Grow experts via certification

BOSTON—Since its launch in 2012 by the Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA), the Certified Hotel Asset Manager (CHAM) program has given 34 industry members certification in their field, and it remains the only advanced certification available to accomplished hotel asset management professionals.

The program was created by leading executives and industry experts throughout the global hotel real estate community, and aims to establish industry-wide standards of excellence within the profession, while further solidifying the institutional/fiduciary role and expectations of a senior asset manager, according to HAMA. With such a small number of recipients, CHAM designees represent an exclusive group of senior hospitality professionals whose advanced knowledge in all facets of hotel ownership and operations is further validated by satisfying all CHAM designation requirements.

The designation places primary emphasis on experience in determining a candidate’s qualifications in the area of hotel asset management. To be eligible for certification, candidates must demonstrate a minimum of seven years of lead hotel asset management experience and provide letters of professional recommendation. Upon approval by the CHAM advisory panel, the candidate may take the CHAM exam as the final step in the CHAM certification process.

The four-hour CHAM exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering six key areas of knowledge: the asset management process, operations, real estate and the physical asset, contracts and legal aspects, benchmarking and the investment decision. CHAM candidates receive a comprehensive content guide to assist in studying for the exam, and an accompanying resource guide with more than 40 reference materials. Once certified, candidates are required to recertify every five years, to ensure ongoing, active involvement in the hospitality asset management field.

The certification has been a major benefit for those who have achieved it—and the firms they work for.

“The CHAM [designation]has become an integral part of our team’s training and a rite of passage within our group, where we look to employ the best and the brightest in the field of asset management,” said Chad Crandell, managing director/CEO, CHMWarnick, a third-party hotel asset management and owner advisory services firm, which has the most CHAM recipients—six, including Crandell—of any company. “Our expectation is that each of our asset managers will aspire to take and pass the exam as they develop the skills necessary to advance in this highly complex and multifaceted discipline.”

Melissa Silvers, principal, SCS Lodging Advisors, herself a CHAM designee, was the HAMA board member who spearheaded the program. “The CHAM designation has helped me attain more asset management contracts,” she said. “It has increased my value to my company and made owners that I work with feel confident that I know hotel asset management. The actual exam helped me confirm the areas of hotel asset management where I am an ‘expert’ and to point out the areas where I have opportunity.”

The designation is still gaining traction in the industry. “It is still somewhat new relative to the broader hospitality industry,” said CHAM designee Rich Niedbala, SVP of asset management, Lodging Capital Partners LLC. “However, it is recognized by organizations that are active asset managers. Further, those companies that have CHAM designees on staff enjoy the boost to reputation having a recognized expert on their staff creates.”

Crandell said he is proud to see what the CHAM program has become and its effect on the industry. “Having been a part of the committee that developed the CHAM designation, it has been rewarding to witness the evolution of asset management within the hospitality industry, in large part through the incredible work of HAMA’s leadership and members,” he said. “The CHAM designation has gained recognition on a global scale for the level of expertise required to effectively asset manage in today’s complex operating environment. It provides not only a tangible goal for my asset management team, but also assurance to clients that we are true experts in our craft, which has been invaluable to our business.”

Michelle Russo, founder/CEO of HotelAVE, said the designation—which she has achieved personally—has helped her business. “From an employer perspective, the designation represents seniority in asset management,” she said. “When we explain the criteria to clients, it establishes instant credibility. It also is an important criterion that we expect all our SVPs to achieve, and it is in their MBOs when they meet the eligibility requirements.” HB

To see content in magazine format, click here.