Business & Finance

McNeill Hotel Company Breaks Ground on Homewood Suites in Athens, Georgia

ATHENS, GA. March 1, 2017 – McNeill Hotel Company held official groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel in Athens, Georgia. McNeill is building the all-suite property.

Scheduled to open in Spring of 2018, the Homewood Suites – Athens is located at the edge of “The Mark”, a mixed-use development now under construction on nine acres between East Broad and Oconee streets on the eastern edge of downtown Athens. The hotel will have 130 guest room suites featuring spacious one and two bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens and a separate living room area. Guests will enjoy extra comforts like free Wi-Fi, online check in and room selection, guest laundry room, pet friendly, and free grocery shopping service. A complimentary hot breakfast is served each morning and on Monday through Thursday guests will enjoy the complimentary evening social gathering.

Based in Germantown, Tennessee, McNeill Hotel Company currently also owns and operates the Hilton-branded Hampton Inn Athens, located on West Broad Street. In total, the company operates 14 hotels across the Southeast, including other Hampton Inns, and the Marriott-branded Fairfield Inn & Suites, Towne Place Suites, Courtyard and Residence Inns.

“When we were approached about developing a hotel as a part of the overall project, we immediately thought the Homewood Suites by Hilton brand would be a perfect fit,” said Mark Ricketts, President and COO of the McNeil Hotel Company. “It provides the city of Athens with an upscale, extended stay product that was currently lacking in the market. The location is first class with its proximity to Downtown, the Classic Center, the University and Sanford Stadium. Its unique design and layout will provide the guest with a completely unique hotel experience.”

Ricketts also added the Homewood Suites Athens will have upgraded guest amenities such as expanded exercise room, huge outdoor seating area with grills and fire pit, 1,000 square feet of meeting space, media room with billiard table and bar area.

About McNeill Hotel Company

Headquartered in Germantown, Tennessee, McNeill Hotel Company focuses on select service hotels with a growth strategy based on a mix of new hotel development, meaningful acquisitions and third party management agreements. The company is an approved franchisee for both Marriott and Hilton. Phillip McNeill, Jr and Mark Ricketts, the company's principals, are 2nd generation hoteliers with over 60 years of combined experience in the hotel industry, encompassing nearly every discipline of the business.

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Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.