HB EXCLUSIVE: Prism Hotels & Resorts sets its sights on 50 hotels

DALLAS—Despite the saying that everything is bigger in Texas, Prism Hotels & Resorts isn’t afraid to keep things small. Under 40 properties, the Prism portfolio keeps the company’s employees and owners satisfied with the results; however, Prism has its sights set on more, but, frankly, not too much more.

“Our focus is on most satisfied owners who acquire hotels and wisely choose us to maximize NOI performance for them,” said Prism Hotels & Resorts President and CEO Steve Van, who founded the full-service hotel management, investment and advisory services company in 1983—after building, buying, repositioning and operating luxury properties in Texas with a small group of partners in the early 1980s.

Prism’s portfolio has a total of 38 hotels with 6,374 rooms. “We believe 50 hotels is the right number for us in the next few years,” he said. “Our pipeline will get us there, with 10 new committed major hotels already for next year.” The hospitality company manages properties associated with a wide range of brands, including Hyatt Regency, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Embassy Suites by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hyatt Place and Hyatt House. As for brand growth, Prism is currently working with Home2Suites, Tapestry and Hyatt Centric.

“Each of these newer products was thoroughly researched and well thought out by the brands and are proving to be successful for our owners,” Van said.

Some of Prism’s properties include Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center; Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport; DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Tucson Williams Center; Embassy Suites by Hilton Oklahoma City; Tru By Hilton Las Vegas Airport; Hyatt Place Seattle Downtown; and Hyatt House Seattle Downtown.

“This year has been a turning point for us as a company,” he said. “We went head to head with the biggest and best management companies in the industry on high-profile assignments and consistently prevailed.”

The management company is known for its “ecstatically happy owners and incredibly performing hotels,” and that’s why potential clients invite Prism to the table to make deals in the first place, he said.

There are several reasons why the company has continued to win new opportunities over the years, according to Van: its personal connections; its employees are the most satisfied; and the “brands love” Prism.

“Our entrepreneurs want personal attention and time commitment from our executive team,” Van said. “With 38 hotels, we can guarantee that. It’s something owners can’t possibly get from a company with 100 or 300 or 700 hotels. That’s why we are eight for eight so far this year in RFPs competing against the top 10 third-party managers. Our top six executives are each partners and significant owners in Prism—none of our competitors can say that.”

Employees have repeatedly given Prism high scores on its company-wide associate engagement survey (all Prism properties have scores higher than 92%), Van said.

Steve Van Prism Hotels & Resorts

“This is the secret to recruiting and retaining the best talent,” he said. “Our turnover is industry low. We believe that is great for our owners.”

In August, Prism created new positions to help assist with its growing portfolio. The company promoted Ghee Alexander from GM of El Conquistador Tucson, a Hilton Resort, to SVP of operations, and hired Jeff Miller as corporate regional director of sales.

“We spend a significant amount of time on training and motivating employees,” Van said. “Our exceptional employee satisfaction scores mentioned previously are largely due to the quality training we have for employees to help them improve their career opportunities.”

For example, Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport, one of Prism’s hotels, applied for an UpSkill America grant and received $100,000 as a result. “This saved our owners money, highly motivated our employees and led to better guest satisfaction,” he said. The property will use the grant money to help the property’s employees improve their skills and learn English as a second language.

“The most important trend, which has the greatest impact on our owners’ bottom line, is the tightening labor market,” he said. “This trend will continue because of both demographics and our current restrictive immigration policy. Our major source of finding quality associates, which is particularly important during these times of tight labor markets, is referrals from our very satisfied existing employees.”

The majority of Prism’s business comes from the brands. “For a mid-sized company, we have won more industry awards than our peers,” he said. Recently, Prism won the Best Full-Service Operator in the Americas from Hyatt and the Connie Pride Merit Award from Hilton.

“We are passionate about being the best brand citizens, and the brands reciprocate by referring owners to us,” he said.

Prism attributes its success to its ability to tailor its services to accommodate what owners want. “We also don’t send a ‘pitch team’ to meet potential clients, we send the entire leadership team,” he said. The hospitality company also sends all six of its partners.

“We are entrepreneurs who specialize in running hotels for owners who are entrepreneurs, and not (and may never be) large portfolio investors,” Van said. “The majority of our clients own between one to five hotels and, oftentimes, hotels are not their primary investment class. They appreciate our personal attention to their hotels, the operating power we bring and the alignment of business values we share—just get it done.”

Prism’s most recent management contracts include a Hyatt Centric property; a Hyatt House property; a Hyatt Place property; another dual-branded Hyatt House and Hyatt Place property; two new Hampton properties; a new-build independent property; and three NYLO properties. These properties can be found throughout the United States.

“We already have six new Hilton-branded hotels and three Hyatts scheduled to open in 2019,” he said. “We will continue to participate in RFPs for additional quality hotels and hope to keep up our winning track record. Most of our efforts next year will be focusing on our owner satisfaction and our employee engagement. That’s the core driver of our success, and that’s where we invest our time and money.” HB

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