Trigild Builds Tech, Labor Into Business Plan

SAN DIEGO? Bill Hoffman, president/CEO of Trigild Management Co., is tackling the technology and labor issues facing the industry in a number of creative ways. What started out primarily as a management company 25 years ago is now just one spear of a corporate trident that also includes Trigild Technology and Trident Corp. Trigild Technology is a technology company that serves as a consultancy to hotel and other types of companies when it comes to linking technology elements throughout a property. Trigild Corp. is the entity that employs all 600 staffers under the Trigild umbrella, including hotel employees who are working at the 20 or so properties managed by Trigild nationwide. Through the Trigild Corp., Hoffman is trying to enhance the training and benefit packages he provides his employees, a goal he said is necessary to succeed in today?s tough labor market. The fact that Trigild may be pulling resources from each of these three companies when it manages hotel properties is transparent to the client, said Hoffman. And the companies are utilized in different ways. ?We have some clients for whom technology is not as important, for others it is very important,? he said. ?Trigild Technology got started four years ago because of our frustration over having to talk to 12 different people to get something done,? said Hoffman. He explained that because so many different technology vendors are often needed to supply a hotel?s operations platform, there is sometimes confusion over whose responsibility is whose when it comes to resolving issues. ?So we founded a company to make one source for a hotel operator to call. We can develop websites, e-commerce, help them switch from one network to another, or help them with high-speed Internet access,? said Hoffman. Trigild does not actually select the technology providers for the hotels it works with, but it does help to integrate the systems through the use of its engineers and technicians, he said, noting that Trigild Management does not necessarily have to manage the property that Trigild Technology is serving. Hoffman last year had tackled another issue facing hotels, that of providing high-speed, in-room Internet technology. He had started a company that would provide such a service, but since then has decided not to take that route. ?There are too many companies out there fighting over providing the service who are spending too much on marketing dollars,? he said. Labor is another serious issue for management companies, said Hoffman. ?The most serious part of the problem is that employees have a great deal of flexibility, they can come and go when they feel like it and they can always find another job,? he said. ?Employees are not just looking for the money, you have to develop a corporate culture to make your company a better place to work for.? For that reason, Hoffman said that the employees in his company, the newest desk clerk, for example, receives the same benefits Hoffman does as they are both employed by the same company, Trigild Corp. As for Trigild Management, Hoffman said that it is more than the turnaround company it became known as during the downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s. ?We are not a turnaround company, we are a management company,? he pointed out. One benefit of having gone through the experience of turning around distressed properties, he said, was that he learned how to get employees to stay at a property that was financially ailing. ?If you can do that, the rest is easy,? he said. New Contracts Trigild?s portfolio today consists of 22 properties, with that number set to grow to 30 by summer with a series of new, individual contracts. The bulk of the current portfolio is in the western United States. Hoffman said throughout Trigild?s tenure, however, the portfolio has covered much of the country. The vast majority of them are in the 150- to 250-room range, and tend to be more limited service than full service, although the portfolio does co