got baby on the brain, but obviously that is a great hallmark that we’re excited for.

27:51.935 –> 27:55.318
I believe that 2024 is going to be a good year for the industry.

27:55.398 –> 28:03.604
When I wake up every day and I sit at my desk, I pinch myself because I remember what it was like in 2021.

28:04.986 –> 28:06.107
in 2021.

28:06.627 –> 28:09.209
And times are good.

28:09.630 –> 28:10.230
Times are good.

28:10.290 –> 28:10.590

28:11.211 –> 28:14.253
Is there opportunity in certain segments?

28:14.353 –> 28:16.135
Yes, that is true.

28:16.595 –> 28:20.798
But if you look at where we are from an industry, it’s very positive.

28:21.959 –> 28:29.345
And for all intents and factors, what 2024 has in store for us, I think we can manage through quite successfully.

28:29.890 –> 28:35.836
Yeah, I think, again, in industry parlance, the fundamentals are there, right?

28:36.357 –> 28:37.838
People want to travel.

28:37.879 –> 28:45.206
And one of the things that amazes me most that I think, Justin, is that it’s been keeping our industry going is that

28:46.087 –> 29:14.737
it’s become so evident that people want to travel all the times you know ever since the great recession we really moved from that materialistic culture into an experiential kind of uh society and we saw that we saw that in the summer of 21 and 22 with everyone flooding to the florida hotels and we saw it this past year um where some folks might be visiting some of your hotels up here in the new england area or going to uh europe i think um almost everyone went to europe this uh this past summer for sure

29:15.177 –> 29:22.903
So, you know, all of these factors are out there making sure that this business continues to be rich and exciting.

29:23.243 –> 29:25.285
But Justin, how are you thinking about now?

29:25.745 –> 29:28.948
People are out there and traveling and I’ve been a big proponent about

29:29.810 –> 29:31.031
the digital nomad.

29:31.151 –> 29:33.833
And in the dark days of COVID, people are saying, that’s over.

29:33.853 –> 29:35.254
It’s never going to happen again.

29:35.274 –> 29:47.181
I just read an article this morning about a husband and wife that have remote jobs that have been traveling since 2020 and only spend a few weeks in New York every year visiting family this very specific time of year.

29:47.221 –> 29:52.305
How do you see the future of digital nomads and the opportunities that that might open up for your hotels?

29:53.337 –> 29:56.258
So I think there is a normalization, right?

29:56.278 –> 30:04.242
So if you look at remote work and people coming back, we’re starting to see that now it’s taken a lot longer than I ever anticipated it to happen.

30:04.342 –> 30:08.744
I can’t believe CEOs are still saying, come on, come back to the office.

30:09.244 –> 30:15.247
But we’re seeing that we saw that among the leisure markets and everything else, you know,

30:16.616 –> 30:22.120
Our industry, I think, has become somewhat commoditized over the last many years.

30:22.460 –> 30:35.789
And so what I think will set operators and owners apart in this year and years to come is how that we differentiate the experience in the hotel, right?

30:35.849 –> 30:42.033
And so when you talk about digital nomads, right, whether it’s just a cookie cutter franchise hotel,

30:42.628 –> 30:48.270
or it’s a cookie cutter franchise hotel with a great check-in experience and personalized service and those touches.

30:48.571 –> 30:50.291
It doesn’t matter what chain scale you are.

30:50.632 –> 31:00.576
You could be at an economy all the way up, but I think that that is how you’re gonna win not only the digital nomad customer, but customers moving forward.

31:01.124 –> 31:08.428
Yeah, I was actually at a hotel last week that I couldn’t do my show from because the internet wasn’t good enough.

31:08.648 –> 31:12.230
I’m like, how could that be in today’s day and age?

31:15.699 –> 31:21.883
we look at a lot of guest comment cards and poor internet just doesn’t fly in today’s world.

31:21.943 –> 31:26.346
And remember, the average customer, it’s not just one device now.

31:26.426 –> 31:29.607
It could be up to six devices that are in the room.

31:29.828 –> 31:34.190
So it’s one of the reasons we brought IT in-house.

31:34.250 –> 31:38.433
And this year we hired in a team to do installations.

31:38.473 –> 31:44.036
So it’s not only product IT support across the field, but it’s installations because sometimes

31:44.276 –> 31:49.819
all of those hotels that were built with one cat five in the room, it just doesn’t cut it anymore.

31:49.879 –> 31:54.801
And so, so we’re looking at fiber optic cat six, how many cat six lines need to go into a room?

31:55.282 –> 32:01.585
Um, I just toured the, the hotel Marcel, uh, which is Bruce Becker’s hotel.

