Spotlight On: Michael Chin, General Manager and Regional Director for Eden Roc Miami Beach/Nobu Hotel Miami

Spotlight On: Michael Chin, General Manager and Regional Director for Eden Roc Miami Beach/Nobu Hotel Miami

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read March 2020 — The hospitality market in Miami-Dade may have started to feel a level of oversaturation but the market overall is still at an advantage in comparison to other large markets across the nation due to location and a friendly tax environment, Michael Chin, general manager and regional director for Eden Roc Miami Beach/Nobu Hotel Miami Beach, told Invest:. He also discussed embracing the sharing economy as an alternative rather than increased competition in the market and the difference in demographics that options like this attract. 

 

 

With new entries into the region, do you believe the hospitality market in Miami-Dade is nearing a level of oversaturation?  

 

Miami is in a position where some hospitality entities feel a level of oversaturation, but I don’t think we are in that kind of market yet, especially when compared to markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Las Vegas. We have a mix of boutique and local hotels, and we are starting to see developments for the larger hotels coming into the area. This includes the expansion of some larger properties in the Downtown  and Brickell areas. The demand is still there in regard to new hotels in Miami-Dade.

 

What is the biggest advantage to your location in Miami Beach? 

 

Our biggest advantage in regard to where we are located is right out our back doors: the beach. The number of properties that have direct beach access is what people come to South Beach for. Right now, some of the hotels, like in Downtown Miami, aren’t as attractive to certain visitors coming to Miami because they don’t want to be in an urban area. They do not want to just see the water, they want to be at the water. This is why our location on the beach is probably our biggest attraction for new guests. We also have an advantage thanks to our offerings in comparison to our neighbors. We thrive off of the proximity to the Fontainebleau. We may not have the capability to have a nightclub on our premises like the surrounding hotels, but the people who come in here and visit us prefer us as an alternative place to go to eat and have a different type of experience.

 

How do you view newer entries into the hospitality market like Airbnb and the sharing economy? 

 

My background comes from a corporate hospitality structure and we addressed the issue of the sharing economy on a corporate level years ago. Since then, my stance really has not changed. We cannot view services like Airbnb as competition, they are simply just an alternative. The consumer is going to stay where they want to stay. If their preference is to have longevity and a lot of space, then they are going to choose an option like Airbnb because it is something that they will not get in a hotel. People who stay at hotels, stay based on what they are looking for. Today, the demographics related to age, income and food preferences are going to determine where a person stays more than the price of a hotel or its location. The hospitality industry has corporate executives who sit in a room and  determine how they are going to capture every type of traveler out there and how they are going to define every generation, demographic and region to find a suitable hotel choice for them. At a hotel like ours, travelers are going to stay here because they want the features of convenience in regard to housekeeping, room service, amenities and entertainment. Hotels have the consistency value. You have expectations when you stay in a hotel. There are a lot of factors that go into why a person picks and chooses where they want to stay but it all comes down to preference. 

 

How does the hospitality sector in Miami have an advantage over other large markets across the nation? 

 

People still want to go to places like Orlando, Dallas or Las Vegas, but every city has its issues, whether that’s overtaxation like in California or overpopulation like in New York. We have the opportunity to attract those tourists to a new market like Miami that doesn’t have these issues. It is about us getting out there to advertise Miami as a viable option to host both tourists and business travelers. Events like the Super Bowl help strengthen this idea.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.edenrochotelmiami.com/

 

 

Spotlight On: Stan Lifsey, Co-Owner, The Current Hotel

Spotlight On: Stan Lifsey, Co-Owner, The Current Hotel

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — In 2020, creating experiences and innovation are two of the main keys to success in the hospitality industry. Stan Lifsey, the co-owner of The Current Hotel, recognized this and used it to help develop one of the newest hotel offerings in the Tampa Bay region. After receiving an initial positive reception, Lifsey is looking to continue capitalizing on the momentum while also pushing the hotel’s innovative approach to hospitality as customer demands continue to change. 

 

 

 How are visitors and residents in the Tampa Bay community reacting to the newest addition to the hotel scene? 

