Tom Conran, principal of the management company, said, “We’ve been very fortunate over the past several years to be on a clip of anywhere between four and five hotels per year. What’s the cause of that? It comes down to five fundamental philosophies we have.”
The first philosophy is knowing what you’re good at—in this case, full-service hotels. “If you look at our operational track record, delivering results across the portfolio, they’re very significant. One can’t grow unless you’re performing well in the current portfolio and maintaining that portfolio, so that’s a platform for us to grow moving forward,” he said.
The second philosophy is not thinking one size fits all. “We have the ability to create custom solutions and operational requirements per each property,” Conran said. “We never look across the portfolio and suggest they all look and act alike. They’re different markets and attributes, so we customize our service solutions per hotel, whether that’s how we handle room service, technology, restaurants. We customize and are able to do that based on size and the corporate staff.” There are 20 professionals supporting Greenwood’s portfolio, which Conran called “a very high level from a coverage standpoint.” He noted that as the company has grown, corporate support has grown. “This year alone, we’ve added five new team members to our corporate staff. As we grow, you can’t just keep the same size corporate support,” he said.
A focus on F&B is another one of the company’s tenets. “We have an overt personality and a deep food and beverage expertise. We look at F&B both as fostering the positioning of the hotel and as a moneymaking venture,” Conran said, adding that Greenwood doesn’t benchmark its restaurants against other hotel restaurants—it benchmarks against freestanding ones. “We just happen to have a restaurant located in the hotel, but in no way do we look at it like a hotel restaurant,” Conran noted.
The fourth philosophy is an ongoing investment in a value-driven culture. “We believe in a value-driven culture you attract and retain the best people at the property level. We spend a great deal of time on our cultural message, our corporate support, so it’s an ongoing minute-by-minute effort within our portfolio centered around empowerment, having some fun, being flexible, engagement, getting involved in our community and trusting one another,” he said.
Lastly, Corcoran noted, Greenwood has found itself as “a trusted advisor on major renovations and hotel development projects. This year alone, we’ll be opening two additional hotels: one is ground up and the other is a transformation of an existing property that’s going through a very extensive renovation program. Next year, we have another hotel opening that’s ground up.”
While the company has experienced robust growth, Conran said it plans to manage its growth potential. “I don’t think we’ll take on 15 hotels at a time,” he explained. “We view our partner relationships very seriously. Within our portfolio, I think a testimony to our success is the number of hotel owners that have multiple properties with us. I don’t believe you get to do the second hotel unless you do the first one really well. In fact, we have a couple of clients we have three hotels with.”
Looking long term, Conran said that if the portfolio grew to 30 or 40 hotels the executives at the company would be “very pleased,” but noted size isn’t what’s important. “It’s about being viewed as a company that is a benchmark for the industry. We want to be best in class,” he said. “We’ve had the opportunity to operate a number of these hotels for a sustained period of time. So when we look at growing the company, our strategy is to align ourselves with clients that have our value proposition, and we have a significant emphasis on aligning with market-leading properties. They may not be market leading today, but we always want to operate one of the top-tier properties in any given marketplace. If you align culturally, good things happen.”
Noting that the company has established footholds in secondary markets with full-service properties, Conran called Greenwood opportunistic and said, “I don’t think there’s any location within the Continental U.S. we wouldn’t view, but, certainly, we have to look at the efficiency in operating a property, how long it takes to get there—all of that goes into the mix.”
And what of the current lodging landscape? “You’re always concerned about global factors that may affect travel at the U.S. level, but we’re in a very elongated cycle,” he said. “This cycle has lasted longer than most, and depending on who you listen to, this cycle could last 12-18 months longer before we see any incremental downturn. Travel fundamentals remain strong. I don’t think we’re going to see those 7-8% RevPAR increases—we’ll have to moderate that, probably in that 2-3% level as we move forward.” HB