5 biggest lessons I've learned in my 5-years of owning and operating Wanderstay Hospitality Group
Wanderstay Hospitality Group is a multi-concept hospitality brand, based in Houston, Texas. When I opened our first location, Wanderstay Houston Hostel summer 2018, I was a first-time entrepreneur. Not only was I a first-time business owner, but I had never worked in a hostel or hotel in my life. At that stage in my life, I had traveled to over 35 countries on all 7 continents and I knew, as a frequent traveler, what guests needed and wanted in their accommodations from firsthand experiences.
Fast forward five years and not only have we made history as the only Black owned and operated hostel in the USA, but we've also won numerous awards , been featured in several newspapers and magazines and we survived a global pandemic. We've also recently grown with the opening of our second location, Wanderstay Boutique Hotel which is also located in Houston, TX.
These are the 5 biggest lessons I've learned in my 5-year journey owning and operating Wanderstay Hospitality Group.
#1 Things take time
Especially running a small hostel and hotel. When I opened, I foolishly assumed both locations would skyrocket as soon as we opened our doors, but most things take time. It took nearly a year to reach consistent high occupancy. Patience is truly a virtue, don't set unrealistic goals.
#2 Ask for help
Asking for help is a requirement, not an option. Your body is a machine that requires rest and relaxation. Asking for help can look like: hiring interns, hiring staff, or asking for volunteers. Whatever you do, understand that you can not run your business alone, it should always be a group effort.
#3 Become a pro at saving money
The worst thing that could happen to you as a hotelier is running out of cash flow. I cannot stress how important it is to become a pro at saving money. I recommend having a 3–4-month contingency account that you add to year after year. Example- after your first year of business, have an account with 4-months' worth of expenses saved. After your second year of business, you save another 4 months totaling 8 months of contingency. If you practice this year after year, you'll be prepared to face challenges when they come.
#4 Play as hard as you work
You need to have fun. Hang out with friends, take vacations, read a book or watch trash TV. You deserve it. There's no sense in starting your business if you can't enjoy the fruits of your labor. Having fun can actually help you run your business even better.
#5 Things will get hard
There are some days you will absolutely want to quit your business. It's normal, and every business owner has thought about quitting at one time or another, but it is important that you stay the course. Create an exit strategy for your company when you initially open, and run your business every day to prepare you for whatever exit you choose. Know that things will get hard, but if running a business was easy and smooth, everyone would do it.