HB ON THE SCENE: After Record Year, AmericInn Ready for Another Round

LAS VEGAS—So what do Bruno Mars and AmericInn have in common? According to the lodging chain’s president/CEO Paul Kirwin, who yesterday channeled the pop star’s amped-up dance moves in a hip-hop routine to open the 2017 AmericInn Convention and Trade Show here at Bally’s, it’s the key attributes of persistence, improvement and dedication to history, legacy and identity.

“I’m no Bruno Mars,” gasped the executive, catching his breath after divesting his gold lamé jacket and back-up dancers to address the crowd of some 350 owners and managers. “But he’s quite an exceptional guy and in a lot of ways, a role model for us at AmericInn and each of us as individuals.”

While an odd symbiosis at first glance, the CEO gave a synopsis of Mars’ struggles to get to the superstardom he currently enjoys, noting the musician’s commitment to continuous improvement, adaptation and evolution, and suggested parallels to the midscale chain’s growth and expansion.

Kirwin also cited the conference’s theme of “Delight and Deliver” as an “in-your-face statement” about the brand’s commitment to service, stressing it was “a hallmark” of AmericInn and in its DNA. “It’s critical that we recommit to that legacy,” he said, also emphasizing the same for the chain’s self-description as “America’s Welcoming Neighbor.”

That said, the CEO termed 2016 “a very successful year,” setting a record in terms of revenue, which came in at $220 million systemwide, with comp unit RevPAR growth just over one percent. He noted there were three categories that created a drag on occupancy, primarily properties in the so-called “oil patches” in states like Oklahoma, Texas and North Dakota; the trickle down in agricultural areas where farm prices have taken a beating; and supply growth in larger markets.

“We were happy, all in all, that occupancy was flat, given those challenges. What really drove the growth in comp unit RevPAR was our performance on ADR; we did an all-time high of $94,” said Kirwin.

He added, “Although the Midwest region, which is largely where we compete, was softer than some other areas of the country in hotel performance, our market share improved to 112%.”

Citing another performance metric—brand contribution—the CEO said 55% of system revenue went though brand channels, such as AI.com [AmericInn.com], which grew by 14%. “We want to get it much higher and we’re absolutely committed to doing that,” said Kirwin, telling the audience that “we’ve got to work together to invest in the growth of AI.com traffic because it’s the clear road to higher profitability for us in the future.”

In addition, the chain’s loyalty program, Easy Rewards, hit an all-time high contribution of 34% and increased by 80,000 new members.

Looking ahead, Kirwin anticipates a strong summer season and the debut of the company’s first television advertising campaign, and urged attendees to “make hay” in the upcoming season.

(Look for more coverage and photos of AmericInn’s 2017 Conference in the April 21 issue of Hotel Business.)