The Hotel Investment End Game: Exit Strategy

2 min read

Exit Strategy - Hotel Investments

 

Often times, when we talk about hotel development and investments, we imagine dynamic beginnings. Plans and blueprints are drawn up for new construction hotels, and investors seek promising returns on their initial investments as the hotel begins its operation. Yet, in order to be a strategic investor or owner of a hotel, it’s important to think about the end game for your investment. Being able to keep the long-term goal for your hotel investments can ensure that you do not mismanage your hotel years down the road. Poor planning at the outset might be hidden by a strong start to your hotel or investment’s life, as your investment ages, that poor planning can really cause some serious liabilities for you later.

As with many considerations with hotel investments, there are a number of key factors you should consider before even starting an investment project in an existing or new construction hotel. Unlike bonds or stocks, your hotel investment is a physical “brick and mortar” investment. Over time, there will be expected wear and tear on your hotel, and your hotel will need to go under renovation or redesigns in order to stay competitive with newer construction hotels and changing trends in customer preferences. Investors can have different strategies – where one investor may intend to continue to invest in a specific hotel for a long period of time, other investors may view the same hotel as a short-term investment. Regardless, it is smart to think ahead to your exit strategy, or how you plan to exit your investment in a specific hotel.

Hold time

The holding period for an investor is the length of time that investor holds an investment. In other words, this is the time period between the time the investment is purchased or developed, and later sold. The hold time varies greatly based on the hotel. Existing construction hotels tend to have shorter hold periods, whereas owners who newly develop a hotel tend to have longer hold periods, especially when considering the front-loaded costs to develop the hotel in the first place. This hold time also depends on the investment strategy. Investors that are looking to generate a quick source of cash-flow typically have shorter holding periods, but investors that want a larger and more cumulative return adjusted for inflation may seek to hold onto (and continue to renovate and update) their hotels for longer.

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Sometimes hotel companies sell their hotels in timely fashion before a property improvement plan (PIP) is identified by the Brand.  In a nutshell, a PIP outlines a list of improvements, modification, and general upkeep and maintenance of a hotel in upcoming years.  Hoteliers sometimes elect to sell a hotel before its PIP because they want to avoid the inconvenience and expenses associated with renovating the hotel.  Sometimes hotel companies choose to exit or sell their hotel when their license agreement with any given Brand is coming to an end.  Other hotel companies like to develop newly constructed hotels, stabilize their performance, and then sell the property for a big premium to institutional grade investors.  An exit strategy has to be realistic with the condition and age of the property.

One must be conscious of the timeline that he or she is investing in.  The goal is to time your exit strategy in strong or peak markets, while down markets and recessions are typically more advantageous to buyers.  Being conscious of the general economy and timing your exit is an important part of the process.  One must be cognizant of credit markets, to know whether a sale can occur and get financed (unless your buyer doesn’t need financing contingencies).  Hotel investments and markets are cyclical, so there is a good and bad time to exit and therefore the disposition price is largely reflective of this cycle.  

Common strategies for hotel investors are:

  • Long term holds, aka core holdings
  • Opportunistic value-add and disposition
  • Fix and Flip

On another topic, what to do after exiting?

See our blog on 1031 exchanges to learn how hotel investors are deferring their long term capital gain tax liabilities by electing to use Internal Revenue Code, Section 1031.

 

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How Does Due Diligence Work?

2 min read

Due Diligence Hotel Investments

2 Variables: (length of time & amount) Two important variables in a purchase and sales agreement include the amount of time that is being requested in the due diligence period and the amount of the due diligence deposit funds. While these are two major variables, there are several other variables worth considering. Developers should always consult and discuss other variables with a local attorney when negotiating purchase, sale, or due diligence instruments.

Due diligence time is a very critical time for a potential buyer or investor.  This is the period of time in which a buyer or investor is going to find out whether their plan is feasible and worth moving forward. The questions you need to ask and tasks that must be completed during this review process can include:

  • Whether your development is financially feasible: How much will your development cost?
  • What interest rate will you borrow money at?
  • What is the predicted return on your equity investment?
  • It’s also a time that you’ll want to inspect the land and the structural integrity of it. Various engineers will conduct soil borings and lab studies to determine geotechnical and site plan data and how that may affect or bring about hidden construction costs.
  • Will the city or local municipality allow it? Often times, developments can be restricted by regulations of the city or local municipality. It could be the case that only specific types of developments such as office space or hotel constructions can be built in a given area which must follow specific zoning rules. This is also known as entitlement process.

