December 5, 2023


It's time to think about Travel.

Legacy Hotelier Robert Cole on Standing Out by Standing Firm


Robert Cole, CEO and president of Hospitality Ventures Management Team (HVMG), was born to be a hotelier—literally. His mom and dad had currently opened their 1st house in Rochester, New York, when he came alongside. However, as he told LODGING, commencing with all he arrived to really like about the life of a hotelier in a family members organization, he has even so solid his possess position in the marketplace as the founder and head of a enterprise that not long ago marked its 20th anniversary. Cole’s dad and mom became what could be called “serial motel owners” soon after receiving the hospitality bug. “They weren’t multi-property operators. They would order, run, and provide one property, then move to the following one.” This, he claims, meant the relatives moved, too, from Rochester, to Albany, New York, to Maryland, and Florida.

Evidently, getting saddled with the standard resort owners’ kid chores—cleaning rooms and the pool and chopping the grass—didn’t change Cole off to the hospitality everyday living. In simple fact, he signed up for far more of the same, majoring in lodge administration at the University of New Hampshire.

Through higher education and just after, he uncovered other sides of the business at a string of accommodations: functioning the evening audit and the entrance desk between classes, then, right after university, as an assistant supervisor at a vacation resort in the White Mountains, and then normal supervisor at a Getaway Inn in Kentucky.

Cole diverged from his parents’ path most definitively when he shaped the to start with of his a few providers, Impac Resort Team, which grew from one assets to 55 throughout the 1990s just before handling Servico in 1998 to sort Lodgian with a portfolio of 143 attributes. Then, in 2001, Cole commenced HVMG with a solitary Fairfield Inn in Portland, Maine by 2015, it had grown to 43 houses. These days, the organization has 56 resorts in its portfolio, a minor far more than 50 percent of which are complete provider the relaxation are pick company.

Cole statements “the shorter answer” to why HVMG experienced its greatest year on record in 2021—when it additional 16 of those people properties—while so numerous businesses struggled is rooted in its goal, something he and his senior administration delved into a number of a long time in the past for the duration of a strategic arranging session, “After a number of hours of collaboration, we settled on what we determined to be our motive for existing—to be fantastic in all we worth and all we do, so our associates, attendees, and associates like us.”

What this boils down to, he states, is placing a large benefit on expertise and relationships, which in switch travel overall performance. “It was our talent and aim on relationships that enabled us to stand all through people seeking instances,” he comments.

And stand out they did. “Our portfolio total outperformed the business by more than 400 basis factors, and its full-company inns outperformed the relaxation of the sector by 600 foundation points,” he notes. Cole says HVMG actually added 25 new lodges via takeover or acquisition, but nine of those people, “we labored ourselves up marketing all those attributes.” Cole hastens to make clear that his company’s “be excellent” motto is most of all a attitude, a prevalent thread during the organization. “The goal is not so much to be perfect—we all make mistakes—but to wake up each morning and say, ‘I’m heading to attempt to be excellent.’”

He states the company’s technique to development and accomplishment is grounded in its “be excellent” culture. “We hire and teach to that society. It is important that all of our leaders—not just on the corporate staff, but the GMs and all of our hotel section heads—truly embrace that mentality.”

Beyond this culture is the company’s “secret sauce,” which is barely a secret: “It’s how you execute,” Cole notes. HVMG’s by-the-reserve execution is laid out actually in tailored “playbooks” that the team makes for every single assets. “Of program, there are typical standardized procedures and methods to be executed and carried out at each and every hotel, but we also build person playbooks for each and every transaction that consist of a set of tactics that are customized based on the wants of the asset and up-to-date weekly to be sure we’re on observe.”

Cole sees his enterprise as it is now as appropriate-sided. “We’re huge more than enough to give all the methods, infrastructure, and resources that companies quite a few instances our sizing can offer, but we’re tiny enough the place relationships matter, so we can give individualized, tailored company, giving house owners accessibility to senior administration.” Nevertheless, he is fast to point out, advancement is crucial not just to him personally but also to the overall health and wellbeing of the organization and its workers. “I’m a offer dude at heart, so I appreciate dealing with transactions, but over and above that, men and women like operating for a rising organization the place there are advertising or relocation prospects if they develop and do very well. So, we really do not increase just to test to produce a larger company. We also grow being aware of that it makes it possible for us to provide on more sources and to entice top rated talent.”

As Cole sees it, even with its challenges—which were on comprehensive display screen through the three downturns he’s weathered as properly as the pandemic—the existence he was born into nevertheless suits him just wonderful. “It’s genuinely a person of the couple of industries that allow you to get the job done with so quite a few various aspects. There are the people—our associates, guests, makes, owners, investors, communities, and other stakeholders—but there is also the do the job with data, authentic estate, and so considerably a lot more.” What these multifaceted aspects necessarily mean to him is a do the job-existence that is nearly anything but monotonous. “Every single day delivers a new problem, a new opportunity—whether it’s for trouble-solving or recognizing your star performers, or regardless of what it may possibly be. It’s most of all the wide range that drives me. That and my DNA it’s in my genes to enjoy this business enterprise, just as my mother and father did.”

Classes Discovered

The COVID-19 pandemic was not the to start with main downturn HVMG President and CEO Robert Cole experienced to navigate and direct by way of, but he suggests its quite suddenness and severity pressured him and his sector friends to make difficult decisions. “In a subject of just seven times, we went from a business with 3,000 staff members to just underneath 500.”

Cole displays back on how the workforce responded through these uncertain moments. “Like a good deal of organizations, we didn’t know the place the base would be and how long it would just take to get well and stabilize, so we briefly tried our hand at REO and receivership promotions.” Nevertheless, he claims, they understood they just “couldn’t be everything to everyone” and went again to what they built their company on: associations. “We decided to target on acquisition exercise and performing with homeowners on sourcing discounts for them if, for illustration, they need an operator or wished to get a hotel.”

He suggests what he learned at this time primarily underscored what he currently knew—“The real takeaway that obtained reinforced was this: We do serious estate discounts and we do transactions, but at the stop of the day, what we do is really about the folks, so everything have to be centered and grounded in how we can better guidance that talent.” Knowing this, Cole states, his very own career is easy. “I just need to surround myself with gifted, hardworking men and women, established mutually agreed-upon targets to which they are accountable, and then give them the autonomy to do what they do finest.”


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