By David Berman | October 11, 2023
At BITAC Owners Symposium Summit, taking place from October 9-11 at the Playa Largo Resort & Spa in Key Largo, Florida, attendees experienced a panel with two female executives about the landscape for women in hospitality lending.
Lisa Lombardo, President and Chief Culture and Strategy Officer at HDG Hotels, and Jyoti Sarolia, President & CEO at Ellis Hospitality, were the featured speakers during the 25-minute session on Tuesday afternoon.
Lombardo said that a sign of progress for the industry is that conversations about gender equality in hospitality lending are now being held in rooms with both men and women in them.
“When it first came out, it was ‘let’s have women get together and talk about women,’” Lombardo said. “I find that to be very much like trying to get a bunch of Republicans in a room and have them think of (something a Democrat) might feel.”
She also cited the 35th anniversary of the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which, among other notable advancements, eliminated all individual state laws that required women to have a male relative sign a business loan. Lombardo said that opportunities and rights for women in the business world have advanced significantly in a relatively short period of time.
“This wasn’t like it was in the 1940s or 1950s,” she said. “This was 1988.”
Sarolia said that she’s seen women become more and more excited to do their own deals in the last 10 years.
“They want to work with the brands, they want to work with purchasing the property,” Sarolia said. “They want to work in the landscape. It’s taken us 30 years to get to where we are so it’s definitely in the positive direction, and I’m really excited to see that.”
A bulk of the conversation covered the 6 C’s of Lending, an idea that Sarolia developed with influence from the 5 C’s of Credit. Sarolia’s 6 C’s are Character, Capacity, Capital, Collateral, Condition and Communication. The idea is that if a prospective hotel owner can master all 6 of these inputs, they will be much more capable of receiving a loan.
Sarolia identified Character, Capital and Communication as the three most vital “C’s.” On the Character side, Lombardo said that one’s personal life, especially their financial decisions, can influence a lender positively or negatively.
“You cannot be sitting in front of your lender or a potential lending relationship and saying that this payment is going to be tough, this is going to be hard … and then be driving the fanciest car on the market,” Lombardo said.
Sarolia echoed Lombardo, adding that integrity is a major factor for lenders.
Wrapping up the conversation, Lombardo gave some quick tips for the lending space. She said that the one constant in lending is that there will always be variables. She also said it’s important to accurately project expenses for new construction and PIPs and surrounding yourself with trustworthy, supportive partners.
Sarolia’s final thoughts included encouraging anybody who has thought about owning a hotel to chase their dreams.
“If you have a dream, pursue it, and don’t be afraid,” she said. “There are so many different ways of getting into the hotel business. I just say, you know what? No matter who you’re working for, just give it a try, and you can do it as your side hustle.”