Hotel Moment logo with headshot of Johnathan Capps
Hotel Moment logo with headshot of Johnathan Capps
The Hotel Moment podcast — episode 43

Budget season from a hotelier’s perspective

Episode #43 is all about budget season!

This week on the Hotel Moment podcast, Revinate’s CRO, Karen Stephens, and Johnathan Capps, CRO at Charlestowne Hotels, are providing insights into how your budget relates to your compset. They also share tips on evaluating the market to make data-driven decisions.

Tune in to find out why tech adoption is key for your budget.

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Headshot of Karen Stephens

Meet your host

As Chief Marketing Officer at Revinate, Karen Stephens is focused on driving long-term growth by building Revinate’s brand equity, product marketing, and customer acquisition strategies. Her deep connections with hospitality industry leaders play a key role in crafting strategic partnerships. Karen is also the host of The Hotel Moment Podcast, where she interviews top players in the hospitality industry. Karen has been with Revinate for over 11 years, leading Revinate’s global GTM teams. Her most recent transition was from Chief Revenue Officer, where she led the team in their highest booking quarter to date in Q4 2023. Karen has more than 25 years of expertise in global hospitality technology and online distribution — including managing global accounts in travel and hospitality organizations such as Travelocity and

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Karen Stephens: Welcome everyone to the Hotel Moment podcast. I am your host, Karen Stephens, the Chief Revenue Officer of Revinate. On this podcast. We speak with people from the hospitality industry about their perspectives, insights, and experiences. Having been in the industry myself for over 20 years, I’m always excited to speak with people in the industry and get their point of view.

So let’s get right to it. So we are today in the middle of budget season, and we’ve had a few guests on this podcast as of late from the vendor side of the house. I am very excited to be joined today, by Johnathan Capps, who is the Chief Revenue Officer of Charlestowne Hotels. So we are getting some, uh, perspectives from the hotelier side of the house today.

Karen Stephens: So welcome Jonathan to the podcast.

Johnathan Capps: Thank you Karen, excited to be on today. Budgets, uh, you know, scaring me a little bit, but, uh, yeah, we’re gonna, we’ll be prepared to talk about it.

Karen Stephens: I’m really excited that you made some time, because I know, especially when you’re talking about from a hotel perspective, it’s all about spreadsheets and revenue numbers. And so we’re really excited to, to dig in. Just for our listeners out there, I know most people are familiar with Charlestowne, uh, Hotels, but, could you give us like, kind of a high level view of what the brand stands for and, and where you focus?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah, we’re a third party, mainly independent management company focusing on the boutique lifestyle space. A lot of our properties you’ll see are less than 200 keys and, and secondary, and tertiary markets. We cross over to the soft brand world. Some obviously we do some branded hotels, but, you know, our expertise comes by the way of those independent or that lifestyle division, as well as a heavy presence actually, and the collegiate markets and the seasonal markets as well.

Karen Stephens: Very cool. And I should say that you’re also a customer, so I wanna thank you for your partnership. It’s very awesome to have our customer on the call.

Johnathan Capps: I appreciate it.

Karen Stephens: All right. So we are gonna dig into budget, but before we get into all of that, I first wanna hit on five questions that I ask all of my guests when they first come on, just so we can get to know you a little bit more.

So you’re gonna know the answers to all of these. Um, but we’ll start with the first one. So when did you first start working in the industry? And do you remember your first day on the job?

Johnathan Capps: I remember my first month, a little bit of, you know, funny trial by fire in the sense that, I was 14 or 15 in high school, first job, in a hotel. and actually funny enough, a hotel that was opening. So it wasn’t an opening yet. I grew up in Myrtle beach, South Carolina, you know, some tourism destination and, uh, knew that this hotel needed someone.

I was gonna do breakfast, I was gonna work by the pool, I was gonna do some multiple things, but when I, you know, started, they were like, “oh, we haven’t opened yet. So you’re gonna be just helping the opening team”. So we’re talking about, you know, 14, 15 stories. I didn’t realize, like, you know, you couldn’t use the elevator when we were working.

What I remember is like, best workout, best shape of my life. I was, you know, up and down stairwells all day, putting soaps in rooms, putting towels, delivering sheets, carrying mattresses. So, you know, at that age I love the, uh, manual labor. I love the exercise, so it was good. And then, you know, you talk about a hotel going into opening, which a lot of people are familiar with it. Everything you did in those first weeks and months of, of, you know, I was there at 4:30, you know, figuring out breakfast and, then jumping on the desk and then, you know, when a guest needed something that we just weren’t used to having, it was all those things in my first job, in my first hotel experience.

