Owners, Developers, Lenders Share Tips for Entering the Hotel Industry – CoStar – Hotel News Resource

Excerpt from CoStar

Building a Network, Overcoming Fears Are Keys to Success
Hoteliers speaking during BWH Hotel Group’s 5th Annual Women in Leadership Forum shared their journeys to becoming stakeholders within the industry and tips for overcoming barriers.
Developing or owning a hotel can be a scary endeavor, but those who have done it say it’s also rewarding.
Dipal Patel, managing director of Frisco, Texas-based Shyana Hospitality Management, started in the industry at line-level roles such as housekeeping. Over the next 25 years, she has owned, operated and developed hotels.
“Starting out acquiring or developing a hotel is a little scary but it is really rewarding,” she said, speaking during a panel at BWH Hotel Group’s Fifth Annual Women in Leadership Forum in Cleveland. “We purchased our first Best Western — we just purchased a small percentage to start with — and that’s how we got started.”
To get the ball rolling, she said it’s imperative to build relationships with lenders and ask for advice from peers, talk with developers within a desired market, see what opportunities there are and assess the cost of the project.
Speaking with community leaders can also help smooth the process.
“[Ask] what are their needs, what type of hotels are they looking for, what size. That makes permitting and zoning changes a lot easier,” she added.
Sheila Patel, founder and CEO at Tampa, Florida-based Sheldon Management, said her journey began with a Best Western franchise hotel in 1998. Along the way, she desired to invest in additional hotels and dive into new construction. She’s made a commitment to keep an eye out for commercial real estate opportunities, form relationships with brokers within her city and economic development department as well as her architect and engineer. By knowing what’s coming to her markets, it’s allowed her to acquire and develop more.
Kristen Pike, regional director of development at Phoenix, Arizona-based BWH Hotel Group, said every hotel company must continue to create and reinvent its programs with the goal of boosting female and minority entrepreneurship. BWH’s new program, Team Up, is tailored toward to that goal, she said.
“It’s a program that’s going to help incentivize females and minorities. We’re going to have royalty discounts, other financial incentives, lower reduction of fees, ongoing support, you’ll get a mentor and support through the [furniture, fixtures and equipment] process,” she said. “We’re all going to work together to make sure that you’re moving in the right direction and achieving that dream of hotel ownership, wherever it may be.” 
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