Executives with Charlestowne Hotels said the company sees its deal with development company The Thrash Group as an opportunity to grow its portfolio on the West Coast and “amplify” Thrash’s Origin brand across the country.
CHARLESTON, South Carolina—Charlestowne Hotels signed a deal with development company The Thrash Group on 1 June to oversee its entire portfolio of hotels, and Charlestowne executives say it’s the largest deal in the management company’s 40-year history.
Hotel News Now spoke with Charletowne’s Michael Cady, VP of marketing, and Gavin Philipp, VP of operations, to go into the details of the deal and how it will help the company grow.
Q: What does this deal with The Thrash Group mean for Charlestowne?
Cady: “It means so much. First off, it’s the largest deal Charlestowne has ever made in our 40-year company history in terms of the number of hotels at one time with one owner … it now gets us expanding over 20 states. We now have an opportunity to take really that newly created Origin brand and help (Thrash) amplify it across the country. We'll take all of our best practices of independent hotel management, which we've been doing for decades, but now build a national independent brand across the country. We've never had that opportunity, and we're really right for doing that. There’s just so many opportunities in that, but most importantly, it actually is going to be a great opportunity for our existing employees to take on some new positions and roles. We’re all about employee growth, and this will help support that initiative for sure.”
Q: Why was now the right time for a deal like this, especially amid the pandemic and everything that’s going on with the economy?
Cady: “It sounds counterintuitive, but to us and I think a lot of owners out there, now more than ever they need a management company to guide them through these turbulent times. It would be pretty tough to do without a management company, especially a management company that's really personalized, flexible, adaptable and focused on their assets and not just a check on their list of all their hotels. I actually think it's great timing. We didn’t stall our negotiations or stall our partnership at all, even during this turbulent time, because both sides knew we'd be better together than separate. While we've had to really pay attention to a lot of COVID-related operation procedures, cleanliness, food service, service standards in general, amenities, we haven't stalled on moving this partnership.”
Q: How and where do you plan to expand Thrash’s independent lifestyle properties? Do you have any sort of timeline for when that might happen?
Cady: “A lot of our deals are word of mouth. That’s how we like it. We always like someone else telling how good we are or what our strengths are. But we will always continue, as we have for 40 years, to be careful on the kinds of hotels we select. We don't just take any contracts, and we grow smarter, not more. We're not here to be a 100-hotel company; we really kind of focus more on our values and making sure our mission is focused with the owner. Our expanding thought process … is to continue to focus more on big secondary cities that especially need independent growth or independent presence of hotels. We would love to start getting into the West Coast … that is definitely a focus for us. … And then finally, our expansion is definitely focused on university hotels. That is a niche in itself. We have quite a few, and it really takes a different kind of management company to manage university hotels.”
- Click here to read more about how Charlestowne is managing university hotels differently because of the pandemic.
Q: How are you working with Thrash with this new properties and existing properties to think about reopening efforts and new procedures that are going to come into play because of the pandemic?
Philipp: “The benefit right now is our independent nature. All but five of our hotels are already back open if they closed. We had a fair amount of hotels that stayed open throughout the pandemic, but Charlestowne Hotels worked diligently and quickly on building out a strategic approach to provide and support our hotels and our general managers amidst this pandemic, and really we took the approach of considering the customer journey. At all of the various touchpoints that a guest experiences at our hotels, what are we doing differently? What are we providing them? What are the new cleaning and sanitization standards? Taking the customer journey from prearrival all the way through departure, what’s different with the prearrival call and everything we’re reviewing with the guest before they get to the hotel? What’s different about the arrival in terms of social distancing and cleaning and sanitation and what we're what we are now providing in our food and beverage spaces. What's different about that experience? By building it out that way, it allowed us to have some semblance of structure across our portfolio, but still allowing each hotel to do what's right for their property, for their guests based on their environment within those confines, so we really have found it to be quite successful. We're getting phenomenal guest feedback thus far about the experience in these new normal operations at our hotels. Secondarily, we’re pretty fortunate with the locations and markets that our hotels exist in terms of the regional drive-market nature of a lot of our properties and feel that in many cases, there will be some relatively quick rebounding business levels that we're excited about.”