So I recall that a lot, cuz now in a corporate position, I try to put myself in those shoes. COVID was a good example of that of like, man even a hotel opening in normal times was like, so mind blowing to me at a young age that, you know, knowing what our, our teams go through now, it was super formative for my early years in, in this industry.

Karen Stephens: Yeah, that’s so cool. Actually really starting from the ground up, so to speak, you know, and at such a young age is really cool having that operational knowledge. And I know a lot of people, in this industry start in one place and end up, like you said, now you’re in corporate and you’re kind of looking at a high level view as CRO, but that is, that is awesome experience. That’s great. Okay. Second question. What is the most uplifting moment so far in your career?

Johnathan Capps: Probably where I’m at now. Um, and having, come through the industry a little bit and work with some people, I think it’s, you know, there’s a, there’s a few people I’ve I feel like worked with me, worked alongside of me that have come into their careers, come into their, even their personal lives. I’ve gotten connected to a few people, pretty close, you know, where we, they, you know, came up through an intern and, you know, a good example is, is an employee that was at a front desk that showed interest in, in revenue management years ago, worked his way through the desk came to the corporate office, went to get his MBA, did an internship with us, came home with us as a revenue manager, and now he is, you know, kind of taken that, was successful with us as a revenue person. And then the entrepreneurial spirit led him to start his own company. And he’s really successful with that. So a couple examples are like that of people close to me, who I stay in touch with, of just seeing, you know, go on it, it, it’s definitely uplifting to me every time I’ll see a LinkedIn post by that person or how well they’re doing. I really like that.

Karen Stephens: Uh, being able to mentor and, and grow people’s career really from the very start. So, yeah, that’s another, again, going back to just the industry itself, I think we really love homegrown. Homegrown expertise coming up and, uh, that’s great. That’s great that you can mentor in that way. All right. Number three.

What is the most striking experience so far in terms of food, or stay, or a holiday that you’ve personally gone on? Either business travel or with your family, what’s kind of your top, top trip or experience?

Johnathan Capps: You know, for me, and I, probably your last one, the uplifting moment personally, I’ll, I’ll cross over with that and say, that is great for me, right? I, I have two kids and being able to travel with them in this industry and, and them have access to some of our great properties, and see things that I know I didn’t see at that age and just experience it. So, you know, a summer ago we went to Chicago and I think our thing is, is putting itineraries together for us. So we had a, call it week in Chicago, where we bounce around a few of our properties and we have a great property out in Lake Forest. It’s a corporate property. It’s unassuming, but it’s built like an old english inn and the service is just top notch.

So my, my daughter got to experience a tea service, my son and I biked to the lake and then took a kayak out. So, I guess to cross over, two of those same things happened in Denver, over Thanksgiving last year. You know, we got to hike the Red Rocks park and my kids got to see two hotels and one of them, it was really cool for bunks. So I think for me, you know, the striking is, is, is striking every time we get to do that kind of together, and I see their reaction to, you know, something really cool or an experience where I’m like, man, this, this industry has provided that, and you know, when you find something unassuming, it’s almost like not to give him a nod cause he is very successful, but like a Guy Fieri, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, when you, when you hit on that kind of, and you’re not picking, you know, the top five TripAdvisor attractions in every town that you’re, you know, a hike, on a beautiful morning is, is what does it, those, those strike me a lot.

Karen Stephens: Yeah. Hey, let’s go ahead and call out those hotels just for anybody listening, who might know where those gems are.

Johnathan Capps: Absolutely. the Lake Forest is, is the Deer Path Inn, and we have some other stuff in Chicago. The Majestic Hotel is, is right down from Wrigley. So again, immediately my connotation with the Majestic Hotel is my son and I going to Wrigley field and me taking him to his first baseball game, right? So the hotel’s unassuming, you know, that one, a little bit of opposite of the Deer Path, it’s not a lot of frills, but it, it serves a purpose in that market and that neighborhood. And then Denver, we have two, we have two, what we call Origin Properties. one is in Red Rocks, right by the amphitheater in Golden, and the other one is Westminster and, and both very similar, offering similar room types where they have those cool bunk rooms and perfect for my family and I.

