SAN ANTONIO—My Place Hotels of America LLC last month welcomed nearly 200 franchisees at its convention, which the brand held at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa—about 17 miles from downtown San Antonio. Throughout the conference, the economy extended-stay brand gave franchisees a look into its future.
Hours after hitting the golf course with franchisees, My Place CEO Ryan Rivett, who was appointed to his post in May 2017, briefly set expectations for franchisees: “What we’re going to do is share some stuff with you guys about the culture of My Place, about how it’s grown, about how we’ve grown, and try not to overload you with content but, hopefully, have you guys walking away from here with as much ammunition and as much information as you can have to continue selling My Place as you all have done so well since we began.”
Staying true to Rivett’s words, Sarah Dinger, VP of brand management at My Place, presented new and upcoming programs and platforms. “As some of you may know, I was the very first employee at My Place, so I’ve had the opportunity to witness so much growth year after year,” she said during the “What’s New!” segment before following her remarks with several updates.
One of its more notable changes, My Place recently switched PMS solution providers. “Although we were mostly happy with our previous system, we are always looking for opportunities to improve our platforms and our system offerings,” Dinger explained. “With our fast growth and commitment to excellence, our need for a scalable and reliable property management system becomes more crucial every day.” Attempting to create operational efficiencies, increase guest security and enhance guest experiences, the brand partnered with Southlake, TX-based Sabre Hospitality Solutions.
The SynXis PM is designed to make it easier for GMs to provide staff system training to employees. The platform training and testing curriculum is built right inside of Sabre’s PMS platform. The change to the new PMS will also enable My Place to integrate the brand’s “loyalty program into operation with less development on the back end, which is phenomenal,” Dinger said.
To further strengthen its relationship with guests, My Place entered into an agreement with Fort Worth, TX-based Digital Alchemy, a hospitality CRM solutions provider, in November 2016. “Through our partnership with Digital Alchemy, we’ve been able to continue to build relationships with our guests from the minute they book their stay,” she said. This partnership has enabled My Place to launch email marketing campaigns to repeat guests, offering them exclusive deals.
“Through our email marketing campaigns we were able to send more than 189,000 emails and our open rate on those emails was 18%, which is outstanding, considering the industry average is 13%,” she said. “The guests who receive those emails booked more than 4,000 room nights and generated more than $300,000 in total revenue.”
My Place has also been working to increase property visibility online. The brand recently partnered with Yext, a New York City-based business management solutions company, to ensure property information remains uniform across all platforms. There are now 3,600-plus My Place reviews on TripAdvisor, up 100% since last year’s convention, and the average property review is 4.5 out of 5. And 90% of My Place’s reviews on TripAdvisor are responded to by the respective properties.
Which markets is My Place focusing development efforts on? “From a franchise development perspective, I’d like to say all of them, and I think we’re proving that as we go along,” said Terry Kline, EVP of franchise development at My Place.
Rivett, who shared the stage with Kline, noted increases in top-line performance: Occupancy has increased by 3% year-over-year and ADR has increased by 6.5% during the same time period. My Place’s franchisees and operators are the ones responsible for the ongoing success, the CEO said.
The brand opened 11 properties and sold 20 franchises in 2014; opened 21 properties and sold 30 franchises in 2015; and opened 28 properties and sold 40 franchises in 2016. “In the next couple of months, we’ll be at 38 properties open and 52 franchises sold,” Rivett noted. “By end of year next year, we should be around 63 properties open and 86 [franchises sold], and by mid-year 2019, we can project the 100th property based on a specific conversation that’s going on right now at this moment.” It seems the brand’s expected timing on its 100th franchise agreement couldn’t be better: Set for spring 2019, My Place’s next conference will be held in San Diego. HB
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My Place CEO talks multiple brand expansion
SAN ANTONIO—My Place Hotels of America LLC is working on a new brand, confirmed Ryan Rivett, CEO, in a one-on-one interview with Hotel Business. My Place’s top executive also provided insight on the likelihood of the company taking on conversion projects in the future, how the extended-stay segment can improve its standing in the U.S. lodging market and top advice he’s received from his grandfather on being a successful CEO of a hotel brand.
Rivett, who first made note of the possibility of a second brand in May 2017, shortly after being appointed CEO, didn’t provide too many additional details on the project; however, he did say the new brand will be a “complementary product to the core brand.” When comparing the new brand’s launch timeline to the proof of concept period prior to launching the franchise system, the company’s CEO suggested the former’s time frame would be “a lot shorter.”
“We like to take the crawl-before-we-walk approach, so that when we go to the market with what we have it’s tremendous—just like what we’ve got today,” he explained. “Work is ongoing. It’s challenging, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Known for being an all-new-construction brand, My Place hasn’t strayed from this strategy—at least for now. In May 2017, Rivett had told Hotel Business that there was “a lot of interest and a lot of requests for conversions.” Despite that being the case for the company at the time, he added, “We maintain our resolve in being an all-new-construction brand.” Revisiting the topic at My Place’s convention, the CEO recognized the possibility of opportunity in hotel conversions.
“My position on it is that we will maintain the integrity of the core brand and the new brand that we might develop with all-new construction, but My Place may have another product someday that’s just focused on conversions,” he explained. “We’re not working on that at this point—just because there’s too many other things to work on—but I think there’s opportunity there.
“As we watch product from the last cycle and the current cycle begin to come through renewal dates and come through some areas, there may be an opportunity in the future for some really great-quality conversion product that we’d be tempted to take a look at under the guise of another platform,” he said.
Rivett believes players in the extended-stay segment can flourish by improving the quality of product in a larger proportion and expanding the flexibility. He explained, “Many hoteliers in the extended-stay segment are following the only extended-stay model. You’ve seen that start to shift in some of the other primary brands today, but I think there’s still more that need to follow that.” While these adjustments would make the segment itself more competitive overall for My Place, the company’s CEO is up for the challenge because he believes there’s “value in that because it improves the public perception of the arena that we’re playing in.”
My Place’s CEO doesn’t plan to stray from the brand’s core principles and values anytime soon—or ever, for that matter. To succeed as a leader, he believes one must always remember the beginnings, the early stages and the framework the company was built upon. While he has received plenty of advice from his grandfather, Ron Rivett, who co-founded both Super 8 and My Place, about being the top executive of a hotel brand, there’s one kernel of wisdom that he keeps front of mind on a daily basis: “Your focus is on growing, but you have to maintain a heavy focus on not letting what got you to this point change.”