Pivoting For Pandemic Success With Lessons Learned From Newport Hospitality Group

Posted: Mar 18, 2021

“You take the business wherever and whichever way it comes, but you need to be prepared to serve it,” started Andrew Carey, CEO of Newport Hospitality Group (NHG), during our latest conversation. Having known Carey for over two decades, I reconnected with him to deep dive on how the company and its managed properties were fairing during these topsy-turvy times. As background, NHG is a property management and development company with over 50 properties under its belt primarily along the Eastern Seaboard.

One of the more remarkable qualities of NHG is that during the 2008 recession its RevPAR figures were significantly above those for each equivalent market, and now we’re seeing a similar story play out during this ongoing pandemic. The company has added 11 new managed hotels this calendar year, representing a growth of 27.5% during the pandemic.

“What we learned from the 2008-2009 downturn was that you don’t hunker down, you double down,” Carey continued. “And we’ve adapted the playbook we developed 12 years ago to today’s situation. We saw an opportunity to have our hotels be first back into the market following the lockdowns in Spring 2020 by not furloughing management and instead reinvigorating our engagement with the on-property teams so that they could quickly pivot in response to any week-over-week COVID-19 change.”

It’s this perpetual opportunity-seeking strategy that really amazes me because it gives hope for our industry’s recovery and for the countless team members that hotels around the world have had to let go to stay afloat.

The case study of NHG shows that sweeping furloughs are but a temporary salve, one that doesn’t set a hotel up for success later on down the road when revenue opportunities start to pop back up. While the buzzy business term of ‘pivoting’ is so often overused, here it is totally relevant in that hotels need people already in place in order to be ready for a shift to new market conditions and client demands.

By Larry Mogelonsky
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