Karen Stephens: That’s great. Red Rocks is my favorite concert venue in the country. So I’m from Colorado originally, actually. So uh, yeah, but that is my favorite. It is, I mean, what an amazing place to see a show. I mean, it’s so beautiful, a the sound is great. We can’t beat it.

Johnathan Capps: I, I’m dying to do this. It’s funny. Like I’m gonna sit here and say, I haven’t done that. I’ve been to the park like six times as I’ve done work trips out there, but hiking it, just sitting out there during the day when the parks open as a revenue person, gosh, I’m, you know, I’m not hoping for you to not have podcast listeners, but every time I walk into there, I’m shocked that it’s free to like go through that park during the day. And you know, you go to national parks, you go to state parks, and there’s like a, and I’m like as a revenue person, I’m counting the heads and like they could be doing something really well here, but it’s great that it’s free for now, but I’ve never done it. So it’s on my list.

Karen Stephens: Yeah, definitely got, that’s gotta be on your list. That’s a fantastic place. Cool. All right. Now this is a really fun one. Have you met any celebrities while you were in the trenches?

Johnathan Capps: Karen you know, the revenue, people are usually behind the scenes. It’s funny. My wife’s been in the business a little bit, so, unassumingly we, when we lived in Fort Lauderdale, we were at an opening party and, um, we got on the elevator with some celebrities and I didn’t realize it. I’m trying to remember it was, uh, Pin Badgley when he was, I could mess this up, so I gotta be careful. I think it was Blake Lively. I think those two were together at one point way back in the day. and then my wife told me afterwards. So, you know, I’m a, I’m a sports junkie, my daughter and I got to meet Jerome Betis when we were in Pittsburgh one time, so that was really cool for, on a, you know, call it work size personal trip. I’ll say my big miss, and you know, I’d maybe ask this back to you, cause I’ve asked my colleagues this, I was just traveling for work, and Michael Jordan’s racing team was holding a meeting at the same hotel I was at, and that would be my ultimate probably, right?

But then I asked myself, as my colleagues asked me, like, what would you do? And I don’t have an answer for that yet. I don’t know if I had the, bucket list of coming across a celebrity or sports figure that I always wanna meet, how I would act or interact. I don’t know if it’s a photo, if I would just like, say what’s up, or if I would just crumble into a ball. I’m not sure.

Karen Stephens: Right, right. Well, I’ll tell you, mine was, I, I saw Joe Montana in the lobby of, of a hotel in New Orleans when the 49ers were in the Super Bowl. So they lost to the Ravens, unfortunately, but I was in the lobby and I saw Joe Montana and my reaction was just to go, “oh boy, there’s Joe Montana”, and like take a really horrible picture from the side. Um, so I didn’t, you know, I didn’t have the guts to, like, there were a lot of people surrounding him, but, I didn’t have the guts to go up there, but it was fun. And I thought you’d appreciate that cause you liked sports. So there you go.

Johnathan Capps: That’s great. No, that would be a good one. That would be a really good one.

Karen Stephens: Okay, last question for the warmup, who are the women at work you’ve been most inspired by?

Johnathan Capps: Um, we might need a minute on this one cause I have a few, you know, it starts in the home front. So obviously my wife, and what she does every day. I gotta give a credit to that, but she’s been in the business too. She actually switched from a, a catering position in weddings to HR, a great transition there was meant for her, but also my mother, you know, that job I mentioned when I started, my mother’s been in the business my whole life, in hotels and in hotel management, so I kind of took from her and saw hospitality through her, you know? And what I’ll remember about that is like, the times I’d go to like work with her or I’d stop by, she always reminds me, and she was always that person that, and this is where we say that some technology could push us out of this frame, but she was always like to grab the coffee pot in the morning to go refill a guest coffee and talk to a guest, right? Like, and I still, she’s still in the business to this day. I still see that when I see her, you know, when I go back to her hotel and bring my kids there. And like her interaction with guests is just none other and obviously the root of the, the business that we’re in. So I think I learned a lot of that people side, the business, and I even sell to my team.

I mean, people see revenue, people as, you know, spreadsheet, people, et cetera. But, there’s an internal relationship building to this job that’s, that’s none other, and I think, you know, 50% of the job for some of my team between communication to general managers and sales team. So, I think she imparted a lot on that, of that on me, but also just her hard work and, and grind towards what is a tough business.