Due Diligence Time Period

Depending on the amount of time you need to complete all of these tasks, it can affect your deal. Shorter due-diligence periods are more attractive to sellers, therefore it is more likely to demand and receive a price reduction if your proposed due-diligence period is relatively short. The same goes the other way. If the amount of time being requested in the due-diligence period is long, it will probably require a higher purchase price to induce the seller to agree.

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Due Diligence Dollar Amount

The second variable in a due diligence deposit is the size, or the dollar amount, of the actual deposit itself. This variable allows the investor to do a variety of things. Sometimes you can propose to modify the terms and amount of your deposit. You can make the deposit refundable or non-refundable, essentially changing the amount of risk you are willing to take. Oftentimes, the risk you take with your due diligence deposit can have an impact on the amount and terms of the actual purchase price in the contract.

A quick example might help clarify how this works:
Imagine there is a piece of land that I would like to buy for $1.2m, but the land is listed for sale at $1.3 million. To induce a seller of real estate to sell the land to me at the lower $1.2 million price, I may offer a $100,000 non-refundable due diligence deposit to the seller. Many times, that seller will be induced by the chances that I don’t close on the deal and the potential of earning easy $100k. You can customize these terms, allowing your money to go non-refundable after a specific amount of time in the total due-diligence period, or right away. Again, some of this depends on the risk you are willing to take. Sometimes, offering a non-refundable deposit is a way to stick out among other buyers. If you are competing against a diverse group of buyers, offering a non-refundable deposit is a sure way to get the seller’s’ attention. Sometimes the land appears to be very risky and seems like there might be topographic or geotechnical issues with the land, and you may want to specify that your due-diligence deposit will remain fully refundable until you have had time to research potential problems with your civil engineer.

Where does your due-diligence deposit stay? It should technically be deposited into escrow with a mutual joint order escrow agreement. This ensure that your money is in safe/neutral hands and can not be accepted or deposited without a joint order from all parties. But this can also be customized. If you intend to offer a non-refundable deposit, the deposit can sometimes be sent directly to the seller or seller’s attorney. As always, make sure to hire a local attorney to advise you through any transaction.

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4 Great Benefits of Hotel Crowdfunding

4 min read

4 Great Benefits of Hotel Crowdfunding

EquityRoots.com uses crowdfunding as a finance tool to raise capital for premium branded franchised hotels. We harness the buying power of the crowd to create investment opportunities in institutional grade assets that were once only available to REITs, insurance companies, and established players in the hospitality industry. Our crowdfunding technology allows even the smallest of investors to invest alongside professional real estate developers, hotel owners, and other like-minded investors. It’s a system in which everyday folks can tap into serious sources of capital for investment purposes. This capital can be structured as equity, debt, mezzanine debt, and sometimes even convertible debt – security instruments that are designed to yield a return for investing. There are plenty of advantages in crowdfunding investments. Here are just a few!

1. Diversifying Risk.

Hotel investors can diversify risk by investing in fractional interests in different hotels across the country. Hotel investors can select hotels under different brands in various states. Our EquityRoots platform allows investors to select multiple assets, and buy shares or investment units in different projects and properties, diversifying your investment risk by brand, by the market, by different geographic regions, or simply by the different types of hotels, whether it is an extended stay, limited service or full-service hotel.

2. Owning Pieces of Institutional Grade, High-Quality Developments.

Typical hoteliers and hospitality groups commonly pursue 80-120 room properties in secondary or tertiary markets. This is where barriers to entry are often less and construction costs are generally lower. However, in higher density urban markets such as Chicago and New York, hoteliers face much higher barriers to entry and construction costs are significantly higher. Consequently, many hospitality groups aren’t able to penetrate into those markets. Primary urban markets have institutional grade assets that typically cost $20-50 million and although they can take many years to develop, it’s worth the hassle. Institutional grade assets tend to have the highest average daily rates, highest occupancies, and strongest profit opportunities for their owners and investors. But because of their size and other barriers to entry, these deals sometimes become out-of-reach not just for everyday people, but also for proven hoteliers. This is where crowdfunding kicks in to provide leverage and opportunity that hotel investors otherwise would not have access to. By pooling capital from crowd, EquityRoots’ crowdfunding platform allows everyday folks to compete for higher-grade, higher-quality deals. Crowdfunding is now gaining access to deal flow usually reserved for institutional players like REITs and insurance companies, giving even new hotel investors a chance to enjoy the ownership of some of the most profitable opportunities.

