Asset Management

Q&A: Operating in uncertain times with Michels & Taylor

Michels & Taylor is an asset management, consultancy and hotel management company, specialising in both branded and independent hotels. Its subsidiary M&T Hotel Management manages hotels across a number of brands including Hilton, Marriott, IHG and Best Western, as well as a variety of independent hotels.

Ahead of the AHC we caught up with CEO Hugh Taylor and Peter Hales, managing director of managed hotels to discuss the current macroeconomic environment, balancing stakeholder relationships and looking after staff.

How have you kept operating effectively, considering the issues around inflation, energy prices and staffing?

Peter Hales: The first focus has to be on people, engaging, developing and nurturing the team. Without them, any process and procedure of control however clever, can fail at the first opportunity. Sharing with the team the need for change, the importance of what we are facing, involving them in finding the solutions and recognising their successes is key. Couple this with expertise, great communication and a systematic approach and it makes a material difference to outcomes.

How have the relations between operators, owners and management companies changed after the pandemic? 

Hugh Taylor: They continue to be strong. We have always enjoyed very close relationships with our clients over the years and actually in our experience relationships tend to strengthen further through crises. Like all hotel owners, our clients are justifiably demanding of great service and support and we have had to really focus on the new issues hitting the P&Ls to ensure that level of service remains as high as ever.

As the industry continues to face a labour crisis, how are M&T managing this?

PH: Understand the employment challenge in each hotel, as they are materially different from area to area requiring different solutions and focus. Retention of the team we have is the first focus, this is through creating a positive environment, training and development opportunities, appreciation of what the team are achieving and strong leadership.

How do you balance the pressure of driving profitability with environmental concerns and the impact of travel on climate change?

PH: M&T work to the agenda of the owners and investors that we work with, this means that we have different approaches to ESG by hotel. The recent increase in utilities has meant that the ROI for projects has shortened enabling projects to go ahead that had previously been rejected.

How is changing customer demand impact your business strategy?

PH: It is not just the changes in demand that is creating challenges, especially given the short lead times. It is also how increased costs are impacting the viability of the revenue being generated. It is a fine balancing act between increasing selling prices without turning off demand.

What was the biggest lesson learned in the past two years?

HT: Never take anything for granted. Even if history and all 30 years of your own career experience tells you that something works in a certain way, it doesn’t mean it will always do so. Who really foresaw Covid, the energy crisis, the post Brexit environment, payroll issues and so on? All these are exceptional circumstances no one could have predicted and so the lesson for me is always be prepared and never take anything for granted.

What project in your pipeline are you most excited about?

HT: We have a number of exciting opportunities we are working on at the moment. I won’t share any more than that, but we certainly remain very excited about the future of M&T.

Hear Hugh Taylor live at the AHC in the panel discussion Succeeding When Nothing is Normal

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