And then I just can’t leave without saying, I, you know, there’s this, there’s a group of strong females on my own team. five of my nine revenue team members. I mean, they’re great. I love working with them every day. And we just got back from Denver in July for a company, general manager summit, and I got spent a lot of time. Our 2021 GMO of the year was a female who runs our property up in Hamilton, New York, the Colgate Inn. She’s done a amazing job there of, of transitioning an older inn to, to really being the spotlight of that town. So I I’d say, you know, the answer is I’m, I’m surrounded by amazing females from my personal life growing up to, to even now.

I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s really great.

Karen Stephens: That’s great. So let’s give that GM a shout out GM of the year. So what’s her name and what’s her property?

Johnathan Capps: Kendra Young. Yeah, Kendra young. She’s at the Colgate in Hamilton, New York, and actually transitioning to where we’re gonna have two properties in that same area, run by her. Cause there’ll be another one in the town as well.

Karen Stephens: Very cool. Well, congratulations. That is awesome. Okay, great. So thank you for that. So let’s move on. So I know, you know, we, we share a similar title, so chief revenue officer, I know what that means for me because I work for a SAS company, so I know how, you know, I run sales, CS, and marketing, um, primarily I’m a salesperson, but can you tell me what that means for you, a chief revenue officer of a hotel?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah, it it’s a good point. You know, I’ve even thought about defining that a little bit more as a smaller company for us. It does cross some lines and, and draw some lines. So, you know, most importantly overseeing our, our top line revenue production, right? How our, how the top line room revenue for our properties operates.

We have some food and beverage leaders. So they’re, you know, they take heavily ownership of that. And I oversee a revenue team of nine, but my, my dotted lines and my crosses are also to, our director of technology, which as you know, maybe in the marketing, I think what we’ve learned from revenue in the marketing side is so much of that tech crosses the revenue space.

So I’ve actually taken technology side underneath me while we have a chief marketing officer, and in sales as well. There’s a big piece of sales that slides up underneath revenue. I think the thing for us is a little bit of a balance because we are not a lot of huge resorts. We’re more independent properties and you know, our sales presence is a little bit smaller in most places, but we do have sales teams throughout a few of our properties and, kind of some support and guidance comes up through our revenue.

Karen Stephens: Oh, great. Well, thank you for that. So I’m sure that, as we kind of alluded to it to the top of the call, we are in the middle of budget season now. So my first question is, you know, how is 2022 different from previous years? And I don’t just mean the COVID, you know, obviously COVID was a factor, but what are you seeing this year compared to like 2019?

Is there anything that’s really been a shift change for you?

Johnathan Capps: Yes and no, obviously we’re in some bigger markets. Right? We have a few, I mentioned Chicago earlier, I mentioned Denver earlier, but a lot of our other stuff has been secondary and tertiary. So I like to think, and I, you know, I hate to get or talks or, you know, respond to articles where it sounds braggadocious in a way. You know, we had some stuff in late 2020 start coming back. When you had some of those seasonal markets, you know, call it Florida, call it beach markets, call it the hidden gyms where people were getting outta cities, luckily for us, we had some stuff in those markets, so we saw this triple trickle effect of a rebound in late 2020, early 2020, 21 when like spring break was coming, right? So we’ve had a, a good presence of, you know, seeing some little markets come back. Now what I’d say about 2022 is like, we, you’ve seen signs from every market, now you’ve seen some of the major markets rebound, we’ve finally seen a, a stabilized, call it collegiate schedule. All collegiate games are back.

The, the colleges are, are mostly back to normal. It’s even funny to say some, some are not in the sense of, you know, dormitory, setups, et cetera, but our, our balance is, is kind of been, you know, I guess positively for us is can we hold of what we’ve seen some properties that have hit peaks, right? We, we have had some properties, hit all time highs in 21 and or 22. So, you know, my, my question and another role, I guess I didn’t define, especially when it comes to development, right? We’ll have a project right now that needs underwriting the same as we need, call it underwriting or budgeting for next year. And what does that look like for a market that saw a 15% rebound and then a five this year?

