We all know that building a strong balance sheet is the smart move towards future well-being, but how to accomplish that is less clear, especially since women are typically presented with only a “save more” approach. Thanks to changes in banking policies and cultural shifts around women’s roles in economic development, it’s time for us to think bigger and consider building our balance sheets with larger investments.
Hotels offer an interesting opportunity because they can make money in two ways: income from operations and asset appreciation over time. They’re also large enough ventures to employ management for day-to-day operations, allowing us to control our own time. For those excited by the experiences of travel and entertainment, hotels are a particularly enticing investment.
If you’ve been wondering about diversifying your assets, leveraging your time and money, hotels are an asset class to consider. Women in retail bring unique strengths to this opportunity. Skills in customer relations, marketing, store development, accounting and legal, multi-unit management and people management are directly transferrable. However, there are two immediate hurdles to consider and overcome as you start on your path to ownership.
Clearing the First Hurdle to Hotel Ownership
The first hurdle is learning that the opportunity exists and what it might offer to your world. If you’re reading this, you’re well on the way to clearing the first hurdle.
Of all the reasons to become a hotel owner, the one that really motivated me was time. My consulting job paid well, but making more money meant spending more hours working. My investments in rental houses made money, but each house took time to manage. Becoming a hotel owner leveraged my equity into a significantly larger business, while my general managers freed my time.
Although hotel ownership gives women the advantages of controlling their investments and their time, few of us own hotels. Broadly, many women haven’t owned large assets, like hotels, that use significant debt. In part, this is because until 1988, banks could require women to have a male relative co-sign in order to borrow money. That’s only one generation ago.
Culturally, women using debt and acquiring larger assets is relatively new. Women-owned businesses average only 1.4 employees — meaning most of our businesses demand an inordinate amount of our time. Perhaps we fear employees as lifelong commitments when we should be bringing on mutually beneficial team members. This is the time when women are rapidly overcoming both these cultural limits.
Taking advantage of the hotel opportunity requires drive, some financial assets (e.g., a house, rental property, savings, 401K, etc.) and a core skill on which to bolt additional knowledge. Your core skill might be experience in the hotel business, but it might also be experience in retail, real estate, banking, managing people, marketing, or a related field. Then, with the right information and community, you have the opportunity to not just stay in hotels, but to own them.
Navigating the Second Hurdle to Owning Your Hotel
The second hurdle is finding information and mentors to guide you along the ownership path. Our nonprofit built Fortuna’s Table for that purpose, with content about each step to ownership, spreadsheet templates, webinars and other curated information.
We crowdsource mentorship using “Tables” to connect prospective owners to guides and experts, allowing you to make connections with the right people at the right time. Tables are Zoom meetings where four to eight people learn from an expert and get their questions answered.
- Intro Tables are open to the public and are a place to engage in conversation with a hotel owner, learning about their investment experiences and getting an overview of what to expect along the path to ownership.
- Expert Tables are hosted by specialists who share information and answer specific questions for Fortuna’s Table subscribers. The complete ecosystem of specialists who support hotel owners host tables. These include lenders, appraisers, contractors, franchisors, designers, management companies, attorneys and others needed to carry a hotel project forward. Becoming a hotel owner isn’t something you do in a vacuum; these are substantial projects that leverage your core skills with a roster of experts. Tables are the link to expertise and understanding how to work with each specialty.
- Guide Tables place you with an experienced hotel owner and peer mentors to keep you engaged and your project moving forward.
Fortuna’s Table is a new way to develop the knowledge and connections you need to succeed as a hotel owner or investor. It’s a community of knowledgeable hotel industry specialists and prospective owners all moving women like you toward hotel ownership. We invite you to join the conversation and discover if hotel ownership is the right path to a bigger balance sheet for your future.