In his opening remarks at the 17th annual African American Hotel Ownership and Investment Summit, held this week at the Marriott Biscayne Bay in Miami, Fla., Andy Ingraham, president and CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers (NABHOOD), reflected on the achievements that African Americans have made in the hospitality industry.
At the start of the association in 1998, African-American hotel franchisees in the United States were scarce. “When you think about 15 years ago, you might think that African Americans didn’t own hotels,” said Ingraham. “But they did. They just didn’t own Marriotts or Hiltons.”
Now, NABHOOD members own and operate 523 hotels, most of them franchised through the major brands. With the industry recovering to peak levels and financing coming back, Ingraham and leading hotel executives encouraged African-American members to get involved in the business of hotel ownership.
Recent hotel data demonstrates that the time is ripe for hotel investment. Jan Freitag, senior vice president of global development for Smith Travel Research (STR) told the audience that the month of June produced the highest monthly room revenue ever at $11.5 billion. June also saw the highest revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth of the past six months. And with supply holding very low at .08 percent and demand staying strong at 2.3 percent, the outlook looks good through 2015.
Hotel executives from Marriott, Choice, Hilton, and La Quinta all agreed that the industry as a whole is on the upswing, but they stressed that prospective hotel owners need to have the equity in place in order to get financing. “The banks are out to make money,” said Bill Fortier, senior vice president of franchise development for Hilton Worldwide. “So you have to present them with a good location, strong sponsorship, and a good business plan. It has to be a quality project. Quality projects today will get financed.”