And then now, you know, if they’re stabilized and their competition hasn’t for all, data speaking, what, where does that land us? So a lot of the questions has been, you know, national numbers aside, right? And I can go on a, a little bit of a tangent on that, but you know, for us, when you look at national projections, it’s never been, you know, how, how, and I don’t say people define themselves, I think it, tt’s always in the back burner to an owner and the major markets could always kind of fall in that, right? When, when the markets were stable and we had a good 3-5 years there, you could look at the RevPAR guidance and be like, alright it’s 3.5%. It’s mostly in ADR, we’re probably gonna see something similar, right? Well, we couldn’t rely on that in some of our secondary markets ever, but now I think everyone’s in that boat, right? Everyone’s gotta take a submarket look, or even a drill down to their compset look and be like, I gotta define what these 4-5 hotels are gonna do, because it’s gonna tell me where I’m positioned and what I’m gonna do.

Karen Stephens: Right, so that, that kind of tails on to my next question. So when you look at market forecast, you kind of mentioned regional versus national forecast. So you hit on it there a little bit, but what is your recommendation for hoteliers when they start to look at the regional level? Like how do you break that down and give instruction to your team to be able to forecast accurately on that?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah, you know, you always start, or you get into a conference and you’re like, eh, like they always do the, you know, “don’t share your data”. You know, “let’s not conspire”, you know, asterisk or, you know, caveat, and I, I started thinking the other night, I’m like, man, I wonder if it was an easier data world when there used to be like call arounds and things like that.

I don’t know if you remember that from those days, but that it’s funny in reverse. That’s the level we’re trying to get to. And for those that don’t know, long before, you know, digital tracking, there were spreadsheets at hotels where, they’d call around to hotels in the market and get occupancy and ADR levels.

A lot of it was just to share when it was compressed, that you could, give your fellow person in the industry a piece of business. But, you know, as the revenue mind started to pop up for some of these hotels, they realized they, had performance data for, for your, you know, neighboring hotels and that’s where we’re trying to get, right? I’m trying to get my team to the point. they watch a compset throughout the whole year, and this is where I try to get with an owner in development. So it’s the same exercise, right? Let’s just stay flat. You pick 4 competitors, you pick your 4 best competitors, and you’re looking at it from an indices standpoint, right?

What is my fair share to what I know of those 4 competitors doing? You can get a lot from Smith Travel Research. You can, you know get projections from CBRE, there’s a lot of, you know, companies out there that have their own data that they feel that they can kind of tell you how a market’s performing.

Let’s just say they give you that these 4 hotels or this market’s performing at X. So that doesn’t do enough for me because you know what? We find a lot in the markets we compete in, is there will be outliers right? There will be one hotel that’s just performing off the charts and it’s bringing up the average of the other three or one at the bottom.

So our real goal is to say, “what are those 4 doing and how do we index or penetrate to those 4 and/or each individual? Because if the one’s throwing it off the chart and we think we should be right underneath them, what does that look like? And I think the misnomer is people think when you create a compset that you’re just creating it to get your fair share, you’re creating it to get a hundred, and to be honest, most of our properties and the compsets we face are never that hundred, right? We have goals that are 220 for RevPAR index, and we have some that are 80, and we have one that’s like right at 70, and that’s the right share because of what it does. And, I’ll add to that I, I put a lot of emphasis on my team to really knowing what, what a true SWAT analysis and what the details of that property are, and then put it to the general manager, right?

Like, what do they have that we don’t, like, you know, does an owner think, think we’re that hotel? I got a good instance where, you know, an owner and I were just back and forth on, on what we truly deemed as those goals, and it turns out that like, what he thought was, the best hotel in that we should be, even with them, well, come to find out, they have a year round indoor pool, they had bikes, they had a spa, and they had access to 36 holes of golf. And we didn’t have any of those, maybe the bikes, but it was just the point of like, did we know that was that enough to line us up, is that why guests are booking with them?

And in asking all those kind of questions, you can kind of come to an inference of, if a location and quality of product’s all the same, what are the differentiators and defining all that really will help position your product against your deemed competitors.

Karen Stephens: Yeah, that’s, that’s great insight. I think it, that’s something that folds into that, as well is understanding your customer segments, right? So which customers, which piece of the business is gonna resonate with your property? So can you talk to us a little bit about segmentation and how you think about that, kind of folded into the forecasting and the other things you’re doing?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah, same context. So, I just had a conversation, I, it’s Wednesday, Monday, about this, this same instance with a, a revenue person on our team. You know, they, we have a property that, that sits out at a different location, is about 50 less keys than the compset. And, the general manager, someone pinged us, “is our in indices off, we seem to be lagging a little bit in occupancy?” So as we dove into segmentation, realizing and looking at, you know, we had a, a comp that averaged each hotel probably averaged 5 to 10,000 more square feet of space than us. They were in more of the corporate part of the market.

