“More than just management” was the founding vision behind “HP Hotels (HP)” an award-winning 3rd party Hotel Management company, which ranks in the Top 50 largest Hotel Management Companies in the U.S. It has earned over 100 industry awards, including Hilton’s Worldwide HGI Hotel of the year. HP has been delivering results for the hotel owners through a proven, balanced scorecard approach to hospitality management. HP’s performance-based culture has created an atmosphere where talented people are provided with the tools, processes, and guidance to deliver excellence in hotel operations, profitability, revenue management, finance, and guest service.
Founded in 2002 HP’s current portfolio consists of 30 hotels, with 4,253 rooms managed. With offices in Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, and New Orleans, its corporate staff of 15 and 900 employees within these hotels have enabled HP to achieve the preferred hotel management status with name-brand hotel chains.
Nancy Obstler, Area VP Sales and Revenue Management responsible for the overall direction of all sales and revenue strategies for a portfolio of 11 properties in NC, SC, and GA puts forth the driving force behind HP’s strategy. Nancy says, “As a trusted partner, we are committed to providing extraordinary experiences for our guests, exceptional benefits for our teams and superior returns for our owners.”
Path to Glory: Challenging Yourself
Nancy started her hospitality career in the culinary side of the business while attending a culinary school in Baltimore, but she quickly learned that “I enjoyed managing teams and connecting with guests out front more than being behind the lines,” says Nancy. “I went from being a pastry chef to managing a hotel outlet and then rose through the ranks from there at multiple locations and eventually took a role as Food & Beverage Director.” She has always believed in exploring new things, challenging herself, and being the best whether it was in delivering top-notch service or meeting profit goals. This passion to succeed day in and day out, drove her to move to the Carolinas from South Florida and switch over into hotel sales where she stayed for about 14 years before becoming a Hotel General Manager. It was in February 2020 and after working at the property level for 20 years she joined HP here her role has evolved into supporting and directing the sales and revenue teams, providing them with everything they might need to be more successful and productive, with the end goal in mind of meeting and or exceeding goals set for them.
“There are so many awesome opportunities available to someone who is thinking of starting a career in hospitality and no day is ever the same in our business! My advice to someone new in the industry now would be to be as flexible as possible. I have seen through the years, that the more flexible the team member is to change, taking on new responsibilities, dealing with both co-workers and guests, the more successful they are.”
Rethinking & Reevaluating Business:
The Hospitality industry has changed forever, as Nancy shares her thoughts, “The biggest challenge we face in the hospitality and service industry (pre-Covid and now) is the hiring and retention of staff. Pay scales in our industry for some hourly operational positions make it difficult to keep employees over time. The challenge of employee retention then spills over into the level of guest service you can provide. The hospitality industry as a whole has seen high turnover rates. At HP, we have had to take a personalized approach to employee onboarding, training, and retention to keep our turnover numbers low, and retention numbers high.” Nancy believes that the hotel stay must be an experience, and the industry must rediscover that. Guests not only expect a clean, secure, inviting room but also a hotel environment their stay must be personable and memorable. Here HP’s motto “Experience matters” becomes even more befitting as it is built from people that worked in hotels, “We are ever-changing to ensure our people ensure a great guest experience; one that is memorable.”
One of the key advantages of being in an above property role was the optimal utilization of technology. She says, “HP being primarily remote-based, the need for technology in all aspects of our business is stronger than ever before. HP has spent time researching the best IT companies and platforms to better analyze our properties to help the teams operate more effectively and efficiently.” HP currently uses best market reporting along with operational property software to help better serve the guests and the teams.
Role Models & Influencers
There existed a proverbial glass ceiling when Nancy started, but in the last 10 years or so it has been breached to a certain extent with more and more women in a position of power the attitude and sensibilities have changed to a large extent. Nancy shares, “For myself and what I have seen from many of my fellow women colleagues in the industry is that we tend to be more empathetic to the associate’s needs and extend more flexible options for team members with scheduling and also more sensitive to their overall work environment as well. Not to say that all women manage that way or that men are not empathetic, but out of the women I have seen as successful leaders within my past company, those specific traits seemed to guide their management styles and help them to better relate to and support team members and at the same time be more understanding of guests needs.” A person’s character and traits depend a lot on the people they look up to, as for Nancy it started with her parents. Their work ethics and focus on education provided a strong foundation which was later reinforced upon by her later role models her bosses who used to and still teach her. She shares, “How to be the best leader and Business operator I could be.”
Being a leader is not only business for Nancy she has a very strong commitment to helping others, especially children. “I think children who go hungry or don’t have a safe and comfortable place to call home bothers me the most,” says Nancy.“ Before the pandemic, I made sure that my team and I donated, as much as we could, our time and food that would have gone to waste to a few of the local charities serving families in need in the Charlotte area. We even had a regular route of homes to which we delivered Meals on Wheels. We set a standard to volunteer, at a minimum, twice a month.”
Speaking from Experience: Snippets & Lessons
The world of hospitality is full of incredible stories; being in contact with the general public on a daily basis brings about all kinds of situations, from awkward to funny to downright bad. But every day is different, which opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for anyone who want to make it a career choice. Nancy shares, “There are so many awesome opportunities available to someone who is thinking of starting a career in hospitality and no day is ever the same in our business! My advice to someone new in the industry now would be to be as flexible as possible. I have seen through the years, that the more flexible the team member is to change, taking on new responsibilities, dealing with both co-workers and guests, the more successful they are.” A piece of advice she would give her younger self and is equally note-worthy today is, “Don’t ever jump to quick decisions; always take the time to look at the issue from all angles
After the pandemic, there is a lot of focus and attention that must be put into rebuilding the business pipeline. The sales teams are now focused on getting back out, to past clients and, also, uncovering new businesses in their markets that may have gotten off the ground during Covid. Nancy knows that travel habits have and will be forever changed due to the pandemic but right now she wants to work market by market to define what the “new normal” should be at each property and get that business through those doors for our owners.
Although post-pandemic there is a lot of work Nancy makes time for her other passions. She says, “I love cooking and the outdoors, so I enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing when I have time and weather permits and I cook a lot at home, now teaching my daughter when I can.”