 

We wanted to take advantage of our strategic location on the water, so all 180 rooms have a waterfront view. We also wanted to partner with the best local brands in Tampa Bay and feature them, along with other local artists, in our hotel. This hotel is a one of a kind product and in a one of a kind location. We have been open for a short while, but so far we are very happy with how we have been received by the local community and the visitor turnout to the hotel. The customer feedback from both locals and visitors has been extremely positive, especially regarding the unique brand and design we have brought to Tampa Bay. We built this hotel with the idea to break the mold and cookie-cutter box that the hospitality sector in this region seemed to be stuck in with regards to architecture, interior design and concept.

 

Do you believe the demand curve will support the multiple new hotels coming online this year in the region? 

 

I believe the demand curve will be able to support all the new hotel inventory coming online, but that is with a caveat. I’d be interested to see how many of the current deals actually end up being built because of rising construction costs. Construction costs are at an all-time high, construction labor is incredibly tight and land is expensive. We were fortunate enough to have built when we did, but this market is becoming increasingly challenging. It requires a lot of equity to get these deals done and built.

 

Having all this new supply of rooms in the market is providing positive momentum and growth to the Tampa Bay Region and certainly makes entities like Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission’s jobs a little easier. Being able to offer this type of innovative product that is coming online really speaks to the evolution of the Tampa Bay hospitality market. We have been an undervalued market for quite a while, but with all the free press that Tampa Bay is receiving thanks to massive development’s like Water Street Tampa, it is driving more people into the region, which increases the demand for more hotels. All of which is ultimately great for the economy of the entire region.

 

How have you seen the hospitality industry adapt to changing customer demands? 

 

The overall hospitality market is moving more toward unique guest experiences. Guests want a different vibe and experience whenever they visit a new hotel. This is where the hospitality market is going not only for leisure travelers but also for corporate travelers. The upfront cost may be more to developers and owners but on the back end, your rate and the desire of people wanting to frequent your hotel is much greater.

 

The idea when building this hotel was that we didn’t want to adapt to anything. We wanted to be  contrarian and blaze our own path. When we started this whole process, we had to engage a branding company and we went through about nine months of branding. Current was not just something that we landed on. The Current name is to do with the fact that we are on the water. It is also a nod to our wave ceiling inside the hotel lobby rotating art gallery and that we want to always be current and innovative in our approach. We always want our brand to shine through in everything we do, which ultimately benefits the customer experience.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tparo-the-current-hotel-autograph-collection/

 

Spotlight On: Shaun Kwiatkowski, General Manager, The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa

Spotlight On: Shaun Kwiatkowski, General Manager, The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The hospitality industry in Tampa Bay welcomed several new hotel offerings into the marketplace in 2019, and 2020 is going to see the introduction of even more inventory. Invest: spoke to Shaun Kwiatkowski, the general manager of one of the newest offerings to the Tampa Bay region, The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa.  Besides a bountiful 2019, Kwiatkowski also spoke about the importance and benefits of operating as an independent brand in a market that is saturated with corporate offerings, as well as his view on the impact of the sharing economy in the Bay. 

 

 

 

How would you describe The Godfrey’s performance in 2019? 

 

In 2019, we enjoyed the continued market penetration of our brand. We are still pretty new and usually the ramp-up period for a hotel brand in this market can take up to five years to really penetrate and become established, especially a new, independent hotel like The Godfrey. We do not have the Marriott or the Hilton behind us, so we have to rely on a lot of specific strategies to execute. We feel that we have been able to penetrate the market effectively in a short period of time. We have had a lot of growth, which we measure by ADR growth. We had almost double-digit ADR growth last year, which equates to RevPar growth in the hotel’s revenue results. We’re very thankful and proud that we have been able to grow that ADR a little bit faster than the market as a whole. When you look at the Tampa Bay market this past year, occupancy rates had stayed pretty much flat, but I believe that has a lot to do with the additional room supply coming into the market. 

 

How has operating as an independent brand been beneficial and a challenge to the hotel? 

 

Being an independent brand can create benefits, but there are also challenges to that. As the business and the industry have evolved, demand has changed and today, many people want something different from the corporate type of hotel. Not to take anything away from those brands, but people do want to have the unique and fun experience that an independent brand can provide, similar to our food and beverage experience in WTR Pool & Grill. That is exactly who we are. If we look at the market as a whole, we are starting to see some of those big-name brands evolve into a more independent style. We are seeing those independent, millennial-focused brands growing in popularity, especially in this area.