 

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3. No Middlemen and No Commissions.

The crowdfunding process is very simple and efficient. Under specific exceptions to the securities registration requirements, broker’s fees or commission fees for buying and selling the investment are not permissible. Crowdfunding aims to make every penny of your dollar count in the investment, instead of letting middlemen walk away with your money.

4. Local-Concrete Investments You Can See.

Investing in property and buildings that you can see and visit is yet another advantage. Hotel investments are different than paper stocks and bonds; paper certificates that we can never see and often trade on speculation. Real estate is an investment that you’ll always be able to see. It has real property interest and physical improvements on the land. A family can walk into a hotel, point to it, and feel a sense of ownership. It’s a more rewarding investment experience than collecting paper certificates in a file cabinet.

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How Expedia and Priceline Impact Hotel Owners

9 min read

How Expedia and Priceline Impact Hotel Owners

Special thanks to Christina Velasquez for contributions to this article.

When was the last time you used Expedia to book flights or a hotel room? Travelers often turn to Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Expedia to quickly find available accommodations, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is benefiting. Nowhere is this truer than in the hospitality industry.

This year alone, we’ve seen both AccorHotels (products include Ibis, Novotel, and Pullman) and Hyatt go head to head with Expedia.1 Hyatt, in particular, made headlines when it threatened to stop working with Expedia altogether, although just last month Hyatt admitted it would continue to work with the OTA for the foreseeable future.2 This isn’t anything new. In 2004, IHG actually left Expedia and did not have any listings on Expedia sites until it re-entered its partnership with Expedia 3 years later. Choice hotels in 2008-2009 had a dispute with Expedia as well, and shortly after the dispute, the hotel brand told all its franchisees that all Choice products would not be on Expedia.3 Despite hotel brands and hoteliers relying on OTAs for a large part of their annual room bookings, these disputes reflect a discontent among hotel owners that is neither new nor insignificant. So…what’s the big fuss about?

It’s a tricky game. In order to understand the Hotel-OTA conflict and analyze potential solutions, let’s first take a look at how OTAs work and they impact hotel owners.

Giants of the Industry

Every industry has its giants. The NBA has the Warriors and the Cavs. The tech world has Google and Facebook. In the hotel industry, we have the big three – Hilton, Marriott, and IHG – all established hotel brands that EquityRoots strives to work with in our own projects.  

But who owns the OTA world? There are two companies you’ve undoubtedly heard of:

  1. Expedia, Inc. has quite the roster, with an army of websites including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Travelocity, HomeAway and Trivago.4 In 2015, Expedia acquired Orbitz Worldwide, which also includes Orbitz, CheapTickets, and Ebookers, among several other brands. Add to that thousands of other affiliate sites, and you’ve got one major player controlling much of how OTA’s operate.
  2. The Priceline Group is the other worldwide giant with a hefty lineup of its own, including Priceline.com, Booking.com, Agoda.com, Kayak.com, OpenTable, and Rentalcars.com.

These powerhouses alone hold incredible influence in the hospitality industry in no small part due to their all-inclusive appeal to travelers. Travelers using Priceline or Expedia can book not only hotels, but also auto rentals and flights. Planning a vacation to Los Angeles? It’s pretty easy to log onto Expedia.com, and search for a flight and hotel for your trip. Online filters generally allow you to specify dates, times, and travel budgets to best fit your needs. Hotel owners can actually utilize this powerful tool in a way that benefits them more appropriately – but more on that later.

If travelers search for hotel bookings in L.A. right now, they can compare pricing and offerings from the Hilton Pasadena, the Best Western Plus Garden Inn and Suites, and La Quinta. Once a traveler has made their hotel selection, an OTA actually handles the payment of the hotel for you. From the traveler’s perspective, it’s not difficult to appreciate the convenience.  Especially for travelers not loyal to specific hotel brands, they can use OTA’s to pick the right lodging for their needs efficiently.

How does this hurt hotel owners?

