Articles Posted in Hotel Management Agreements

Published on:

23 June 2015

Jack Westergom, Managing Director of Manhattan Hospitality Advisors, discusses hotel operating agreements, asset management, and the RFP process in the video below.

Jack spoke with David Sudeck, a senior partner in the JMBM Global Hospitality Group®, as part of our video interview series on hotel finance and investment opportunities in 2015.

A transcript follows the video.

Jack Westergom discusses hotel operating agreements, asset management and cycles - Meet the Money®


David Sudeck: I’m David Sudeck. I’m a senior attorney with Global Hospitality Group® at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell. We’re here at the 25th Annual Meet the Money® Conference. I’m here with Jack Westergom, Managing Director of Manhattan Hospitality Advisors. Welcome.

Jack Westergom: Thank you. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

22 December 2014

Click here for the latest articles on Hotel Management Agreements.

A version of this article first appeared in Hotel Business Review in December 2014, and this article is reprinted with permission from www.hotelexecutive.com.

 
The shrinking terms of hotel management agreements

Better bargaining position for hotel owners on HMAs

by

Jim Butler and Mark S. Adams | Hotel Lawyers

The relationship between hotel owners and managers continues to evolve. Hotel management agreements historically were long-term. Fifty to sixty year terms were common. However, in the last few years, hotel owners have successfully negotiated shorter contract durations and other more favorable terms, even from the largest and most sought-after major brands. This trend is likely to continue and expand as brands realize that hotel owners have the power to terminate so-called no cut, long-term hotel management agreements, despite contrary provisions in the contract which courts now routinely ignore as a matter of public policy.

The Separation Of Hotel Ownership From Hotel Operations

Trade, pilgrimage, conquest, and adventure have been the driving forces of travel since ancient times. For more than 5,000 years, accommodations for these travelers were provided by inns or monasteries. These lodging facilities were typically owned and operated by the same persons. That ownership pattern still exists today, particularly among mom-and-pop operations or small chains, but more and more, there is a separation of hotel ownership and hotel management.

This trend first gained traction when Kemmons Wilson started the first hotel franchising of Holiday Inns in the 1950s, and picked up momentum in the next couple of decades when hotel operators decided to move hotel real estate off their balance sheets with sale-leaseback transactions, and when hotel investors bought hotels and elected to lease their hotels to professional hotel operators. The separation of ownership and management continued and became the prevalent structure as hotel management agreements were developed in the 1970s and proliferated in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, particularly for larger, higher-end hotel properties.

But in the last ten or 15 years the franchise model has become the dominant one, at least by number of branded rooms, and particularly for the rapidly expanded extended stay and select service segments of the industry. Under this model, ownership is separate from branding, and usually a professional (unbranded) hotel management company is a surrogate for the brand.

Ultimately, the separation of ownership and management brought about by this evolution meant that the traditional hotel companies focused more on finding more owners of hotel real estate that they could brand and manage, and the owners of hotel real estate (lacking hotel brand or management capacity) focused on collecting rents or looking to their brand and operator to optimize profits. In other words, the concept of a hotel being owned by one entity and operated by another became a preferred model, whether under a hotel lease, hotel management agreement or a franchise.

Since the 1990s, when some estimate that 60% of the hotel rooms in the U.S. were unbranded, more owners have elected to brand their hotels to access the professional management, finaceability, marketing power and resources of the brands. Today, unbranded hotel rooms probably comprise less than 20% of the hotel rooms in the U.S. This massive shift to the brands further reinforced the separation of hotel ownership from hotel branding and management.

The separation has been facilitated by the fact that hotel guests do not particularly care who owns the title to the hotel real estate as long as the hotel’s physical facilities and service levels meet their expectations and are predictable, satisfactory, clean and safe. Branding was one way to provide assurances of consistency and meeting minimum brand standards. In this evolving dynamic, brands focused on operations, brand standards, and system expansion.  They were less capital-constrained because owners now provide the bulk of capital to build and maintain hotel real estate and related facilities.

The Hotel Management Agreement (“HMA”)

The HMA is one of the clearest separations of ownership and operation. A branded HMA with one of the traditional hotel management companies is typically a long-term agreement between the owner and operator under which the operator is delegated virtual control over the operations of the hotel. The principal provisions in an HMA are, as follows: CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

18 September 2014

Hotel Lawyer: New Uniform System of Accounts will affect your hotel management and franchise agreements. Are you ready?

Commencing January 1, 2015, the hotel industry will have a new, significantly revised set of guidelines governing accounting for hotels. That is the effective date for the recently published Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry, 11th Edition (2014) (“11th Edition”). This is just one of the many things that distinguishes hotels and the hotel industry from every other class of real estate. And the new rules will have a significant impact on a number of matters in hotel management agreements.

