While the COVID pandemic certainly represented a challenging time for most hotel owner/operators, for Meyer Jabara Hotels this unprecedented period also in many ways provided the impetus for additional growth and an opportunity to take the company to the next level.
During this time the privately-held management company added to its portfolio, as well as its executive ranks, according to Justin Jabara, who also happened to take over as president of the company in January of 2020. The family-run company was founded by Jabara’s father, Richard—who currently serves as CEO—and William Meyer—who is the Chairman—some 45 years ago.
Justin Jabara reflected on the past few years and how the company—which now has some 31 hotels in its portfolio—emerged from the pandemic.
“It was a tough couple of years and it really took its toll on the team. But through a lot of hard work and diligence I think we did a great job of positioning the company for where we are today,” he said.
Jabara further touted the team and their efforts.
“We’re blessed with the fact that we have great people working for us. They were family before COVID and they’re family now. We couldn’t have weathered COVID if it was not for our people,” he said.
But the company certainly didn’t stand pat when it comes to its personnel. “We made some great hires during COVID,” he said.
For example, last November Meyer Jabara brought in Marriott veteran Guy Reinbold as SVP of food & beverage. The company also bolstered the development team this past May by adding Heidi Nielsen—who was previously with HVS International—as vp, investments and asset management. Meyer Jabara is also poised to announce the addition of a new CFO in the near future, according to Jabara.
In addition to investing in personnel, Meyer Jabara has also “worked extensively on IT and the infrastructure” around it, such as adding a new business intelligence enterprise system. Jabara noted the company brought in personnel around that as well, including adding a data architect as an example.
“We looked at really every one of our core services and we said ‘is this going to be industry leading in the next couple of years?’”
As an example, the company has overhauled its revenue management, according to Jabara, who pointed out it’s much “more complicated” these days then opening and closing revenue channels, particularly as the technology evolves.
“We’ve just redone our scope of services for revenue management and how they support the field. It’s much larger because the field needs more specialized support and one of the other things it means is that our revenue managers can manage less hotels,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jabara noted the company added seven hotels during COVID, many of which are “high-end independent boutique” properties. As an example, the company took over third-party management for The Menhaden in Greenport, NY, in July of 2021. During that period, Meyer Jabara also added premium branded properties as well, such as the Hampton Inn by Hilton Verona at Turning Stone, in Verona, NY, in April of 2021.
Jabara maintained the company’s properties have performed fairly well throughout the downturn as well. For example, he noted roughly two-thirds of its current portfolio are either at or above 2019 performance levels. He also expressed optimism going forward as well.
“We’ll see where ‘23 goes. I think it’s going to be a good year for us and it has the potential of being a spectacular year, both from an operations end and from a development perspective,” he said.
Jabara also remains bullish on the long-term outlook of the company and its overall growth potential, but insisted it has to be the right deal with the right partners.
“Over 45 years we’ve built, developed, bought and repositioned a lot of hotels and so the track record goes along with that. But we’re a relationship company and so as we look to expand we look for great partners. Our goal is not to take capital or investments from everybody; it’s not who we are. It’s not our platform and it’s not what has gotten us to where we are today. We’re actively out there working with and pursuing great capital partners who are like-minded, who want to have best-in-class hotels, and who think the way that we do,” he concluded.