 

A big challenge for us across the industry is employee retention and finding the right talent. We drive employee retention through the culture that we create within the hotel. If we find a good employee, we reward them and we guide them through their career. When we are looking at recruiting people to fill our open positions, it is more about the person than their skills. I can teach you most of the skills to be a front desk agent or to be a server, but I can’t teach you to smile. I can’t teach you to be positive and warm. This means we always have to be in our recruiting mindset and look for those individuals who have the hospitality spirit.

 

How has the sharing economy impacted your business, if at all? 

 

In regards to the impact from the sharing economy and things like Airbnb, there’s enough room for everyone to play, from our perspective. The Godfrey has not seen a major impact from the sharing economy. If the average person does a normal search of Airbnbs in this region, there is not as large an inventory as you might find in Boston or Chicago. That being said, when we look at what Airbnb is doing and the future of their booking channel, that is something that’s on our radar. If there is an opportunity there that works for us, we are going to investigate it and see if there is enough return on investment to try and implement something similar.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.godfreyhoteltampa.com/

 

6 New Areas of Study You Didn’t Know Were in Miami

By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read JULY 2019 — Technology has reshaped not only how education is delivered but what courses are being taught, with universities and colleges revamping their curriculums to better prepare students with the skills employers demand. 

In Miami, local public and private higher education institutions have upgraded their academic offerings and have focused on working with local businesses to provide opportunities for more than a quarter-million students. 

Invest: Miami spoke with local leaders in the sector to get an update on their new offerings.

Florida International University (FIU)

FIU recently added a bachelor’s of science in the Internet of Things to provide knowledge and expertise in modern digital communication devices. It is also beginning to develop lifelong learner programs, including weekend, just-in-time and certificate programs related to technological and data-literacy development.

“Skill sets are increasingly becoming multidisciplinary in almost all areas. It’s a whole new world out there, and we want to make sure that our students are at the cutting edge of that,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg, when he recently sat down with the Invest: Miami team.  

University of Miami Graduate school: 

UM Graduate School will add a degree program centered on climate change and health as part of a set of new interdisciplinary programs in the works. 

“We have to continue to push the envelope and be innovative. Educational programs tend to be concentrated, and I believe we need to continue developing interdisciplinary programs. We must give students an opportunity to practice some of their non-discipline-specific skills as well,” Guillermo “Willy” Prado, dean of UM Graduate School, said.

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine:

The school is revamping its curriculum to focus on using “entrustable professional activities” to determine the competency of a medical student, as opposed to the traditional four-year structure. The approach will allow students to complete an earlier transition from medical school to residency. 

“We are in the process of designing a Miller-specific curriculum that we believe will be the model that other institutions will mimic for years to come. There has been a lot of evolution in the field, and we believe we have an opportunity to innovate and help lead in that domain,” said Dr. Henri Ford, dean and chief academic officer of Miller School of Medicine, in an interview with Invest:. 

Miami Business School (MBS): 

MBS is starting a 10-month M.S. in sustainable business next August. “That will be the first STEM-certified M.S. in sustainable business degree in the country,” Dean of MBS John Quelch told Invest:.

University of Miami School of Law:

The law school established joint degrees with University of Miami schools covering at least 10 specialties. “We’re the most interdisciplinary unit within the university. Many of our curricular offerings and our rich, intensive clinical education program in various substantive areas such as human rights, immigration and environmental justice are deeply interdisciplinary,” Patricia White, dean of the University of Miami School of Law, told Invest:.

UM Division of Continuing & International Education:

UM Division of Continuing & International Education launched certificates in coding and cybersecurity as part of its academic focus on STEM. The division’s dean, Rebecca MacMillan Fox, told Invest: that both certificates “have exceeded our expectations for enrollment and industry demand.” 

The division is also launching a GPRO Certificate Program (Green Professional Building Skills Training) that is customized for the climate and regional needs of South Florida.

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Florida International University (FIU): https://www.fiu.edu/ 

University of Miami Graduate School: https://www.grad.miami.edu/ 

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine: http://med.miami.edu/ 

Miami Business School (MBS): https://www.bus.miami.edu/ 

University of Miami School of Law: https://www.law.miami.edu/ 

UM Division of Continuing & International Education: https://www.dcie.miami.edu/