The Latino share of the U.S. population is about 18 percent, but Latinos accounted for about half of all U.S. population growth from 2010 to 2019. Yet, the percentage of hotels owned by Latinos in the United States is far from where it could be. According to Lynette Montoya, President & CEO of the Latino Hotel Assn., there are currently about 500 to 600 hotels in the United States that are Latino owned.
Montoya told me she has led the association since 2015, previously working as a hotel broker. “Our job is to provide knowledge of opportunity of owning and/or developing a hotel. Often people see a branded hotel such as Hilton, Choice, Marriott, Wyndham etc., and think they are owned by those brands when in fact most of these hotels are owned by individuals, LLC’s, partnerships, etc.,” she says.
“I would say the lack of understanding is not about building or running a hotel, it’s primarily a lack of understanding that they don’t realize that they can develop a hotel and would likely need a management company initially to gain the financing but could learn to manage the hotel in the process. Sourcing capital and financing is the learning curve. We could be well on our way but there is a knowledge and education gap. We are working hard to provide all information on hotel ownership and bring to light this opportunity,” she says.
The association is working to encourage youth to pursue hospitality management. It currently offers a hospitality scholarship. “We want to expand that,” she says.
The association currently has the support of Hilton, Wyndham, Choice, Marriott, G6, Hyatt, Red Roof, Radisson, Best Western and just about every major chain in the industry. “We would not be here without the support of the brands,” Montoya says.
Pandemic is Hurting Many
The pandemic has certainly not helped the association’s growth or access to capital. “I know some of our members were getting ready for openings,” Montoya says. “One of our members owns a management company and their services have been utilized heavily to help with dealing with potential closures, loan applications and other services that are especially unique in this pandemic environment.”
When asked about the size of the association, Montoya says it has about 3,600 contacts in its database—primarily hotel developers, owners, operators and vendors.
The Latino Hotel Assn. holds two to three regional events each year. This year the LHA Virtual Conference 2020 will be held on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. Go to www.latinohotels.org for details available on September 15, 2020.
Along with Blacks and American Indians/Alaska natives, Latinos have the highest poverty rates in the United States. Let’s all do what we can to lift up this underrepresented part of our industry who aspire to be owners.
“We believe, as we continue to connect with Hispanics/Latinos throughout the U.S., we will bring knowledge, education, networks and resources to help present owners and potential owners to move toward hotel ownership and those present owners to grow their portfolio,” Montoya says. “The wealth and the generational wealth proposition of hotel ownership is the key to shifting the economic future of Hispanics/Latinos.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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