And, and that one, look, the joke on marketing is that you get to make a lot of assumptions. Karen, you oversee marketing, so it’s fun game to say, you know, um, we have to make the assumption at some point, right? But you make the assumption with qualified data on locations and et cetera to say, all right, well, there’s 2 fortune 500 companies within 3 blocks of these hotels. They’re not within ours, is the likelihood that all the business we see through a, you know, agency, 360 going into the market, is going into theirs? And there’s another tool that you could say, you know, kind of leads you to, to make those assumptions, right? You define a compset, you put it in there.

So yeah, we took a look at segmentation, and felt like for our hotel, we had the right performance, but what we were missing via star, wasn’t an occupancy number. We were actually not getting a segment of business that they were getting that probably with the, the location and their brand versus our location, our brand wasn’t going to be an extreme possibility to flip the tables.

Karen Stephens: Right. So that’s very good point. So there’s segments in terms of corporate versus leisure. And then there’s also like, what kind of customer do you resonate with within that, right? So we, at Revinate are always focused on knowing your guests and understanding who’s booking your hotel, what channel they’re coming in on, how long they’re staying.

And I think all of that folds in, but I think that’s really insightful cuz people could be looking at a star report and saying, “why am I not capturing that piece of business?” Well, you need to think about what segments are going into that other hotel and then maximizing the segments that you actually can get a piece of.

Johnathan Capps: I mean for us, COVID may be the ultimate example of understanding your segmentation historically and what it looks like going forward. We’re talking about where, we have some small properties that, I mentioned sales earlier, but they may not even have a salesperson, they may not even have, they may have a boardroom if that, and no food and beverage, except for breakfast, some have a bar, you know, you take a place like that, that may have done, 10 to 15% group before. And then now in the rebound of COVID that group hasn’t come back and you’ve replaced most of it. So now you’re questioning that’s, you know, back to our, bring it full circle in our budgeting question is you’ve seen a, a segment not rebound completely yet. You’ve replaced it with a segment now, you can use it in the world of bets or, we say, when do we start hedging, right? Like you, you’re, you’re riding a high of, well, I’m not taking, call it a discount group piece of business anymore to get 10 rooms on the books. I’ve actually replaced it with an equally spending customer because you know, we’re talking about places that don’t have big banquets and catering business. But, how, how long do I ride that wave of, “I’m gonna turn away group to keep taking this leisure”, or “when am I gonna be the one and what are the signs gonna be to recognize that, that leisure slipping?” and, you’re gonna need to take some of that group. And it happened this summer a little bit, but all that happened was pace fell off and it still came in at the last minute.

So it’s almost, you had a false sign there for a second in some of our seasonal markets that pace slipped even more over 21, and you’re like, “oh wait”, but then it came in at last minute.

Karen Stephens: Interesting. So, yeah, we’ve heard a lot about that. You’ve got a really shortened booking window. People are, you know, getting out they’re like you said, they’re just maybe not planning as much in advance. And there has been some chatter out there about leisure starting to, to come back. Like, you know, just at a, at a macro level, a lot of people were trapped in their homes for so long and now, and they took their big vacations this summer, and now they have a hangover from that.

So, I think we are starting to hear directionally that, and then group is coming back. Right? Cuz a lot of people have a lot of companies have moved trips, orr conferences, because they wanted people to travel this summer. So that, that’s interesting. I’m wondering, are you seeing any, any case of, cause we’ve got so many people now that are remote working, are your hotels starting to see some of that as well?

Because they are kind of in those cool markets where somebody maybe just wants some peace and quiet and can work remote?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah, I think, I think we see it. You know, if you, if you’re active in the lobby, this, this may go back, I’m gonna keep, putting some dates on, being in the industry so long, but you know, you go back to the, the revenue, call, the revenue meeting where you’re asking, you know, what is, what does it look like?

Cause there’s not a, there’s not a source segment someone’s gonna fill, fill out, or a rate plan that someone’s gonna book. That’s like, I’m taking a work trip, but I’m gonna mix it into leisure, right? You, you’re gonna see that through someone working in the lobby, you know, potentially, or just the conversation.

So it, it’s funny. It’s almost like we gotta force some of those conversations of what, what brought you here? You know, why, why are you, why are you visiting us this trip? But yeah, I think we’re seeing some, I mean, my activity in the hotels, I think we’re seeing some, I think you can see it through, this is the, the basic data in me talking, of how you can see it is like the corporate business hasn’t come back and weekdays are, are doing pretty decently, right?

