How We Built an Extended-Stay Hotel Empire from the Ground Up

Ryan Rivett, President & CEO, My Place Hotels

Extended-stay hotels are one of the hottest segments of hospitality today, and My Place Hotels stands out as a leader in this space. Today, President & CEO Ryan Rivett shares with us what led him to start the company and what he’s learned over the past 10 years building My Place into the powerhouse it is today.

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How We Built an Extended-Stay Hotel Empire from the Ground Up

with Ryan Rivett, President & CEO, My Place Hotels

The challenge and opportunity

Before launching My Place, Ryan and his team were involved in construction and development, operating hotels under other brands. But they saw a trend that disturbed them.

The fundamentals had become overtaken by marketing, amenities, and things that didn't seem to be productive for the hotel operator.

Observing inconsistencies in budget expectations and support from other brands, they believed they could do better, and the idea for My Place emerged. They wanted to create a hotel brand that better aligned with their views on effective and efficient hotel operations.

They decided to build a company that was vertically integrated to overcome these challenges.

Since the very beginning we have been vertically integrated. We do everything in-house. If I'm focusing on an element of construction for one of our hotels, I have to also consider management and development, because those are elements of my overall business and my day-to-day.

The benefits and challenges of vertical integration

While efficiency is the first thing I thought of as a benefit to vertical integration, Ryan sees an even bigger benefit:

Vertical integration creates value and balance, so you get diversification of your daily activities inside of your primary objective. If it's a slow period for hotel operations, maybe construction has quite a few projects in the pipeline and is doing better, so through that you get a lot of diversification.

Control is another benefit, Ryan says, which is especially attractive as an investor.

You become an expert in more of the areas that your investment entails.

But - “The drawbacks are not insignificant either,” Ryan said. Vertical integration demands significant infrastructure, capital, and support. While it's great to have experts in every aspect of the business, recruiting them is challenging.

Still, Ryan wouldn’t have it any other way.

It's very rewarding, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I know it’s the right model for us.

Balancing consistency with change

I asked Ryan what he’s learned building My Place into the powerhouse it is today over the past 10 years, and while he’s happy with how much the original concept has retained its appeal - he has had to change less than he thought - we talked about the need to balance consistency with evolution as key for leading a company like this.

Creating or finding that balance among a team and finding that balance with the support systems and the people desiring to be supported really comes most naturally by asking questions, creating an idea or creating an objective and then going and pushing it out there for people to try. It doesn't necessarily work unless, prior to doing those things, you've gone out and asked enough people, “How is this working for you? What would this look like if you tried this differently? Have you tried this and this and that in order to see where it works?”

We all are creatures of habit, Ryan says.

Unless you challenge them to change something that they're doing, they don't necessarily change it. Asking those questions really expands the purview of people on both sides. It doesn't always happen, but when you find people on both sides of that equation that are willing to expand their purview and say, oh yeah, maybe I could try that, you find them coming a lot closer together. The conflict is really when it's binary. When that relationship is binary, it doesn't work. It breeds conflict. You really have to create a multi-dimensional engagement in order to try new things and see what works and quickly move out of them when they don't.

This isn’t all. In our podcast today, we cover:

  • Ryan's career journey

  • Lessons from a fishing lodge and other formative early experiences

  • Building a world-class company in Aberdeen, South Dakota

  • Getting into construction

  • The difference between construction & development

  • Lessons learned from the past 10 years

  • Hotels & economic development

  • What Ryan looks for in locations for expansion

  • Where Ryan gets inspiration

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