Fortunes have been built in the hotel business, from the Hilton, Marriott, and Pritzker (Hyatt) families, and yes, Donald Trump, to countless others you may not know by name. Until now, the path to hotel ownership for women was quite daunting, as even up to 1988 in many places women needed a man to co-sign on a loan. Today women still only make up a minority of hospitality leadership and few are hotel owners. But that’s all changing thanks to three new programs on a mission to help women start building wealth through investing in hotels: Fortuna’s Table, Women Own the Room by Wyndham, and Future Hotel Owner by The Vonne Group.
Fortuna’s Table is a new non-profit established jointly by Castell Project, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the careers of women professionals in the hospitality industry, and She Has A Deal (SHaD), a real estate investment platform that creates pathways to hotel ownership and development for women. Fortuna’s Table is a great first step if you want to explore the idea of hotel ownership, the site offers introductory classes, resources, and a community of experts. Worth checking out is the site’s knowledge hub which explains the three pillars of hotel ownership: the investment, the money, and the hotel itself, breaking down each step of the process.
To access all the resources of Fortuna’s Table requires a subscription which starts at $49 a month, but you can attend a free intro “table” with experts before committing, the next one is by Castell founder, Peggy Berg on September 21st at 2:00 pm ET. Fortuna’s Table is a comprehensive initiative inspired by tech incubators that help seed start-ups, “The investment side of the business needs to be more diverse and inclusive,” said Tracy Prigmore of TLTsolutions and She Has a Deal founder. “For women to participate fully in leadership, more women need to have access to ownership.” She Has a Deal (SHaD) also offers online courses, an annual pitch competition and a women-led investment fund. For more on Fortuna's Table, click here.
Women Own the Room (WOTR)
The first-ever program by a major hotel company specifically targeting women, Women Own the Room (WOTR) was announced last month by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company with approximately 9,000 hotels across nearly 95 countries. Similar to Fortuna’s Table, the goals of WOTR are: delivering comprehensive financial solutions, offering personalized operational guidance and support, establishing an inclusive community for networking and education.
Wyndham is planning a series of introductory talks to commence later this Fall:
Why the time is right for women to get into hotel development
How to select sites and perform feasibility assessments
Guidance and tips on securing financing for your hotel
Personal stories of female hotel developers that successfully broke the mold
The program is so new, there’s no website for WOTR yet, but you can sign up for more information here.
Future Hotel Owner
Future Hotel Owner Course by The Vonne Group, Davonne Reaves is a hospitality industry expert who worked her way up from front desk clerk at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta to become a hotel owner at the tender age of 33. As she said in a recent interview with hertelier, “At first I thought being a GM was my goal until I realized the GM’s boss was the OWNER.” At the time, she was the youngest Black woman to own a hotel from a major chain when the real estate fund, Epiq Collective, which she started with her college roommate, purchased the Home2 Suites by Hilton El Reno, Oklahoma, for $8.3 million.
Before setting up her own company, The Vonne Group, in 2017 she was a hotel asset manager overseeing a $1 billion portfolio for real estate company CHMWarnick. Davonne has dedicated the last five years of her career to helping other women and minorities become hotel owners and investors, by teaching the fundamentals of hotel investment in a three-month program, “Roadmap to Hotel Ownership,” which meets online weekly. This year, Davonne has the goal of bringing 221 new hotel investors into the market, either through ownership, REITs or crowdfunding and when we last spoke she was well on her way. To learn more about Davonne's, courses and community, click here.