Hotel owners pay hefty commissions when working with OTAs, and increasing dependency on Expedia and Priceline can compromise sustainability in hotel operations. For example – let’s say you own a hotel in L.A. For simplicity, your rooms are priced at $100 per night. Chuck from Chicago decides to fly into L.A. for a trip. Chuck walks into your hotel, and requests a room, paying that $100 rate. Chuck gets to stay at your hotel, and you get to keep $100 in revenue. Straightforward.

Let’s compare Chuck to another guest at your Hotel, Erica. Erica decides to book her hotel through Expedia. She books the hotel online with the same listed room price of $100. Expedia handles the payment and gets that $100. Then, Expedia takes a commission and only pays you $75 as the hotel owner.

Whoa. What happened? Since Expedia helped you, (the hotel owner) gain a customer, the OTA charges you a commission. After all, without Expedia, Erica may never have booked at your property. The hotel owner has to pay a fee of 25% of the room rate – $25. This rate is pretty typical of many OTAs.

A distinction worth highlighting is the fact that Erica does not pay that commission fee. You do as the hotel owner. That’s primarily how OTA’s make their revenue – by charging a fee for hotel rooms booked online. Among all its services offered, Expedia makes 70% of its revenue through hotel bookings.5 That’s not to say that OTA services are not valued. Oftentimes, getting customers through OTAs is a great tool for a hotel owner to have. The issue is that the commission for these bookings are high enough to make it difficult for hotel owners to continue operating.

This booking fee isn’t a one-sized-fits-all setting. Hotel brands like Marriott and Hilton independently negotiate their own commission rates with OTA’s, and those commissions can vary depending on whether or not the booking date is a weekday or a weekend. Typically these rates range from 15-28%, depending on the brand. Independent hotel owners unaffiliated with a brand can face commission rates as high as 30% of the room rate. If your rate is $100 a night, you only earn $70 if your customer decides to book through Expedia.

Hotel Owners Suffer from OTA Dependency

Back to the example with you being the hotel owner. Although it’s true that you still get to keep the larger part of this revenue from Erica’s booking, you’ve been facing increasing costs in the past few years. Labor costs are on the rise.6 You’ve got to pay utility bills, mortgage, internet systems and other new tech costs to keep up with competition in the industry. With Priceline and Expedia charging the high rates in commission, hotel owners have a decreasing budget to cover more front end costs. In contrast, OTAs don’t have to pay the same overhead, brick-and-mortar, and maintenance costs that hotel owners have.

Additionally, a growing concern is that OTAs are becoming the norm rather than an alternative for hotel bookings. Younger travelers especially are conducting many of their travel bookings through online platforms like Kayak and Expedia. In the past, hotel owners were looking at a smaller percentage of their rooms to be booked by OTAs. As OTAs have grown, many hotel owners are now seeing the vast majority of their rooms being booked through OTA’s – this makes it difficult for hotel owners to sustain their operations without raising the prices of their rooms.

It’s important to emphasize that most of the damage is felt by hotel owners, not hotel companies. With or without OTAs, hotel companies still retain much of their revenue through royalty fees (also paid by hotel owners) and are more insulated from the effects of online middlemen.

That doesn’t mean that these hotel companies are completely safe from the effects of OTAs. When OTAs create a large impact on thousands of individual franchise owners, increased discontent among those owners push waves of communication to hotel brands with a clear message: something has to change. That’s what we are seeing now with several hotel brands now questioning their current working relationship with OTAs.

 

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Flights, too?

For better or for worse, OTAs are not going to go away in the future. If anything, they will continue to grow. Yet, hotels aren’t the only ones who have scuffled with OTAs. Airline companies such as Delta, American and US Airways have all at one point removed their flights from Expedia to protest high fees. To this day, Southwest Airlines still keeps listings off of OTAs because of those fees.7 Other airlines charge a fee if travelers book through OTAs: most recently, British Airways announced it would start charging a fee for many third party bookings on OTAs.8

Airline brands have even rallied together to leverage their fight against OTAs. Around 2006-2007, major OTAs got sued by several airlines for charging booking fees. The result fell more in favor of airlines. When travelers book airlines through one of the OTA websites, the airline still gets charged with some margin, but there are no longer any booking fees. Similarly, an Illinois Court gave American Airlines a win in their battle against OTA Orbitz (again, now owned by Expedia).9

Hotel brands could attempt to utilize some of the strategies utilized by the airline companies. Hotel owners can upcharge fees if guests book through Expedia or Priceline. Hotel owners can push for hotel companies to band together in a similar fashion as major airlines. It’ll take a high degree of coordination among hotel companies and hotel owners alike, but a concerted effort across the hotel industry could really benefit hotel companies and hotel owners in the long run.