32:01.645 –> 32:11.530
Spectacular, by the way, uh, when the first or possibly the only passive hotel, uh, that’s out there, but all the lighting in the room is low voltage.

32:14.428 –> 32:19.309
From a technology standpoint, that’s six to eight runs a cat five in a room.

32:21.010 –> 32:22.811
I bet you Bruce’s internet’s pretty good.

32:23.331 –> 32:25.112
I would think so.

32:27.112 –> 32:27.653
That’s for sure.

32:28.013 –> 32:33.215
Hey, listen, I got to give a quick shout out to my friend Jessica Janis who works with Corning.

32:33.255 –> 32:36.196
They did all the fiber for Resorts World.

32:36.316 –> 32:38.677
And whenever I stay there, I was just there a couple of weeks ago.

32:39.537 –> 33:04.959
their internet is so blazing fast from wherever i am on the property that i get such crystal clear images when i’m doing this uh this broadcast there so for any of you out there that don’t have that internet it’s really a place that your customers will notice 10 years ago justin maybe even more i was telling people it’s as essential as electricity and water and a hot shower i mean if you don’t have internet right

33:05.586 –> 33:20.967
it’s a problem yeah it’s worse than a hot shower i could go a day without showering i cannot i could not go a day without you know checking in on the internet because my whole career is based on that for example and most people’s lives are for sure you’re gonna be out at alice

33:23.323 –> 33:25.964
I looked at my calendar and my wife had blocked many months.

33:25.984 –> 33:27.325
Yeah, like six weeks probably.

33:28.986 –> 33:34.068
So I don’t think Alice is on the schedule, but I will be on the road shortly after that.

33:34.588 –> 33:39.091
Well, I’m sure I’ll see you at the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference coming up March 6th.

33:40.167 –> 33:40.688

33:40.567 –> 33:40.688

33:40.708 –> 33:42.148
I’m looking at my calendar.

33:42.529 –> 33:43.649
Yeah, for sure.

33:44.009 –> 33:44.550

33:44.770 –> 33:47.992
How about a good quick plug for, uh, for you guys before I let you go for the day.

33:48.452 –> 33:58.578
Well, listen, you know, at Marjorie hotels, we just keep doing what we do, uh, which is delivering, you know, best in class management and, and world-class experience.

33:58.638 –> 34:03.121
So, uh, 23 was a great year and we’re looking forward to a spectacular 24.

34:03.201 –> 34:06.903
Let me also just add, uh, I think, uh, uh,

34:07.443 –> 34:14.107
Justin, if you were not actually born in a hotel, you were pretty much like raised in a hotel.

34:14.367 –> 34:16.228
We didn’t go to camp as kids.

34:16.368 –> 34:17.789
We bought hotels.

34:18.069 –> 34:24.573
And so now it’s with Bill and Richard, but my grandfather and grandfather were in the business.

34:24.613 –> 34:26.934
We’re a three-generation hotel company.

34:27.179 –> 34:29.742
What is it, like 45 years or something like that?

34:29.762 –> 34:36.950
45 with Bill and Richard, but if you put my grandfather and Arthur with Cervico, it’s well into the 60s.

34:37.230 –> 34:38.312
So what was that like?

34:38.752 –> 34:43.478
I mean, your story is not uncommon in our business.

34:43.578 –> 34:48.864
I think everyone, like half the people I think that own hotels now grew up

34:49.405 –> 34:50.327
in hotels.

34:50.608 –> 34:51.730
What was that like for you?

34:51.811 –> 34:58.066
And when did you realize that you actually loved it and it wasn’t just a preordained future for you?

34:59.377 –> 35:02.778
Well, when I was younger, I mean, it was normal to us.

35:02.858 –> 35:05.338
So we didn’t go on vacation.

35:05.378 –> 35:08.399
We went to hotels, and we didn’t have babysitters.

35:08.779 –> 35:13.220
We ended up at the front desk, or as we got bigger, they put us in the kitchen.

35:14.300 –> 35:18.841
I must say I learned to curse at a very young age from spending so much time in the kitchen.

35:19.161 –> 35:24.122
Actually, we did not get my kids to curse early enough, and that’s a parenting fail on my part.

35:24.222 –> 35:24.382

35:24.742 –> 35:31.169
So that’s a hazard of coming up in a hotel kitchen, but it was a blessing.

35:31.309 –> 35:42.300
And as I got further through my life, you know, instead of summer camp, I would go to a hotel and I would live at a hotel for a month, two months, and I would work there.

35:42.320 –> 35:44.863
And it was everything from being a bellman.

35:45.307 –> 35:50.551
to room service, to working on the banquet line inside a kitchen.

