As the president and CEO of Pinnacle Hotels USA, Dr. Bharat Lall directs the company in investing in underperforming hotels to increase their net operating income and correct underlying issues. Bharat Lall, MD, leads the company with an emphasis on quality service and customer satisfaction.
Successful management of any hotel requires an understanding of guest expectations. Hospitality experts suggest the following strategies to keep guests happy and increase hotel stature.
1. Good first impressions will help guests feel welcomed and comfortable walking into a hotel, but establishments that follow up with guests by keeping them informed of its amenities and offers can potentially gain lifelong customers. In addition, make sure to focus on reliable service and prompt attention to guest needs.
2. Guests want to feel comfortable and safe when they stay overnight at any hotel. Security measures should include established emergency plans that account for fire evacuations, emergency response, and management of violence, theft, and crime scenes. Also ensure that emergency kits remain well-stocked and equipment remains in working order.
3. Staying informed on what amenities guests want or need during their hotel stay–and making an effort to offer those amenities–can improve a hotel’s reputation and increase guest satisfaction. For instance, a 2014 survey concerning guest expectations of hotels demonstrated that, on average, guests would pay more for amenities such as internet connection and comfortable beds.
4. Developing partnerships with surrounding businesses can provide mutual benefits for both parties. Advertisements, coupons, and recommendations can lead to increased business exposure and positive customer experiences.
5. Accepting customer feedback helps customers feel like their opinions matter, and the more they feel heard, the more willing they become to stay at the same location again in the future. Use complaints as opportunities for improvement.
Over the course of his real estate investment career, Dr. Bharat Lall has purchased and sold more than 70 hotels. Bharat Lall, MD, closely follows hotel valuation trends and market changes in his role as founder and president of California-based Pinnacle Hotels.
The hospitality industry typically uses one of three approaches to determine the market value of a hotel. The most common, the income capitalization approach, operates on the underlying assumption that a hotel’s value stems from its ability to produce revenue. Appraisers who use this method may employ either the direct capitalization method, which looks at a property’s current income, or the discounted cash flow method, which analyzes income over a specified time frame. Because the hospitality industry can change dramatically from year to year, many experts strongly prefer discounted cash flow when estimating future value.
Appraisers may also determine the value of a property using the direct comparison approach, which looks at multiple hotels’ comparative values using a single data point. For example, an appraiser may use price per room to rank properties by sale value. This method tends to work best as a secondary technique, as hotels can differ widely in the features that contribute to value. Alternatively, the cost approach uses land and property values to estimate the capital value of a location. Because this total can change with altering depreciation, this method is more commonly used in determining value for insurance purposes rather than for investors, buyers, or sellers.
A former practicing physician, Bharat Lall, MD, transitioned from a life in medicine to a career in the hospitality sector more than two decades ago. Dr. Bharat Lall now heads Pinnacle Hotels USA as chief executive officer, managing nearly 10 premier hotels in California, Texas, and Ohio.
Technology innovation has significantly changed how hotels manage their business, guests, and services. From launching websites that allow guests to search for rooms online to using apps to take reservations and share special packages, hotel owners continue to turn increasingly to technology to promote their businesses. Net Affinity, a full-service marketing firm specializing in the hotel sector, recently shared its top technology trends for hotels in 2015. These include the following:
1. Hotels will employ a more personalized web experience. Analyzing data about customer search and purchase behaviors, hotels will craft a platform that anticipates what a guest may be interested in and generate applicable content for easy and customized viewing.
2. Mobile payment options will rise. Following in the footsteps of the online retail industry, where alternative methods of payment through services like PayPal account for one in four transactions, the hotel sector will move toward more mainstream mobile payment options in an effort to increase revenue by offering guests improved convenience.
3. Proximity technology will be leveraged to send rich media messages to potential customers in specific locations. With 91 percent of the smartphone user population always in arm’s reach of their phones, hotels looking for growth should consider identifying locations for such marketing activities.
A graduate of the University of Glasgow, Bharat Lall earned his MD and then spent many years as a practicing physician. Later, Dr. Bharat Lall turned to business and founded a hospitality corporation in San Diego known as Pinnacle Hotels USA. Alongside his career, he donates through Kiva.
As a nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities for underserved members of communities across the globe, Kiva works with microfinance institutions to supply loans to those without access to regular banking systems. The organization relies on funds from donors, and 100 percent of these funds go to the borrowers, who can use the money to launch their own businesses and then pay back the loans.
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa, however, has affected several partners. Many lenders have responded generously, asking if they can simply forgive the loans. Kiva’s response has included a decision to extend a four-month grace period across the region. The organization believes in allowing borrowers to pay back their loans if possible.
For more information about Kiva and its efforts, visit http://www.kiva.org. The organization’s blog, which can be accessed through the main site, includes further details, as well as links to organizations countering the Ebola outbreak.
Bharat Lall, MD, has led as president and CEO of Pinnacle Hotels since he founded the company in 1998. In 2011, Dr. Bharat Lall purchased the former Holiday Inn in San Diego and transformed it into the new Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown.
Located on 1st Avenue, the Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown offers a variety of in-room and community features. All guests of the hotel receive access to an outdoor heated pool and a 24-hour fitness center. Front-desk service is available all hours, as is complimentary coffee and Internet access. Those traveling for work may also wish to avail themselves of the hotel’s business center, which includes ample space for both large and small meetings.
Guests of the hotel may use its complimentary shuttle to and from the airport. Valet parking is also available for a fee and includes unlimited enter and exit privileges. When on site, guests may visit the hotel’s C3 Restaurant and Bar, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The hotel additionally features a unique Best Brews program with craft and seasonal beers on tap.
Bharat Lall, MD, owns and manages a number of Marriott hotels as president and CEO of Pinnacle Hotels. Under Dr. Bharat Lall’s leadership, Pinnacle Hotels has become one of the few organizations nationwide to secure approval as a manager of Marriott properties.
As an established hotel brand, Marriott stands out as a high-potential choice for real estate investors. Its large portfolio of brands, currently the industry’s most diverse, offers both owners and franchisees a choice of service level and property type. Marriott includes luxury brands such as The Ritz-Carlton as well as lifestyle, destination, select service, and extended stay hotels in addition to its signature line of Marriott Hotels.
Marriott owners and franchisees enjoy corporate support in establishing and managing the individual property. Each investor works with an individual account manager from Marriott’s corporate headquarters who provides owners with multiple ways of contacting the company. This allows both new and established owners to offer guests Marriott’s high level of service and unique branding experiences. Meanwhile, owners receive support for their continuing success and for the intended long-term health of the hotel itself.
Bharat Lall, MD, serves as president and CEO of Pinnacle Hotels USA. Headquartered in San Diego, Pinnacle Hotels oversees nine hotels, spanning 1,500 rooms, and 554 staff members. Across all locations, Dr. Bharat Lall and his staff seek to deliver unparalleled service to all clients.
Identifying customers enables hotel chains to orient their marketing to that type of customer, just as any other business must market to a demographic likely to buy its products. To determine a customer type, consider the means by which the customer would be most likely to learn about the hotel. Traveling businesspeople are liable to use travel agents or, more probably, websites to book accommodations. In such a scenario, hotels should update their website regularly and make sure travel agents are aware of their accommodations and services.
The best hotels match their services to the needs of their customer type. For instance, most hotels in Las Vegas maintain an in-house casino. Such services create another income channel for the hotel and foster customer loyalty. To engender even deeper loyalty, hotels may consider offering discounts as a means of encouraging repeat business.