Of course, it won’t be easy. Airlines are in a better position to challenge OTAs – because airlines own all the actual aircraft that travelers fly on; they have a unique position in that airlines own all of their assets. In contrast, the hotel companies do not own the hotels themselves – individual hotel owners do. The hotel brands give owners brand support in return for royalty fees, but they do not own the brick and mortar outright. This key difference gives airlines a greater reason to push back against OTAs, whereas hotel owners must coordinate with hotel companies on a large scale.

Hotel Owners can Utilize OTAs as an Asset

There’s an absolute need for hotel owners to put pressure on hotel brands, and hotel brands uniting against high commission OTA fees is incredibly important for sustainability. In the meantime, how do hotel owners utilize OTAs as more of an asset? There’s a definite stigma among hotel owners against OTAs, but there are ways to look at Expedia and Priceline as potential tools in the hospitality business. Hotel owners do have an opportunity to utilize OTAs like Expedia more appropriately in their favor. 

  • Utilize OTAs like Expedia as your research tool. Hotel owners can use OTA to shop other hotels in the area. OTAs are a powerful localized resource to see what your competition is doing in any given area.
  • Free advertising. The inherent benefit of OTAs is that you can advertise your hotel for almost zero upfront cost. Hotel owners don’t get charged if customers simply see their hotels on OTAs. Hotel owners pay the hefty commission if travelers book through the OTA.
  • Book Direct… Hotel owners should push to have guests book directly with them. Guests should use Expedia to search for the best value in hotels, but if they are booking through OTAs, hotel owners pay for royalties and OTA fees. If guests book directly with the hotel owner and brand, hotel owners benefit because they dodge paying the OTA commissions.
  • …and Invest in Loyalty. Of course, hotel owners need to recognize that it’s so easy for guests to use Expedia and Priceline. Utilize loyalty-building resources. Booking direct provides the opportunity to give guests loyalty points, and loyalty strengthens relationships between guests and hotel brands. Guests benefit from additional loyalty points and increasingly improved service from a long-term relationship with a brand, and hotel owners enjoy that loyalty in the form of increased bookings from repeat business (without paying commissions). If those points cost hotel owners 10% through direct booking by giving out those points, it is still cheaper than guests booking through Expedia and collecting a commission of 15-30%.

Marriott, IHG, and Hilton are some of the brands that have strong loyalty programs where guests earn free points for staying at affiliated properties, but if hotel owners are going to overcome high commission fees, action needs to be taken earlier rather than later. Appeal to hotel companies for higher degrees of support. This is something we are seeing more often now, and many hotel brands are actually asking their franchisees to leverage them further.10 Larger organizations like AAHOA can and already have taken steps to protect hotel owners.11 We’re confident in the ability of hotels to unite and overcome arbitrarily high commissions, and with strong efforts, hotels will be an even better real estate investment than they already are.

Sources

1. “AccorHotels Finds Competing with Expedia is Harder than Expected.” Skift.  Jul 31, 2017.
2. “Hyatt Isn’t Abandoning Expedia Just Yet as the Two Sides Reach Agreement in Principle.” Skift. Jul 31, 2017.
3. Schaal, Dennis. A Timeline of Online Travel Agencies Battles with Hotels and Airlines. Skift. Jun 21, 2017.
4. “About Us.” Expedia.
5. Page, Vanessa. “How Expedia Makes Money.” Investopedia. Aug 5, 2015.
6.Mandelbaum, Robert. “An examination of hotel labor costs.” Hotel Management. Nov 21, 2016.
7.Hobica, George. Battle Heats up Between Airlines and Online Travel Agencies. Airfarewatchdog. Oct 25, 2016.
8.chlappig, Ben. “British Airways will Start Charging a Fee for Many Third Party Bookings.” May 26, 2017. One Mile At A Time.
9.“Court Orders American Airlines Flights Back on Orbitz.” Consumer Reports News. Jun 2, 2011.
10.Mest, Elliott. “Hotel brands urge franchisees to leverage them further.” Hotel Management. Aug 21, 2017.
11.HNN Newswire. “AAHOA takes a strong stance on OTA issues.” Hotel News Now. Nov 9, 2009.