Here is a summary of the important changes from one of our industry friends who worked on the 11th Edition, Michelle Russo of hotelAVE.
How will the 11th edition of the Uniform System
affect your management agreement?

by
Michelle Russo, CEO, Hotel Asset Value Enhancement, Inc. (hotelAVE)

The AHLA issued the new 11th edition of the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) in July 2014.   The process took almost three years and the edition reflects the first time that ownership interests were included in the Financial Management Committee that previously comprised only operators, industry consultants, CPAs and educators.  While there are many changes from the 10th to 11th editions, this article addresses what owners and operators need to evaluate to understand the impact of the 11th edition on manager fees and performance tests.

Recommendations for Evaluating Current Agreements.

The 11th edition includes title and definition changes as well as new schedules.  For example Total Revenue is replaced with a new term called Operating Revenue.  There is also a new schedule that is reported below GOP that includes revenue not generated by the operator (including interest income, other income such as antenna lease income and cost recovery income).  You or your lawyer should determine how these changes affect base fees, incentive fees and performance tests.  Please note that these changes are effective January 1, 2015. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

25 August 2014

Lately, it seems like everyone wants to buy — or sell — an independent hotel management company. And this may be one of the best times to do so in a long while. Here are some thoughts on this timely subject by two of our hotel lawyers who have just completed a successful sale of an independent operator.
Why this may be the time to buy or sell a hotel management company
A hot trend and five key issues
by
Guy Maisnik | Hotel Lawyers

One of the hottest trends right now is buying (or selling) independent hotel management companies. The demand is coming from all directions – existing management companies, investment funds and foreign buyers. Existing management companies are scrambling for market share, economies of scale and strategic markets. Investment funds are looking for the direct control over their hotel investments through a captive management company as well as attractive economic returns that a great independent operator can achieve with limited capital investment and risk compared to hotel investment. And foreign owners share many of these goals, and see the acquisition of a hotel management company as a solid way of entering into the hotel market in the United States.

From the potential seller’s standpoint, the timing may be optimal for a sale at this point in the cycle. A management company’ sale price is typically negotiated as a multiple of earnings. Traditionally, this multiple is four to six times earnings before interest and taxes, after making adjustments for expenses that would not continue to the buyer, and deducting from the price any interest-bearing debt that the buyer assumes. However, in this market, hotel management companies with a proven track record of performance, and a high quality (sustainable) earnings stream  can command a price well in excess of six times earnings before interest and taxes with multiple suitors. The demand is there, but the process is complex.

And here are five key issues or questions you should consider before buying or selling a hotel management company. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

2 April 2014

There is a new HMA Handbook! Actually, it is the HMA & Franchise Agreement Handbook (3rd edition), which makes some major updates to the “old” HMA Handbook (2nd edition).

A fundamental shift has taken place in the realm of hotel management agreements (HMAs) and we decided we could just not wait any longer to update our popular handbook on this important subject. So, it is with great excitement that my partner and co-author, Bob Braun, and I announce the publication of the 3rd edition of The HMA & Franchise Agreement Handbook.

Like all the handbooks in our We Wrote the Book™ series, it specifically addresses the needs of hotel owners, developers, investors and lenders. The news release below explains what all the commotion is about and will tell you how to get your free copy of The Handbook. As always, we invite you to share your comments and thoughts about the book with us.

Along with all the latest financing sources, and deal technology, we will be talking about HMAs and franchise agreements at the Meet the Money® national hotel finance and investment conference the first week of every May. We hope you can join us there!

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

2 March 2014

Hotel Lawyer with a guest column from an operator of independent hotels

A growing number of hotel owners are facing the question of whether and how to brand their hotels, and who should operate them. The New York Times recently estimated that more than 2,500 hotels were reflagged in a single year, and that does not count the growing wave of new hotels coming on line through the development pipeline.

The hotel lawyers of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® think the branding and management decisions faced by anyone reflagging a hotel or developing a new one are among the most important a hotel owner will ever make, and we have written a fair amount to share our experience gained over more than 1,000 hotel management agreements and many hundreds of franchise agreements. [See links at the end of this article.]
After some of our articles were published on this subject, our friends at Benchmark Hospitality International started a dialog with us about their views on this subject. After a robust exchange of emails and a telephone conversation or two with Alex Cabanas, CEO of Benchmark, I don’t know that we have any significantly different approaches, but Benchmark did have a different way of putting it, and some of their terminology may facilitate clearer thinking. In any event, we thought this “voice” should be heard, and accordingly, we offer this guest column for your consideration.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

23 January 2014

As the economy and the hotel industry fundamentals continue to improve, hotel values have recovered to pre-recession levels in many of the top 35 hotel markets, the number of hotel transactions has jumped and new capital is pouring into hotels. This new capital — whether focused on new, ground-up development, or the purchase of neglected assets with a view to deep renovation and rebranding — is increasingly seeking new brands and management for their hotels. We have not seen this many people looking for a great operator and a fair hotel management agreement in many years!

