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Seizing Opportunities: Katy Reynolds, Senior Vice President, JLL Hotels & Hospitality

The youngest of five children, Katy Reynolds grew up in a small California town near Joshua Tree. Her ambition to succeed led her to start working at 14, saving enough to put herself through college at Cal State San Bernardino. Fate led her to the development area of the hospitality industry, as she happened to join the Camberley Hotel Company in Atlanta as her first job out of college. She fell in love with hospitality's ever-changing nature and embraced opportunities that came her way. Rising through the ranks, Katy learned the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships. Now a Senior Vice President at JLL Hotels & Hospitality, Katy specializes in select service transactions. Her success lies in her adaptability, leadership, and client relations skills.

Katy Reynolds SVP JLL Hotels & Hospitality

We chat with Katy, to hear more of herstory, learn how she nurtured her career and leadership skills, and why she is so optimistic for women going into the real estate sector of hospitality.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Los Angeles, California, the last of five kids, and at the age of six we moved to Yucca Valley (near Joshua Tree). My parents had a desire to raise their children in a small town environment, very small town.

What was your first job?

I interviewed and was hired for my first job, Del Taco, at the age of 14 so I could start working the day I turned 15. I was always highly motivated and couldn’t wait to start working. Given our humble means, I was determined to work hard and put myself through college. My first job out of college was with the Camberley Hotel Company, a small boutique hotel owner/operator in Atlanta, Georgia.

What drew you to hospitality?

I did not have a background in hospitality. I was hired as an assistant to the Vice President of Development and Acquisitions at Camberley and quickly came to love the industry. I was able to travel to a number of our properties to complete a variety of work from transitioning employees upon acquisition to developing new marketing material. I enjoy that the day to day is never the same in the hospitality industry. It’s a unique asset type that is always changing and seeing new and evolving brands entering the market.

How did you end up at Cal State San Bernadino and did you study hospitality or business?

Cal State San Bernardino offered an accredited business school and while I wasn’t quite sure what area of business I wanted to direct my focus, I did know that I wanted to go into business in some capacity and ended up focusing on Marketing.

How did you land the job at Camberley Hotel Company? What was your role there?

I interviewed for an administrative assistant position with the Vice President of Development and Acquisitions. I was involved in the acquisition process from market research to property transition. After about a year, I moved into a marketing role.

Then you moved to Hodges Ward Elliot, what were you doing there?

At HWE I worked in an administrative and analyst role. I handled market research, analyzed property operations and developed Offering Memorandums.

How did you get your foot in the door at JLL?

My first boss in the hospitality industry moved to Thompson Calhoun Fair, a small select service brokerage firm that was acquired by JLL in 2003, the owners were hiring for an analyst position and my former boss made the introduction. Knowing people and building and maintaining strong relationships is very important in hospitality.

Knowing people and building and maintaining strong relationships is very important in hospitality.

You have been with JLL for 20 years, what keeps you at the company?

JLL’s platform is always evolving and they are seizing opportunities to grow in an ever changing business environment. JLL offers outstanding opportunities for personal growth within the company. The day-to-day work environment is collaborative and while it’s a large global, publicly traded company with a tremendous amount of available resources, the hospitality group is a tight knit family and works closely together across the different lines of business.

What are your areas of expertise and how did you develop them?

My primary area of expertise is select service transactions, including large portfolios of select service assets. I oversee the analyst and associate team as it relates to underwriting, market research and valuations. I also work with the senior brokerage team on deal strategy and execution. I’m a team player on all fronts to ensure our clients receive the highest and best quality service and that the team feels valued for their contributions.

What other key skills do you feel have been essential for your consistent progress at JLL over the last 20 years?

  • Leadership – Managing a team of analysts and associates. Keeping them engaged and feeling they are a highly valued part of the team at all levels.

  • Time Management – When it feels like there is no way we can get everything done and meet all deadlines and client expectations there is a point you have to reassess and prioritize but also ensure clients receive outstanding service. I’m very much a can-do person and I will exhaust all resources and my own time to ensure deadlines are being met.

  • Client Relations – It’s important for clients to see that we value their business but also value them and their time. Being respectful, responsive and engaged.

Have you faced challenges or setbacks? If so, how did you handle them and what lessons have you learned?

Absolutely. Working for a company for 20 years there is no question you will face many challenges. I have weathered a number of economic downturns, from 9/11, the financial crisis to Covid. There have been unavoidable downsizing and restructuring over these times and I think I weathered those due to my work ethic, complete dedication to the company, our clients and my colleagues and my ability to be flexible and change direction quickly.

What suggestions would you have for women looking to get into the real estate side of the hotel business?

The sky is really the limit for women in this industry. JLL’s Hotels and Hospitality Group has a female Global CEO, Gilda Perez-Alvarado. Having been in the industry for 20 years, early on you did not see many women in the C-suite in the hospitality industry but that has changed considerably. There are women at the table on all fronts of the hospitality industry.

Working in real estate, which has been very male-dominated over the course of your career, how have you handled being the only woman in the room for meetings or events?

By knowing my value and contribution and sitting confidently alongside my male colleagues. Participating and adding value to the conversation.

What advice would you give your 21-year old self?

Find your focus so you can hone your skills in that industry and career early on. Take internships and show tenacity. Do not fear reaching out to industry big shots to show your enthusiasm and ask for a meeting to discuss their thoughts on how best to prepare yourself for the industry and career path. I remember those that reached out to me and it’s impressive. When it comes to hiring, you remember.

Switching gears to industry trends, can you offer three trends you are seeing in your area of the hotel market?

  • Decline in transactions from 2022 – due to economic uncertainty, investors seem to be in a wait and see mode and focus on future investment strategies.

  • Smaller deal size with strong investor interest from regional owner operators.

  • Seller motivation underpinned by loan maturities and deferred capex.

Quickfire with Katy

What is your morning routine?

It varies greatly being a mother, but ideally it would be a good work out (typically hot yoga), ensuring my daughter gets a healthy breakfast and taking her to school before heading to work.

What do you do for self-care?

I try to do hot yoga and strength training at least 4 days a week. I get regular manicures and pedicures. I try to put my phone away in the evening, at least for a period of time, to be present with my loved ones.

How many days do you travel a year?

It varies. I would say once every couple of months for two days, typically to show hotels. Sometimes it’s several times in a month for hotel showings, so it’s hard to quantify.

What is your best travel hack?

Arrive to the airport early and I seem to fail at this far too often. You just don’t know what setbacks you will have at the airport. One time, the conveyor belt at the baggage check in was down causing incredible back up. I have never seen that happen, but you need to be prepared and it will eliminate a lot of stress.

What is your go-to room service order?

I don’t typically do room service, especially since I stay at a lot of select service hotels, however, when I do, it’s likely a cheeseburger and fries and a glass of wine.

Any books/TV/podcasts you are into right now?

I typically will read devotionals and most of my T.V. time is with my daughter watching Heartland on Netflix recently. My guilty pleasures though are Hot Ones celebrity interviews on You Tube, Friends reruns and music documentaries.

JLL Hotels & Hospitality


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