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Modular Construction: Hotel Construction & Design

3 min read

Modular Construction: Hotel Construction & Design

Modular construction is revolutionizing building construction, especially in the hotel industry. Instead of having to build the entire hotel from the ground up, modular construction pushes most of the construction to happen off site. This type of construction is incredibly appealing, especially to first-time hotel investors looking for a smart real estate investment.

Historically, the construction for a hotel development occurs on-site. All your raw materials are delivered to the site, where they are assembled by various tradesman and sub-contractors. The foundation is poured and the framework is built. Each floor is set up, and individual rooms are then constructed and finished as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are established.

So what does modular construction offer? Modular construction refers to the modules that are constructed off site and then delivered to the construction site to be connected together. In the case of hotels, this often means that each room is built as a module off site. The rooms are shipped to your construction site and then the rooms are hoisted and stacked and sealed together, very much like legos. Instead of building your entire building from scratch on-site, you are able to construct your hotel into smaller sections that are later placed together. There are numerous benefits to modular construction, including:

Efficiency

Hotels benefit disproportionately from modular construction because most of the guest rooms are essentially the same and easy to replicate. By having most of the construction take place off-site, hotel developers often save time and money in the actual on-site construction, since the rooms are already built. Modular construction minimizes weather delays on site, and simultaneously reduces construction hazards. In addition, because of reduced construction time, there are potential savings associated with construction financing being a shorter term. There are also actual material savings using prefabricated modular construction. The repetitious nature of modular assembly allows carpenters and tradesman to bring material wastage down to a bare minimum. Additionally, construction traffic delays are shorter, and your development timeline is shorter, allowing you to make it to opening day and realize a return sooner. There is probably a good chance that a prefabricated construction company is able to buy lumber, steel, plumbing, and electrical equipment at better prices than most local builders, simply because of their volume and purchasing power.

Quality Management

Mass production allows you to speed up not only construction but also allows developers to have better quality. Modular construction reduces a lot of the variable guesswork in on-site construction from room to room, ensuring that each room’s construction will be consistent and predictable. Even the tiny details like screws and nails go into the exact same place, for each room module. It might also be important to note that indoor factory building doesn’t expose the materials or tradesman to natural elements, especially if you’re thinking about building in a cold or rainy climate. Naturally, the materials stay dry and worker productivity remains high when you’re inside controlled environments.

 

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Conclusion

We predict that modular construction will only get more popular, and will allow hotel developers to speed up their rate of development without sacrificing quality. Moving ahead, modular construction companies are now even offering to build rooms with your FF&E (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) already built in, so hotel developers have even less to worry about when preparing to open doors and getting to revenue.

Sources:
“Why Build Modular?” Modular Building Institute.

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Should I Invest in a New Hotel or an Existing Hotel?

5 min read

Should I Invest in a New Hotel or an Existing Hotel?

Do I invest in a brand new hotel, or in an existing hotel? Real estate investors often find this decision difficult when first expanding their investment portfolio to include hotel assets. When deciding between hotel investment opportunities, knowing the distinctions between new and old hotel assets can serve you well. Combine that knowledge with information about the cost basis, time, quality, and potential disposition value of each deal, and you have the foundational tools you need to make smart investment decisions.

For starters – there are two types of investments available for hotel investors. Hotel investors can choose to invest in a new construction project. This is where a hotel developer takes the time to design and build a brand new hotel. On the flip side, hotel investors can choose to invest in an existing hotel, usually in the form of a renovation project. Renovations could include structural upgrades to a building, but may also involve a change of a hotel’s brand name. For example, a developer might want to take a pre-existing Country Inn & Suites and convert it to a Staybridge Suites.

The benefits of new construction hotels might seem apparent to many first time investors. After all, the hotel asset that you invest in will be brand new, often coming with the newest amenities. However, existing hotel renovation projects also have their fair share of benefits.


New Construction Hotel Investments

New Construction Hotel Investments

Investing in a new development project can be a risky but rewarding investment. It is truly a unique experience, being able to invest in a project that you can see from its designing stages, to the groundbreaking, and to the final construction phases.

