The Lodging Leaders Podcast: Powerful Business Strategies for Hotel Professionals


Lodging Leaders brings together the best and brightest minds of the hotel industry to share their stories, insights and actionable advice. Each week, founder and entrepreneur Jon Albano interviews inspiring hoteliers and leading industry professionals that have produced amazing results to help you maximize profits, scale your portfolio, protect your investment, and so much more. Let the collective intelligence of the hotel industry lead you to better results.

The Lodging Leaders Podcast: Powerful Business Strategies for Hotel Professionals navigateright Episode

002 | Using Technology for a Better Tomorrow with RP Rama

Raman "RP" Rama is the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer/Chief Information Officer of JHM Hotels. Born in Malawi, Africa, RP obtained his education from a few different places. While he was waiting for his U.S. Visa, he taught economics and business administration to students who are still in touch with him. Once he obtained his visa in 1981, he came to the U.S. and began working with his brothers (JP, HP, MP and DP Rama) at the family-owned business, JHM Hotels. From July until November of 1981, RP learned the hotel business from the ground up. He started out painting doors, cleaning parking lots, doing laundry and housekeeping. He moved on to engineering work, check-ins and check-outs, and expanded into payroll and money management.  That November, JHM Hotels acquired 2 more hotels in Hattiesburg and Jackson (Mississippi), and RP began managing the 123 room Hattiesburg property. As the company acquired more properties in MS, RP's role expanded to Regional Manager over 4 properties. In 1988, RP was asked to go to their hotel in San Bernardino, California, to "clean house." They had purchased the property a few years before, and they realized some changes needed to be made, including hiring a new manager for the hotel. In June, 1989, RP returned to the corporate offices in Greenville, South Carolina, and began working in the accounting department.  RP realized he had to scout for new technology, so he joined HFTP (Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals) and attended their HITEC conference in Baltimore in 1991. Present day... RP is one of the principal owners, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Information Officer for JHM Hotels. He admits that there is a great deal of information coming in. What he places his best efforts in, is consolidating all that information and creating meaningful reports and insights to the operations of the business. This has enhanced productivity levels and efficiency in the decision making process. Additionally, it ensures accuracy for the time when the information is most needed so adequate action can be taken. What is one tip you could give any hotelier to increase their ADR, RevPAR or Occupancy? RP advises to look at social media. What are customers talking about? Are they talking about your property in a positive or negative way? Be sure to tend to the negatives. Then go to your metrics and compare yourself with your competitors. Make sure you’ve chosen the right competitive set that is representative of your competition so that you may fill in the gaps. Also, what’s happening in the marketplace? What events are coming up and do you know about them in advance to forecast how to fill up certain dates, thereby increasing rates in the system? Should you prepare special marketing or packages for that event? Take note that you may have a great ADR but your occupancy may be down. It’s about looking at data to make a change - not about what already happened and then making sense of it. Create a forecast for about 3-6 months out. As you monitor this forecast, look at your “pickup rate.” Maybe your rate is too high and you need to bring it down until the pace picks up. It must be balanced. Remember that our past dictates the future, so take a step back and look at what happened in the past. A defining moment in RP's career: This was when RP was acquiring the Marriott in Greenville, South Carolina. There was an account that wanted high speed internet access because the staff of the company was on corporate retreat at RP’s hotel for an entire week. RP found himself in a catch 22 situation. In the end, RP was able to configure the appropriate technology that would work. RP recalled another “aha” moment back in 1983 when almost his entire staff walked out on him. He remedied the situation by calling his friends who he turned into permanent staff. Do you think that leaders are born or made? RP believes it is a combination of both.