ABERDEEN, South Dakota — The map showing the 30 My Place hotels forms a semicircle around a big, empty Canada, stretching from Anchorage, Alaska to Monaca, Penn. The company plans to fill in some of that space.
My Place co-founder, chairman and CEO Ron Rivett co-founded Super 8 Motels Inc. in Aberdeen, S.D., in 1974, along with long-time friend Dennis Brown. After selling the Super 8 Motel system in 1993, Ron remained in the hotel business developing, building, and operating Super 8 Motels and other branded properties as a franchisee until 2011.
Ron and his oldest grandson, Ryan Rivett, co-founded My Place hotels in 2012, with the goal of creating affordable extended stay hotels. Canadian Lodging News spoke with CEO Ryan Rivett, and Terry Kline, executive vice-president, franchise development.
Both the younger Rivett and Kline have a long history with Super 8, Rivett because he grew up in the company and Kline because he was vice president, franchise development, for 17 years, starting when the Rivetts owned the brand, and continuing as it was sold and evolved to be part of HFS, then Cendant and finally Wyndham Hotels. The Super 8 connection means they know many Canadian hoteliers, including Marc Staniloff of Superior Lodging Corp., Glenn Squires from Pacrim and Cam Christianson of Canalta.
“We have lots of presence on the border — it's just a matter of time [before we build in Canada],” said Kline.
The brand is 100 per cent new build and 100 per cent franchised.
“There are a lot of opportunities for new build economy branded properties today,” said Kline, noting that there were many “seasoned” properties at the other end of the bell curve.
“We focus on meeting the price point of the economy traveller, but also to be complimentary to the midscale and upper midscale segment. It's a niche concept,” said Rivett. The brand has two comp sets: Extended Stay America, Studio 6, Econolodge and Super 8 on the economy side; and Candlewood, MainStay, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites and TownePlace in the midscale and upper midscale segments. It appeals to demographics ranging from construction crews and truck drivers to families on a budget.
My Place is developed by hoteliers and designed for hoteliers, they say. “Our history and design resonate.”
“We don't overdevelop the property, for example, with big meeting rooms, big rooms for continental breakfast and pools,” said Kline, citing the capital costs and the fact that these facilities are often under-utilized.
The brand prototype is for a 64-room, three-storey or 63-room four-storey property, but actual properties range in size from 46 to 85 rooms. “Our biggest success in the markets we operate in is where we identify local demand generators.” These demand generators can be anything from a location along transit lines, corporate business, medical travel, areas with travelling nurses, families in transit and university towns. “It's not rocket science. It's what works,” said Kline.
This means the concept is suitable for small towns with 12,000 to 15,000 people or cities such as Atlanta or Denver. Although energy markets are suffering now, Alberta and Saskatchewan are possible markets, Kline said.
The personal support of a small company is an advantage for franchisees, he added. “They can call Ryan, myself or Ngoc [Thach, director of public relations],” said Kline. Training is another advantage, as courses at My Place University in Aberdeen begin this year.
“We're pretty fixated on our growth,” said Rivett. “We have 30 hotels and are planning for 50 by the end of the year.” He added that franchisees are not building just one hotel; from that start, they are building a second, third or fourth, and from there they are looking at development agreements or area franchise development.
See the 2016 Year in Review video.