Advantages to New Construction Investments

New construction developments have numerous benefits, including:

  1. Modern Design: Everything is new! The guest experience and floorplans of today’s hotel prototypes are more efficient and modern than older hotels. Guests are satisfied and leave great travel reviews, encouraging additional business.
  2. Market Leaders: New construction hotels typically beat out the older competition in the area. These new assets often become market leaders in rate and occupancy in large part because business travelers don’t mind spending more money to stay in newer hotels.
  3. Lean Operating Margins: Operating margins in new hotels tend to be leaner than their older counterparts because the newer hotel is less susceptible to extensive maintenance and repairs.
  4. Higher Disposition: When selling a newer hotel after owning it for a few years, it is common to see offers that are higher than those that would be made for old hotels. REITS and institutional buyers demand the best performing assets and often pay the highest value to new or newer hotels.

Disadvantages to New Construction Investments

However, savvy real estate investors know that depending on the individual deal, new does not always mean better. New construction hotels have their own share of risks:

  1. Longer Process: The development process often takes 6-18 months of hard work with engineers, attorneys, and architects. Only after the development undergoes several rounds of approval does the project move forward to construction, which often takes another 16-24 months of time.
  2. Income Delay: New hotel assets are not taking in any income during that development and construction process.
  3. Building Codes & Zoning Laws: Government review can have a huge hand in restricting the hotel design. Different local governments vary greatly in what is allowed or not allowed in construction. With a brand new hotel, it can add on additional work and approval rounds with city officials, all which can lengthen the amount of time until opening day for that hotel.
  4. Difficult Construction Financing: Construction financing is generally more scarce expensive than existing hotel acquisition loans. There are plenty of lenders for existing hotels, but not as many for new-construction loans.

Existing Hotel Investments

Existing Hotel Investments

When real estate investors decide to invest in the renovation of an existing hotel, they must compare the cost basis of acquiring the hotel to the cost benefit of changing flags or renovating the property into a different brand. In other words, how does the price of investing in the hotel compare with the potential return of the renovated property? This comparison is especially important if the existing hotel is located in an extremely busy market, center-city location, or in a market where vacant land is scarce.

Advantages to Existing Investments

Existing hotel investments offer many benefits that are distinct from new hotel assets, including:

  1. Clear Performance History: Investing in or purchasing an existing hotel with an operating history provides an accurate look at how the hotel is performing right now. This can give you a clear picture of what the return on your investment currently looks like before renovation.
  2. Reduced Development Costs: Due to rising costs of construction and scarcity of land in strong markets, the building a new hotel is easier said than done. With an existing hotel asset, you do not have to shell out for materials to build an entirely new building.
  3. Faster Income: Assuming that the hotel asset is cash flow positive, investors can recognize income 12-24 months sooner compared to new construction hotel investments. Again, hotel investors benefit from a shorter waiting period before the hotel operates.
  4. Shorter Development Period: Pre-existing hotel assets have already undergone the entitlement, design, and development process from its initial construction, so developers and investors can save valuable time.
  5. Assuming Financing: The acquisition cost for an existing hotel can be significantly below new construction replacement cost. Additionally, existing hotels often have financing that you can assume from the previous owner. It’s convenient not having to go searching or negotiating for a loan when you can readily assume a quality loan.

Disadvantages to Existing Investments

With older hotel buildings (and for real estate assets in general), maintenance and other disadvantages can lower the value of your investment. Investors must be careful to make sure that the price of acquiring a pre-existing hotel does not outweigh the cost of simply constructing a new hotel. Other downsides to existing hotel assets include:

  1. Outdated Infrastructure: Many older hotel buildings lack adequate electrical, plumbing, or mechanical systems to keep up with the demand of today’s travelers. Investors can often spend just as much money replacing these systems as they would installing brand new ones.
  2. Limited Branding Options: Older hotels may be limited on branding options, as some brands (particularly high performing ones) may have additional restrictions on which buildings they are willing to allow their branding on.
  3. Lower Disposition Value: Renovated or repositioned hotels will most likely sell for a substantially lower premium than newly constructed assets.
  4. Higher Maintenance Costs: Older, existing hotel assets will cost more to maintain than new construction hotels.

 

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Conclusion

Both new and existing hotel assets come with their own set of pros and cons, and investors should take into account their financial goals when considering investment decisions. If investors seek to supplement their short-term cash flow, then the types of investments that work best for them will be different than if those investors were seeking to maximize their long-term gain. Beyond looking at the type of hotel investment, looking at other variables including “equity multiples” can provide valuable information.

