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Hertelier Exclusive: Q & A with 2023 She Has a Deal Winners of $50,000 in Equity

Last week the fifth She Has a Deal (SHaD) annual hotel investment pitch competition took place at the new Marriott Headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, where finalists in the Early Careerist and the Today’s Woman, competed for $50,000 in deal equity for each category.


After a competitive challenge and presentation, the winners were Portia Hood, who proposed a 70-room Hampton Inn & Suites in Austin/Lakeway, TX, for the Today’s Woman Category, and Early Careerist Chandler Williamson, who proposed a 177-room Hilton Garden Inn in Raleigh-Durham, NC.


She Has a Deal Winners
Chandler Williamson, Tracy Prigmore and Portia Hood

She Has a Deal (SHaD): From Education to Competition


The goal of She Has a Deal is to create new pathways to hotel ownership and development for women through education, networking, and mentorship. The pitch competition and awards are the culmination of a multi-module educational program that walks participants through the process of sourcing, evaluating, financing, and pitching a hotel investment deal. It's not just a deal on paper: the pitching teams find, evaluate and propose real hotel deals! This year there were 19 participants in total including a woman from Italy in the Today’s Woman program and Early Careerists from eight different universities. There were eight final teams or individuals in each category and the competition was tight.


“Each year, it is amazing to witness the growth the women achieve from the first SHaD MasterClass to the day they hit the stage at SHaDPitch. What is especially significant about the platform is that women like Portia Hood, who has spent her entire career of 20 years working in the hotel industry, now has the opportunity to leverage her knowledge, experience, and competencies to excel in the investment side of the business.” said Tracy Prigmore, founder, She Has a Deal.


Meet the Winners and Learn What it Takes to Do SHaD

Portia Hood during her award-winning presentation for SHaD
Portia Hood during her award-winning presentation for SHaD

Today’s Woman: Portia Hood


Born in Alabama, Portia graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Howard University and Mercer University's MBA program. Her first job in hospitality was Concierge at JW Marriott while at Howard, which she says, “was the best job!” She then graduated from college and moved into sales and has been a Director of Sales and Marketing for seven years. Portia is married with three children, two of which are 11-month-old twins! We had a quick chat with Portia about the SHaD experience.


Why did you do the SHaD comp?


I joined the SHaD Competition because I wanted to elevate my experience and create a new pathway for my future. I became interested in hotel ownership a few years ago. I have investments in other hotels, and I knew that I could become a sponsor myself. But, I needed help with the investment side of things. SHaD was the perfect vehicle. In addition to the education, you are networking with other women hotel owners and even women who invest in other real estate categories.


Was the time commitment what you expected?


The coursework starts in early Fall and the competition is at the end of April. Honestly, my concept of time is warped. I started the course late because I recently gave birth to twins. They were 4 months when I started, and they are now 11 months. I was working on fumes. Tracy, SHaD's founder, made the coursework very easy to understand. The Masterclasses were recorded so I spent late nights and weekends getting caught up.


Why do you think your deal won?

All the women had great deals. We actually didn't get to see the other pitches. I think my deal won because my return metrics were realistic, and I provided specific details about my demand generators. I heavily focused on my financial model to get every aspect of the pro forma correct. I used the reports from CBRE, Co-Star, and STR to analyze expenses and the market. I then applied my knowledge of the Profit and Loss statements to determine if my predicted margins were practical for the size of the hotel and brand.


What was the most meaningful part of the competition for you?

The most meaningful part of the competition was the support all the ladies have for each other. We cheered for everyone! While we know that it has to be one winner, we are invested in everyone's success during and after the competition.


What was the most surprising part of the competition?

The most surprising part of the competition was the amount of support from the sponsors and brand representatives. These are men and women who are C-Suite stakeholders in the hospitality industry. In order to increase the number of women hotel owners in the U.S. and internationally we definitely need them on board.


What advice would you give other women thinking about doing SHaD?

The advice I would give other women thinking about doing SHaD is ... Just do it! Everyone walks away a winner because what you learn and the networking is invaluable.

Chandler Williamson She Has a Deal
Chandler Williamson making her winning pitch for SHaD

Early Careerist: Chandler Williamson


Currently studying for her MBA at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), Chandler is focusing on real estate. Before starting her MBA, she worked at multiple hotels doing front desk, learning about housekeeping, food and beverage, sales and marketing, and revenue management, all while pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at NCCU. She then had a turning point in her life and decided that “she deserved more” and in her last term became a full-time student to focus on her personal goals, including obtaining her Real Estate license. Currently, Chandler is supporting Elise Capital with the asset management of hotels. Chandler says, “I love to laugh, learn, help others, be authentically me, and as joyous as possible.”


Why did you do SHaD?


I decided to do the SHaD competition because I was exposed to ownership and development within the hospitality industry during a NADHOOD conference. After the conference, I knew that was the space for me, and I happened to meet Tracy. She explained that SHaD was a great stepping stone into the career path I was looking for, so it was a no-brainer that I needed to join the program.


Was the time commitment what you expected?


The time commitment was in line with what I expected. The program is self-paced for the most part until the pitch was ramped up.


Why do you think your deal won?


I think my deal won because it is in line with what investors are looking for based on the challenges the real estate industry is facing today. My deal was a very safe and smart investment with little risk in its add-valued nature. Realistically, it mirrored where interest rates and expenses are today. It was in a great location and had conservative underwriting that still allowed the deal to shine based on the return on investment.


What was the most meaningful part of the competition for you?


The most meaningful part of the competition was my personal growth. Everyone is able to see my success in the end, but it came with many challenges that grew my work ethic, time management, self-talk, and confidence. It absolutely grew my faith which I didn't know would be a part of the journey and I am really grateful it did knowing that has been a priority of mine. God is good!


What was the most surprising part of the competition?


The most surprising part outside of winning and all the support I had was feeling at ease after arriving at the venue. There was a lot of anticipation and nerves leading up, but each participant was so welcoming, and relatable, and the venue was very comfortable to be in. I was not expecting to feel so much relief being closer to hitting the stage than ever.


What advice would you give other women thinking about doing SHaD?


For other women who are thinking about doing SHaD, I'd say pray about it and then do it wholeheartedly if you decide to compete. Know yourself well enough to address the stress in a way that works best for you and never stop asking questions! Also, practice, practice, practice. This will change your life in ways you can't imagine.


Congrats to Portia and Chandler! What an incredible journey you have been on, and it is amazing to hear about what the competition meant to each of you. We hope your hotel deals close!


Catching up with founder Tracy Prigmore on final thoughts, she added, “She Has a Deal is an ecosystem that becomes stronger each year as more industry leaders and organizations join the movement by financially supporting the growth of the She Has a Deal educational platform that creates new pathways to hotel ownership and development for women. We are forever grateful for our Founding Sponsors Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt as well as every sponsorship partner that through their generosity, make it possible for SHaD to lead this movement that is increasing the number of women owning and developing hotels.”


For more information or to sign up for next year’s SHaD competition, click here.


She Has a Deal 2023 Sponsors
She Has a Deal is grateful for the event sponsors!




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