Mr. Glincher

Hospitality Law

How to Avoid Hotel Bankruptcy

By Andrew Glincher, Office Managing Partner, Nixon Peabody LLP

Today, we have the added factor of the fear of terrorism causing many would-be travelers in the United States and around the world to feel more secure staying closer to home - placing the entire travel and hospitality industry in a precarious position.

Although the stronger properties seem to be managing, and will likely survive to see another upswing, many others - independents, smaller hotels with less defined brands, properties where margins were lower and vacancy rates were higher even during good times - are feeling the economic pressure. This is particularly true of hotels that may have taken on too much debt and are now faced with insufficient cash flow.

How should they deal with these financial woes? The most important advice one can give to a property owner in this situation is first and foremost to be honest with yourself and confront the problem directly, proactively, and as early as possible. Wishing the problem away will not work, expenses are not going to go down, nor will revenues increase on their own, and ignoring your bankers is not going to make them go away.

Following are a few steps hotel owners need to take when they begin to recognize the signs of financial distress:

Take a hard look at operating cash flow and match it up with debt service. It's important to be very comfortable with projections for the foreseeable future and feel secure in your ability to make these payments.

If cash flow is insufficient, initiate discussions with your lenders. Don't wait until you've missed payments and they come to you. In most cases, if you can provide reasonable justification, they may prefer to work with you to restructure the debt rather than to force you into bankruptcy. Maybe the term of the loan can be lengthened, maybe it can be refinanced at a lower interest rate, maybe payments can be made based on cash flow, maybe they'll be willing to defer certain payments for a period of time in return for larger payments of interest or some form of shared appreciation down the road.

Develop a plan for reducing expenses immediately. Lenders will want to know that you are serious about cutting waste if they are going to be flexible. This may involve making tough decisions to lay-off unnecessary employees, cease unprofitable operations or possibly even close portions of the hotel that require ongoing maintenance but produce little current revenue.

Identify ways in which you can squeeze additional revenue out of the existing property. Has your target market changed? Is there retail space in the lobby or other locations within the hotel? Are those tenants paying the maximum rent that the space is worth? Perhaps an analysis by a retail real estate consultant could reveal alternative uses for the space that could produce higher rentals - or identify other spaces that could be more profitably utilized.

Determine whether you are deriving maximum value from your brand. Are there minor renovations that could significantly enhance the property's value? Would an affiliation with a new marketing group produce increased revenue?

Think about the overall marketplace that the property is part of. If, for example, there is a shortage of housing, it might be possible to convert a portion of the hotel into corporate apartments.

There is often a fine line between survival in a difficult financial position and bankruptcy. Dealing with the problem aggressively and not hiding from it is the key. It may be difficult to have conversations with creditors asking them to help you through a crisis, but you have to remember that creditors are business people. They know that if your business fails, they have little chance of recouping their investment. As unpleasant as it may be, to the extent a relationship of trust exists, they would almost always prefer to work with you, knowing that if you turn things around, they may eventually obtain the return they desire. Creditors generally have no desire to be in the hotel business.

Andrew Glincher specializes in the negotiation and resolution of business and real estate disputes. Mr. Glincher has represented developers and owners of retail centers, hotels, movie theatres, office and industrial buildings and parks, utilities, restaurants, subdivisions, apartment complexes, assisted living housing complexes, long-term care facilities and condominium projects. Mr. Glincher is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts and the U.S. Tax Court. Mr. Glincher can be contacted at 617-345-1222 or aglincher@nixonpeabody.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

MARCH: Human Resources: Inspiring a Journey of Success

Cara Silletto

Ever wonder what planet your new hires are from? For most, it is called Millennialland. It is my homeland, and it is a whole different world than where Boomers and GenXers were born. So why are your younger workers from this strange land so hard to understand, manage and retain? Why is it that they lack the loyalty of those who came before them? Why do they need so much handholding in the workplace? And where does this tremendous sense of entitlement come from? Allow me to explain. READ MORE

Nicole Price

You’re just being politically correct! In America, being politically correct has taken a new meaning and now has a negative connotation. But why? Definitions can help identify the reason. The definition of political correctness is “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially discriminated against.” In simple terms, political correctness is going to the extreme to avoid insulting socially disadvantaged groups. What could be wrong with that? The issue is not them or the term, it’s us! READ MORE

Kimberly Abel-Lanier

Engaging and retaining talented, trained workers is a critical component of success for any business in any sector. When employees are disengaged or turnover is high, organizations face challenges of subpar customer service, high costs, and human resource inefficiencies. Gallup estimates rampant disengagement among employees costs American businesses between $450 billion and $550 billion per year. High turnover also carries exorbitant costs to organizations, averaging approximately 1.5x an employee’s salary for replacement. In the hospitality sector, delivery of impactful customer experiences is strongly connected to employee engagement and satisfaction. Happy, engaged employees can make happy, loyal customers. Currently; however, the hospitality sector suffers higher than average employee turnover. READ MORE

Michael Warech

So where will we find the next generation of leaders in the hospitality industry? Like their counterparts in other business sectors, this question remains top-of-mind for those responsible for finding, managing, and developing the talent needed to ensure the vitality of their organizations. While, arguably, not as glamorous as a new guest amenity or as important as a cost-saving innovation, there is nothing more critical than talent to succeed in an increasingly competitive and challenging global business environment. Leveraging the best strategies and tactics related to talent management, succession planning, workforce planning, training and leadership development are, quite possibly, a company’s most critical work. READ MORE

Coming Up In The April Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Guest Service: The Personalized Experience
In the not-too-distant future, when guests arrive at a hotel, they will check themselves in using a kiosk in the lobby, by- passing a stop at the front desk. When they call room service to order food, it will be from a hotel mobile tablet, practically eliminating any contact with friendly service people. Though these inevitable developments will likely result in delivered to their door by a robot. When they visit a restaurant, their orders will be placed and the bill will be paid some staff reduction, there is a silver lining – all the remaining hotel staff can be laser-focused on providing guests with the best possible service available. And for most guests, that means being the beneficiary of a personalized experience from the hotel. According to a recent Yahoo survey, 78 percent of hotel guests expressed a desire for some kind of personalization. They are seeking services that not only make them feel welcomed, but valued, and cause them to feel good about themselves. Hotels must strive to establish an emotional bond with their guests, the kind of bond that creates guest loyalty and brings them back time and again. But providing personalized service is more than knowing your guests by name. It’s leaving a bottle of wine in the room of a couple celebrating their anniversary, or knowing which guest enjoys having a fresh cup of coffee brought to their room as part of a wake-up call. It’s the small, thoughtful, personal gestures that matter most and produce the greatest effect. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.