ATLANTA—Hotel Equities (HE) is turning 30 this year, and its success is evident through its portfolio growth, dedication to its employees and outlook for its future.
“Our culture displays itself throughout the company’s many achievements,” said Fred Cerrone, founder and chairman of Hotel Equities. “Our turnover rate runs about half of the industry average. We think that stems from one of our goal statements, which defines success as this: ‘Success is defined not by how many times you cross the goal line, but by how many people you carry with you.’”
Cerrone founded Hotel Equities (originally called Day Hospitality Group) in 1989; shortly thereafter, Marriott International tapped the hotel management company as one of its first franchise partners. In 2012, he went on to co-found Hotel Development Partners (HDP)—an Atlanta-based joint venture between Hotel Equities, IRE Capital and McCarthy Investments to acquire and develop premier-branded hotels.
“We will continue to set goals and strive to get better and better. If we continue to adapt to changes in the industry, identifying areas along the way where we can meet a need or add value, then we will remain relevant,” Cerrone said.
One of the top challenges HE faced over the years includes the economic downturn in 2008, but unlike many of its competitors, the management company reacted differently. “We were one of the few companies that did not let any associates go,” he said. “Instead, we focused on building an even stronger company foundation, including a more robust training curriculum.”
Looking back on the 30 years Hotel Equities has been in business, what has changed primarily is its size, reach within the industry and additional resources. “Larger footprint means added infrastructure—enhanced systems and BI tools, new accounting software, advanced HR systems, better communication tools and more emphasis on social media,” he said.
Culturally, the company has changed, too, but not significantly; Hotel Equities has done its best to stay true to itself.
“We are more protective of our culture today than we were initially,” he said. “We are more particular about who we partner with, making sure we are aligned in culture and goals.”
Culture is what has differentiated Hotel Equities from its competitors over the years, according to its founder—and that is where the company has continued to focus its efforts.
“We believe all companies have a culture, whether its leaders realize it or not,” Cerrone said. “It boils down to two common denominators: All companies have a culture that is either healthy or unhealthy. We have set out from day one with the intent to develop and sustain a healthy culture, in which people come together with their varying gifts and talents, to be nurtured and fed in an effort to benefit all involved in a team-focused effort of achieving important pre-established goals, which benefit all key stakeholders.”
Part of that dedication to company culture is taking care of associates when they go above and beyond for not only the company, but customers.
“Our commitment to our associates is that we will always try to promote from within as new openings and opportunities arise,” he said. “We ask our associates to make a commitment in return that they will utilize the available training programs and be diligent to prepare for their next promotion.”
Hotel Equities offers its associates five training programs, which has “allowed us to grow,” Cerrone said. One example of the company’s programs is the company’s management development program (MDP) for internal candidates, many of whom worked up from hourly positions. Since the beginning of the program, 66 associates have graduated. Twenty-five percent of Hotel Equities’ properties are led by an MDP graduate or have an MDP graduate in a property leadership position.
“We’re immensely proud of reaching the 30-year milestone,” said Brad Rahinsky, president and CEO of Hotel Equities. “It affirms our position as a leader in the industry and creates a platform for us to continue to build upon as we grow and evolve over the next 30 years. We’ll use this milestone as a compass to help keep us focused on what got us here: honoring God, servant leadership and industry-leading results for our key stakeholders.”
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Hotel Equities has followed through with some marketing initiatives to help promote the landmark. “We created an anniversary logo to recognize the milestone,” Cerrone said. “The anniversary logo will be used for an entire year. We are also doing a social media feature—30 social media posts for 30 consecutive days, spotlighting major milestones from 1989 to present day. The last one will be posted on our anniversary date. We are also having a kind of birthday celebration at our August Coach’s Meeting to celebrate with our leadership team.”
“Thirty years in, the future has never been brighter,” Rahinsky said. “We will continue to grow and execute our vision through a best-in-class team of passionate professionals. When you boil it down, it’s still all about the people and giving them the support and resources they need to execute the plan. We have never been in a better position to fulfill those commitments than we are today.”
Today, Hotel Equities’ portfolio—made up of Marriott, Hilton and IHG brands, as well as independent and boutique hotels—has 142 properties, many of which are select-service properties (only 16% of the company’s properties are full-service) throughout the United States and Canada.
“Being partners with a man you genuinely care about, love and trust is a great way to wake up every day,” Rahinsky said. “His humility, selfless giving and love for our business and the people that make it go is inspiring. Being able to watch his leadership firsthand over the last eight years and learn from those moments has made all the difference.”
“Like most milestone dates, there are some days when it feels like it took place just yesterday and others when it feels like a long time ago,” Cerrone said. “Generally speaking, I feel like a blessed man to have been so fortunate to have been surrounded by very talented people who have come along side of me, with the goal of creating a different kind of company, and one that makes a difference.” HB