Veteran hotel owners and developers know that all this good news needs to be tempered with some cold realism about the process they are about to undertake. They know that finding a great operator and negotiating a hotel management agreement they can live with is critical to the success of their investment and the value of their hotel.

In light of the many biased articles about hotel management agreements being written by operators (or by advisors to operators), my partner Bob Braun felt it was time to challenge all the “hay that has gone through the horse” and is being spread around.

The HMA Handbook and the Hotel Law Blog provide important information on this topic. For a more detailed discussion of relevant issues, we suggest you look at the links at the end of this article.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

4 December 2013

Hotel Lawyer on the jump in hotel development and investment activity.

These are getting to be pretty exciting times to be in the hotel business. Hotel industry fundamentals have continued to improve since the Great Recession and none of the experts see a particular event or reason that fundamentals will stall. Although occupancy growth rate is slowing in some sectors, ADR growth generally continues to drive greater profits to the bottom line.

All this activity creates “management agreement opportunities”

New development is finally coming back, and 2014 may be a break-out year for long-delayed projects. The volume of purchase and sale transactions continues to grow. And owners or investors are seeking to maximize hotel value by repositioning existing assets.

The confluence of these factors is creating a lot of hotel management agreement opportunities for hotel brands, operators and owner/developers.
The 2 most important things affecting the value of your hotel

In the midst of all this activity, hotel developers and investors should remember that two of the most important things they can do with their hotel asset are to

  1. Choose the “right” brand and operator
  2. Negotiate a management agreement that preserves a reasonable amount of value, control and flexibility

And . . . get practical guidance on these issues from experienced veterans representing your interests (and only your interests) at the earliest possible time in the process.

New White Paper on short term management contracts
In case you missed it, Hotel Management recently published an excellent white paper that is highly relevant to all of these hotel management agreement opportunities. The article is called, “The Evolution of Short-Term Management Contracts“. Click here to download a PDF of the article.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

1 April 2013

Hotel owners: How the appellate decision in Marriott International v Eden Roc can affect your hotel investment (and why you should understand the law behind the court’s decision)

As we reported in our 27 March 2013 blog, a New York Appellate Division court made it possible for the owners of the Eden Roc Renaissance hotel in Miami Beach to oust Marriott as its operator — despite the long-term hotel management contract between the two, which would have lasted another 43 years. (See “Marriott loses appeal in Eden Roc case: Why all long-term hotel management agreements are now terminable.”)

Setting the stage: owner-operator disputes over hotel management agreements

The relationship between a hotel owner and hotel operator is complex. While the owner bears the financial risk of the hotel’s success or failure and its gain or loss in value, the operator has the exclusive right to manage the owner’s business and is paid “off the top” whether the hotel is profitable or not. The contract between the owner and operator — the hotel management agreement — typically transfers control of the hotel’s assets to the operator.

Hotel owners nationwide are keenly aware of both the benefits and impediments of long term hotel management agreements with branded operators (and nearly all such contracts are long term, often running 40 or 50 years). On the upside, the brand can provide stability, consistent standards, a reservation system, marketing expertise and professional staffing. But the downside can be hard for owners to live with — brands can rigidly incur needless expenses, be unresponsive to market conditions and impervious to the owner’s need to run a profitable business and protect its asset.

While the majority of hotel owners and operators work hard to achieve a balance that is a win-win for both parties, it is easy to understand how things can go badly, fast.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

29 March 2013

Hotel Lawyer on branding your hotel or running it as an independent. When should you brand your hotel and when should you leave it unbranded? How do you know when the benefits justify the costs? And if you decide to brand, should you go with brand management or an independent operator? What are the considerations?

Few decisions are more important. Here is hotel lawyer, Robert Braun to share some insights garnered by our Global Hospitality Group®’s experience in helping clients with more than 1,000 hotel management agreements and franchise agreements.


To Brand or Not To Brand
(your hotel)
by
Robert E. Braun | Hotel Lawyer

Why the hotel branding and management decisions are so important

One of the first decisions in the hotel development or acquisition process can have a lasting impact on the success of the project: whether the property should be branded, and whether that brand should manage the property. The hotel’s brand will be a defining part of the profitability, image and value of the hotel, and there may be no other decision which has a greater effect on the future of the property. Similarly, the management of a hotel can enhance the value of the brand, protect the owner, or detract from the value of the hotel — by as much as a 50% swing.

CONTINUE READING →

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