35:51.792 –> 35:54.834
So I am blessed to have that experience.

35:55.895 –> 35:59.978
My father always said you could do what you’d like, and you may know this,

36:00.778 –> 36:11.442
I actually had a career as a EMT cardiac and a firefighter and for many years and moved full time into the hotel business.

36:11.502 –> 36:16.104
And so I have a very interesting viewpoint on the world.

36:17.284 –> 36:24.527
And I must say, I wake up every day and I’m blessed to be in the hotel business because you’ll never be lonely, right?

36:24.960 –> 36:25.941
You’ll never be bored.

36:27.282 –> 36:29.424
And there’s just always something going on.

36:29.464 –> 36:36.010
And we just have a great big family around us between our properties and everybody here in our corporate office and our partners.

36:36.431 –> 36:36.611
All right.

36:36.671 –> 36:37.912
One last question for you.

36:38.573 –> 36:40.815
How many Megs do you think is enough per room?

36:40.855 –> 36:45.879
And I don’t think he’s talking about that giant shark from the Jason Statham movies.

36:47.180 –> 36:47.661
You know what?

36:49.984 –> 36:55.688
We always struggle with this and the brand standards keep going up and up.

36:57.229 –> 37:00.592
One thing that I would say is plan for the future.

37:00.712 –> 37:14.201
So everything that we are building now either has fiber going to it or multiple runs of Cat6 because that TV that we put in three years ago didn’t need a dedicated line and now it does.

37:14.361 –> 37:15.082
And the hotel’s

37:15.680 –> 37:19.221
We built 14 years ago where the access points were out in the hallway.

37:19.582 –> 37:20.882
Now there’s one in every room.

37:21.082 –> 37:29.025
And so one of the things that we spend a lot of time thinking about is planning towards the future as everything goes online.

37:29.606 –> 37:33.567
And I mean, you talk about the Hilton smart room or the Marriott smart room.

37:33.907 –> 37:40.790
I mean, it’s just a matter of time between, you know, when the blinds need low voltage to them so they can operate.

37:41.178 –> 37:51.350
Oh, there’s already a lot of companies out there that are helping create products that can control the whole room at all different levels of hospitality, not just at the luxury level.

37:51.370 –> 37:51.710
All right.

37:52.110 –> 37:56.776
So Suzanne wants to know, with all that experience, what do you consider to be your superpower?

37:56.796 –> 38:00.500
I think it’s our people and our culture.

38:00.885 –> 38:18.290
And a lot of companies will say that, but I must say, having grown up in this business, but then also taking the business through COVID, our people and our culture are what got us through COVID and got us through COVID relatively unscathed, which was just a blessing.

38:19.350 –> 38:21.571
We spend a lot of time on our journey culture.

38:22.351 –> 38:34.265
uh we we live it every day uh for example my pa you know which will go out to the company glenn i’ll send you a copy of it um because and it it’s everywhere from the housekeeper all the way through

38:35.270 –> 38:36.791
that have our commitment.

38:36.831 –> 38:41.053
But I believe that is our superpower and what makes us great.

38:41.133 –> 38:49.498
It is my role and Bill and Richard’s role to ensure that we have great hotels and good locations with strong brands and we invest into those.

38:50.138 –> 38:57.963
But at the end of the day, what differentiates our product is our people and our people are our superpower.

38:58.603 –> 38:58.723

38:59.399 –> 39:04.846
And our stats, you know, our stats I shared earlier with you show that it works, right?

39:07.690 –> 39:15.455
just so proud of our low turnover and just the quality of individuals we have working in our- As you should be.

39:15.575 –> 39:18.797
Congratulations on all of your success right now.

39:18.877 –> 39:26.923
I think you work with every major hotel company that’s out there, in addition to having all the independent properties in your portfolio as well.

39:27.603 –> 39:29.164
Thank you so much.

39:29.204 –> 39:31.226
Justin Jabara, Maya Jabara Hotels.

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Do me a favor, hang out backstage.

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Let me wrap up, then I can give you a real goodbye.

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See you later.

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I want to thank all of you folks for being here.

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This has been such a great and rewarding year.

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And I know you’re going to want to catch up on some of those shows over holiday break.

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We’ll be running some best ofs, but also get our complete catalog of shows at NoVingATNews.com, wherever you get your podcasts.

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And if you want to watch us, of course, we’re here on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram.

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Now I’m broadcasting on Instagram.

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That’s right.

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And on YouTube.

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Thanks so much, everybody, for being here.

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And remember, you’ve got one life, so blaze on.

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And as Anthony would say, be kind to yourself.

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Back here tomorrow.