Sloan Dean joined Remington Hotels in 2018 as chief operating officer and was promoted to CEO and president earlier this year. The industry vet previously held executive posts at Ashford, Interstate Hotels, Alliance Hospitality, and other companies. Dallas-based Remington is a third-party management company that operates about 90 hotels in 26 states across the country.
How are you coping amid the COVID-19 crisis?
It’s all about progress, not perfection. We have a daily executive staff meeting via Zoom to ensure everyone is staying connected. You and your habits are key, so keeping a daily routine and structure is paramount in these times.
We also host a weekly webcast for all our furloughed associates and another webcast for our working associates. We find transparency and frequent communication is critical in maintaining rapport and culture—social distancing, not emotional distancing.
Did your business continuity plan work, or were there surprises?
We’ve been ahead of our competition with the crisis—everyone has under assumed how bad the situation would become, whereas we were swift to move to worse case scenarios—but no one expected the level of business loss being experienced by hotels today. Hotel revenues were down 90 percent year–over–year for April; no one predicted that level of impact.
Cash management and working through the current liquidity crisis will be paramount for all hotels in the second quarter. We hope to see hotel occupancies start to recover and carry through the summer.
What are the short-term ramifications for your specific industry?
Approximately 94 percent of our workforce is furloughed, and 10 percent of our hotels had a temporary suspension of services. Rather than discussing positive GOPs, we are constantly talking about mitigating negative GOPs. Survival is the name of the game for Q2 2020.
Have you found silver linings in these difficult times?
“He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.” We are finding that the will and strength of our people has never been greater. Some of the leadership stories of our associates in these hard times bring tears to my eyes.
Also, we’ve seen the current crisis has brought our hotels closer to their local communities, where we are housing first responders, nurses, and the homeless. In these times, we have to rely on each other. It’s great to see the spirit of hospitality come to the forefront in these challenging times. Remington Hotels is “The Place Where Passionate People Thrive,” and we are living that more today than ever before.
How are you maintaining your company culture?
We are holding weekly webcasts for working and furloughed associates to stay in communication. It’s amazing how much culture you can retain with daily check-ins even when people are working from home. The ”How are you doing today?” and “How can I help you?” goes a long way.
What have you learned that may change your policies or strategies for the future?
Our cleanliness standards will forever be elevated in our hotels. We have rigid hourly cleaning procedures that I see staying in place for all of 2020 and 2021.
We were first adopters of mobile key and skip the front desk initiatives with our partner OpenKey. I think these type of technology adoptions will become paramount in a post-COVID-19 world.
What will things look like for your company and industry in another six months?
Revenue will still be down 50 percent year over year, and 10 percent of U.S. hotels will not be operating. Unemployment in hotels will be the double digits—it already is. It will take the U.S. hotel industry three to four years to recover.
Do you have advice for other local business leaders?
One in 25 jobs in the U.S. depends on hotels. Travel is vital to the American fabric. Please get back to traveling as soon as you possibly can; we are counting on you.