Client-Employee Rapport Is Important Part Of Bon Management Group?s Operating Method

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA? A personal approach to management has helped Bon Management Group remain successful since it was established in 1983, according to Jane Gorney, president of the company. Gorney got her start in the hotel industry nearly 27 years ago as a secretary for Brown Motel Investments. That firm was founded in 1948 by David Brown and eventually owned by George A. and George E. Brown. Bon Management Group was launched to manage some of Brown?s holdings. There were initially six Bon partners including George E. and George A. Brown, Gorney, Mike Brown, Chuck Nester and Dean Thompson. Thompson and Gorney shared a common thread, in that neither of them was a part of the Brown family. Thompson was eventually bought out as he became less involved in the company and its operations. Today Bon manages nine hotels, most of which are about 200 units in size, Gorney said, but noted that larger properties can be accommodated. The firm will ?look at anything that comes our way,? she said. ?If it makes sense, we?ll do it, but sometimes it just doesn?t make sense for us or for the owner and in those cases we won?t do it.? The nine properties Bon manages are full- or limited-service with about half that are individually owned and the other half franchised. They are located in Arizona, Michigan and Texas. Hotel brands that Bon is currently working with or has worked with in the past include Embassy Suites, Ramada Inn, Best Western, Hampton Inn, Travelodge, Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn and Rodeway Inn. In addition, Bon has ?successfully managed independents as well,? Gorney noted. Gorney anticipates picking up three more management contracts this year. Over the years, Bon has faced a variety of challenges, some of them very unique. For example, following the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in the mid 1980s, business fell off dramatically near the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. At that time, Vandenburg was being prepped for the landing and launching of space shuttles, according to Gorney, and is still the only western location from which anything can be launched into solar orbit. ?However, once the Challenger exploded, the space shuttle program was put on hold and there was no longer enough diversity in the area to keep the hotels full,? she said. To compensate, Bon had to put forth extra effort in order to draw new clientele to the area. The biggest challenge Bon now faces is reacting to changes in market conditions and guest preferences, Gorney indicated. As an example, she noted that phone revenue is down substantially as guests are more apt to use their cellular phones or the Internet as primary means of communication. She added that in-room Internet access is a guest service that is helping to attract a more sophisticated client base. As Bon Management Group is a small company operating in a very competitive market, Gorney does not rule out a merger in the future with possibly a larger company. ?If the right opportunity presented itself, we would certainly, at least, consider it. But we?re not actively seeking to merge,? she said. Bon has always taken a personal approach to property management and ?that is something that we don?t want to lose,? Gorney said. ?We?ve got a longevity in our staff and our clients like the fact that they speak to the same people all of the time. The personal rapport that our employees have with our clients provides a certain level of comfort for everyone. It makes things easier in general to do business this way,? she added.