Karen Stephens: There you go.

So you’ve returned, you’ve returned a Wednesday to traditional Wednesday occupancy without the corporate full corporate business that drove the Wednesday occupancy.

So that’s me saying? Yeah, I would guess it has to be something the people doing. Cause I know it’s, I mean every company in the world hasn’t gone to unlimited PTO. So those people all just can’t be visiting some of these markets leisurely. But I think there is something to that without overreacting and be like, yeah, everyone’s traveling and putting business behind it.

Karen Stephens: Right. Leisure, I guess is the, the buzzword.

Johnathan Capps: Yeah.

I have a hard time saying it. I saw another one the other day. It’s just already that one for me. I, I hesitated when we talked earlier to say boutique, because like that word got gobbled up by the industry. And then it’s, you know, it’s got such a broad meeting and the blazer thing, you know, I don’t know that we can adopt it as an industry.

There, there’s another good one floating around, and now I can’t remember it for life of me, but I liked it so much more. So maybe we’ll find it.

Karen Stephens: Okay. Maybe that’ll come up, come up as we keep talking. Yeah. It’s like, is bleisure gonna be the new segment? And Jonathan’s vote is hopefully not, so, so let’s move on. What about tech adoption? I mean, obviously technology company over here. So do you think that hotels are gonna be investing in technology, uh, for 2023 and beyond what hotelier likely do, what do you think the right approach should be when they’re thinking about their tech stack?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah. I had this conversation. Last week, because I think we’re, we were getting into the adoption age. We were right there, right? Like 19, felt like we were gonna start breaking some costs. I’ve attended, you know, a few HITECS over the last few years. And you just, you felt like there was just a break in the space where, you know, either, companies were, were growing, you know, like yours and some others, or there was some disruptors entering the space where it like wasn’t a traditional hospitality company. It was a tech company. And, you know, we’ve had some cool stuff open up to, to the technology, in the space. But I, I would say that with the concern of, as we talk about budgeting in the sense that, you know, if there’s another buzzword in the industry or, you know, across all companies globally is labor, right?

That uptick in labor, you know, has been so dramatic and so quick. I worry that it pushes the, the tech adoption down. Now my, my asterisk on that will be, you know, it might push, it might push any new initiative down. A lot of times the new initiatives are in a sense of, I, I think tech related these days, they feel, they feel more that in the space is, I think two things. I think, and a lot of times in the tech space, it’s hard to quantify the value in a one year picture, so doing it in the, in the process of a budgeting process is not exactly the big sell, right? Because you need to show a, 2 to 3 year impact, so I think the thing for me is, is to not get that cut, is it may take a little extra work.

It may take doing a, 1 year budget and a, 3 year proforma and saying, well, here’s how that looks to impact year 2 and year 3 is, I, I don’t think a lot of times you’re gonna put a new system, or adopt a new tech, and you’re 3 months in, and it’s gonna knock out an FTE all of a sudden, right?

You’re not the, the robots delivering towels, aren’t just taking up a houseman position. In the first 3 months, I mean, probably still holding a position because someone needs to, to, to load it and do other things. So, I think there’s just some time it takes for those things. And I think the, sell to leadership, to ownership is that, you know, this is a long term impact.

It, it puts us on an equal footing, or puts us a leg up. It provides value to the guest. You know, it’s not always a, labor replacement, or something to that effect, or an expense savings. It, might support a value. So I think, you know, for someone to put their sales hat on and say, you know, “what is the piece that it’s bringing all across the board?” Right? And does it, not only impact a savings piece, but also a guest-facing piece.

Karen Stephens: I, I do think that anytime you look at technology, you have to ask the question. Obviously it’s gotta be ultimately profitable for the business, right? It’s gotta, it’s gotta make sure that you keep profitability in there. And also guest experience is very important. That’s gotta be at the center of it.

But I love this idea of looking at, you know, it goes into budget for 1 year, but what is the return over 2 or 3 years? Because a lot of times it’s about making sure that you’re, you’re also thinking ahead of the curve, and that you’re preparing yourself for the, for the next round of, of whatever comes.

