How to Start a Hotel Management Company

Travel has changed at a breakneck pace in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of social media influencers, peer reviews and things like Discovery's Travel Channel. With savvier-than-ever travelers and all those online reviews, service expectations have escalated too. Smart hotel management companies succeed when they know how to appease weary travelers and make them feel at home. If you think you have what it takes to ensure customers leave satisfied, hospitality management might hold opportunities for you.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

To rise to the top in hospitality management, you may need a degree in the subject, but all the book smarts in the world can't help you if you don't have practical experience in the real day-to-day front lines and behind the scenes in hospitality.

Got Skills?

Hospitality isn't just greeting guests and showing them their rooms; it's about maintaining a consistent standard 24/7/365 and ensuring your team understands that great stays are entirely in the details. It's imperative you have actual hotel experience if you want to be great in the industry.

Countless hospitality management colleges in NYC and across the country are there to help. Vocational schools can fast-track you into the industry, but there are also extended programs at plenty of university and college programs.

Like many careers, the best way to start is by growing into your role. So, work your way up from the front desk to management and then see about being a hotel management consultant as a cost-effective way to move toward beginning a company. This position allows you to network and make connections while establishing a reputation as a wise and profitable manager.

Finding the Right Market

Where do you want to operate? The location influences the prospects of your company. Identify the competition and opportunities that exist in the current market. Know why you are a superior choice for management and what value propositions can you deliver on.

The prospects for a hotel management company in Boise, Idaho, may pale when compared to a city such as New York, but NYC's established management companies offer a tough battle for a newcomer. Places like Jacksonville, Florida, though, are experiencing a tourism boom. There are always emerging markets that can be great places to begin. That's how the legendary Hilton Hotels chain began, in small and emerging markets, such as Cisco, Texas.

Hotel Management: Business Plan Brainstorming

Managing hotels includes overseeing accounting, housekeeping, guest relations, marketing, training and personnel. You need to understand local ordinances, health and safety laws, and food safety because you manage every aspect of what goes into building, marketing and maintaining travel lodgings. According to experts like leading hospitality consulting group Pinnacle Advisory, the role of hotel management companies has been evolving, and they are becoming equity holders — owning as much as 30% — in properties they manage. With the advent of Airbnb, boutique hotels and smart pod-type hotels such as in Premier Inn's Hub Hotels in the UK, travel lodgings have exploded past the hotel/motel scenario of yore.

Acquiring a management contract comes down to networking, your marketing vision, your track record with finding the right people for the jobs, your ability to prove yourself on a balance sheet by bringing in revenue, and knowing how to make customers happy.

The best way forward is to find a niche in the lodging industry that you feel your company could excel in, focusing on smaller opportunities to start. Perhaps you're all about home-grown food and luxury; you could conceivably find underperforming bed-and-breakfasts and transform them into a version of Italy's agriturismo stays that blend luxury stays with farm-to-plate experiences. Maybe you have an affinity for millennial entrepreneurs and savvy solo travelers, and you want to create a high-tech, affordable, business-friendly stay with smaller properties. A century ago, Conrad Hilton found his niche — convenient new-market lodgings for business travelers — and now 5,500 properties in 109 countries are under the Hilton brand. So, what's your hospitality management niche?

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About the Author

Steffani Cameron is a professional writer who has written for the Washington Post, Culture, Yahoo!, Canadian Traveller, and many other platforms. Some writing projects have included ghost-writing for CEOs and doing strategy white papers. She frequently writes for corporate clients representing Fortune 500 brands on subjects that include marketing, business, and social media trends.