Equityroots recently found value in partnering with Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), licensing two of their most iconic brands, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in a dynamic dual-brand design. The development was able to identify Class-A vacant site in a market with barriers to entry, it was an easy decision to pursue new development given the circumstances.  New development projects and investments often require a higher degree of patience compared to existing hotel acquisitions, but the added layer of patience is often rewarded during the exit strategy.

Equityroots.com is website owned and operated by Equityroots, Inc., a Delaware Corporation and real-estate developer specializing in select service and full service hotel development.  For more information on hotel investments, visit us at www.equityroots.com or sign up for our monthly newsletter at the bottom of our homepage.

Sources

“Hotel Investment: How to Finance the New Supply.” Hotel Online. Apr 11, 2014.

Jones, Michael. “What Does it Take to Start a Hotel?”  Forbes. Feb 23, 2013.

LaSalle, Jones. “5 Forces Driving Hotel Investment.” Building Design and Construction. Feb 5, 2013.

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Hotel Investments Vs. Multi-Family & Fix-and-Flips

3 min read

Are Hotels a Better Investment Than Multi-Family or Fix-and-Flip?

There’s no shortage of opportunities to invest in real estate—so why zero in on hotels, in particular? It’s a question we get asked regularly here at EquityRoots. Truthfully, of all the myriad ways to add real estate to your investment portfolio, hotels are among the least commonly discussed. Why is it, then, that we would offer our investors the opportunity to enter so specific a niche?

Before we answer that, we’ll offer the disclaimer that yes, there are many people out there who make money off of multi-family properties, fix-and-flips, and other real estate opportunities. By no means are we suggesting that these ventures cannot be fruitful. All we are saying is that, if you put all the pros and cons on the ledger and really think it over, you just might find yourself agreeing with us that hotel investments are uniquely promising and distinctly advantageous.

Real Estate Investment 101

To understand what makes hotel investment so loaded with potential, you’ve first got to understand some of the basics of real estate investment. Let’s break it down to the simplest possible level—the most basic concept of real estate investment. When you buy a home, an apartment building, or a hotel—property of any kind, really—you have to understand that it’s not going to make any money just sitting there empty. To generate a profit, any real estate investment is going to have to have tenants. You’ve got to have warm, rent-paying bodies in the building for it to be a moneymaker.

So now, consider the rent-generating potential of a hotel versus other forms of investment. With a hotel, you’re generating rent money night by night. With most anything else, you’re talking about a month-to-month or even year-to-year lease.

It boils down to simple mathematics, then: With a multi-family unit, you may generate $1,200 per month. With a hotel, it may be $69 per room per night. Now, in some cases, the hotel may not come out on top—and there are other factors to consider, such as hotel maintenance expenses. But if the hotel’s in a good market, it’s got good management, and it’s associated with a good brand, we’re willing to suggest that much of the time, hotel investment is going to be uniquely lucrative.

EquityRoots - Hotel Real Estate Investments Platform

The Logistics of Running a Hotel

We mentioned that there are some hotel maintenance expenses to take into consideration, and indeed there are. For instance, you’ll have to have someone come in and clean the rooms and provide other upkeep services, which naturally eats into the hotel’s overall profit margin.

But even operationally, hotels offer some unique perks over other real estate projects. For example, with a hotel, there’s no concern over delinquencies or renters who simply won’t pay their fair share. You also don’t have to face the worry of your property being vacant for a long stretch of time; again, assuming the hotel has a good market, a good leadership team, and a recognizable brand, you can feel confident that there are going to be tourists and travelers paying for rooms.

Investing with EquityRoots

But all of this underscores the big reason why hotel investment is, comparatively, a fairly seamless and accessible investment: When you invest through a platform like EquityRoots, you’re not actually signing up to run the hotel. You’re investing in an experienced hotel management team with a peerless track record and a trustworthy flag on its pole. In fact, EquityRoots has sufficient clout in the hotel industry that we can gain access to The Big 3—Marriott, Hilton, and IHG.

Those brands aren’t available to just anyone—not even investors with huge wads of money or a few years of actual hotel experience. They only trust their coveted name recognition to truly seasoned, expert hoteliers—and EquityRoots is proud to be on that list.

The bottom line: An investment with EquityRoots is smart. We know the hotel business. We choose promising markets and ensure that our hotels are well-run and that they offer brand recognition. All the pieces are in place for a robust, fruitful real estate investment.

Learn more about it by contacting EquityRoots today!

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