Atlanta-based Hospitality Ventures Management Group (HVMG), a privately owned hotel ownership and management company, recently named Amanda Chivers as its new corporate director of acquisition and business development. In this role, Chivers will assist in identifying and acquiring existing hotels, securing third party management assignments and supporting ground-up construction projects, as well as assisting with the overall growth of owned and managed assets. Chivers was previously an asset manager specializing in non- or under-performing hotels with TriMont Real Estate Advisors, and also served as director of real estate transactions for Moody National Companies. We spoke her about her new job and her view of today’s lodging sector.
Q: How would you categorize the current state of the U.S. hotel industry?
Amanda Chivers: Overall, it’s a very active market place. For the most part, I would categorize it as a near state of equilibrium between buyers and sellers.
It’s very competitive right now, with everyone looking for the right deal in the right market. What’s more, funding has grown easier to come by, making things that much more lively. Regardless on one’s strategy, now is a great time to be in the hotel industry.
Q: What do you see as some of the primary reasons that certain hotels fall into the categories of non-performing or under-performing assets?
Amanda Chivers: Without question, one of the largest contributors is overleveraging. While everyone hopefully learned the lessons of past, we still see groups taking on too much debt or simply wanting to deploy funds from one asset into another.
In other cases, however, it’s simply a matter of timing. Certain hotels were acquired at the height of the market and have not regained that value yet. The asset could be performing quite well, but the market just hasn’t rebounded completely.
And, in other cases, there’s too much supply in the market. Fortunately, once that new supply stabilizes, and ADR can grow, values should return.
Q: Part of your new duties at HVMG will be overseeing the ground-up construction of new hotels. What markets appear to be the best locations to support the creation of new lodging venues?
Amanda Chivers: Both urban and suburban markets are attractive for different reasons. Urban locations with high barriers to entry remain highly sought after assets, particularly where additional funding, including renovations and/or flag changes can reinvigorate the hotel.
In the suburban markets, new demand generators constantly are popping up, allowing for both new development and/or product improvements. At HVMG, we are pursuing both opportunities.
Q: If the economy remains unsteady into 2015 and Americans continue to experience a tightening of their personal finances, what impact will that have on the hotel industry?
Amanda Chivers: I will take the optimist’s viewpoint here, as I believe that the immediate future looks pretty bright. A number of markets contain a great deal of pent-up demand. Even if we see a slight decrease in transient demand, the industry continues to experience group growth.
While the industry might grow at a slightly slower rate or we may not be able to push ADR as quickly as we’d like, barring any major, unforeseen issues, I’m optimistic about the next 12 to 18 months in the hotel industry.
HVMG is online at www.hvmg.com
Phil Hall has been (among other things) a United Nations-based radio journalist, the president of a public relations and marketing agency, a financial magazine editor, the author of six books and a horror movie actor. Also, as you will discover, he is not shy about stating his views.