Maybe not always about replacing a full-time employee, there might not be a full, you know, you might have issues staffing in the first place, you know? So are there tools that can maintain guest experience, but still, help with the staffing shortage? And, but I, I love that concept. It’s not always like a 1-to-1, really ratio, right? You have to think about it a little bit.

Johnathan Capps: Yeah. And I think the other thing is, some of that money is, is gonna end up going to protecting vulnerabilities, which is the unfortunate case too, right? It’s always like you think about the things that aren’t guest facing. I always put it like, you know, a new chiller, right? You hear it from engineering and, you need a new chiller or the roof needs to be replaced.

Well, you’re not gonna go throw it on the website and have a popup and be like, hey guest, we just, you know, made sure the roof didn’t leak, so, you know, we’re going with five more dollars on, on our pricing this year, right? So, you know, there’s gonna be some of those things then that may be the second level of battle. How deep you go in the cyber protections, and, and the security vulnerabilities that, you know, as we grow as an industry, and as there’s APIs to, to 30 different systems. And, as you’re bringing in all this great new tech, the, the servicing of it, and, the malware behind it, and the protection of it, of you and your people, has to grow.

And that’s something that’s, you know, constantly on our director of technology’s mind is, as much as we’re rolling these out, what are the SOPs? What are, what are the protections behind it to always make sure our guests are protected? Whether it’s from a pure safety standpoint, but mostly on, on the cyber standpoint.

Karen Stephens: Absolutely. Yeah. You have to make sure that your data, your, your data is your number one asset, right? It’s, it’s your number one asset. It’s also your number one vulnerability. We say that a lot at Revinate, you know, it’s like.

Johnathan Capps: I was gonna say, you guys are probably in that so.

Karen Stephens: Oh yeah. Yeah, we have a whole team that, you know, we make sure that everything that we do, we, we run tests on ourselves constantly, and obviously work with great vendors ourselves that have all those securities in check, because that is our number one asset.

And it’s also, you know, the thing that has to be most protected because we’re, we’re holding that data for our customers. So that’s, take it very seriously. Very, very seriousely.

All right to wrap this up, can you think about maybe 3 to 5 areas for hoteliers to pay special attention to, as we’re in the middle of this budget season and coming to the end?

So what are, what are kind of your pieces of advice to leave the listeners with?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah, I I’ll kind of stay on the homefront and kind of where I’m focused is. Is one, as much as you wanna forecast and put out there what’s next year, I think the current picture is telling us, you know, what is, what does this last end of this year look like? And how well does that carry?

So, as you’re, we’re talking about booking windows inside of 30 to 45 days, the trend of that continuing and, and how does that continue in support your budgeting? So that performance and, a good fall may be, looking to an upside of, of carrying into the winter, into the first part of next year.

And also, you know, taking a breath and saying, as you’ll see out there as numbers change, we don’t, there’s not a crystal ball floating out there. That will transition me to say, you know, dive as deep into your sub-market and your compset as you can, cuz defining yourself and your positioning and what you and your competitors do in the moment, I think is the biggest driver for me in, in knowing that. Because you can put an assumption on all day, you know, everything goes with assuming. No national market economic back turn, you know, kind of play things, the. the slowing environment may be okay versus because you know, no one, no one could say that right now.

We’re not into that. We don’t wanna say that. So, you know, what does that look like in, in those short term pictures? And what does that, that concept look like? And I think to close it where we closed it, on the tech side, I’d say, you know, go for those, right? Continue looking at those. Innovative processes. Whether it’s on the forefront or on the back of scenes where, you know, maybe it’s a technology that makes your staff communicate better, makes them stronger, or maybe it’s guest facing and it makes the experience that much better. But, knowing that there’s a lot of good players in our industry that can support that there’s some great tech out there and that, you know, don’t let that overcoming of, of now you’re looking at a budget that’s just gone so much up by labor that it, you know, slows down your tech adoption.

When right now we’re at a good point in our industry to, you know, kind of move that forward.

Karen Stephens: Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much. My guest has been Johnathan Capps with Charlestowne Hotels. And Jonathan, is there. Can you tell our listeners where to go if they’d like to learn more about CharlestowneHotels?

Johnathan Capps: Yeah, Just maybe spell it out just for the trick. Uh, C H A R L E S T O W N E Hotels with an s .com.

Karen Stephens: Awesome. Well, thank you’ve been a, you’ve been a great guest and I wish you luck getting through this season and, and thank you for being here today.

Johnathan Capps: Thanks for having me Karen. This is great.

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