A leafy suburb by day, and the city’s liveliest restaurant and bar joint by night. It’s rare to find a location that ticks so many boxes for guests, tourists and locals alike.
So, when I realised that at the heart of this area was a twenty-one bedroom hotel that’s left unoccupied for the majority of the week… my jaw dropped. That is when the big hotel takeover 2022 story started.
Those who know me well will tell you that there are two things that I hate to waste in life. I hate to waste time. And I hate to waste money.
Five months ago, I was presented with a scenario that irked me for both of these reasons. But little did I know that something which started off as a general business enquiry to Luke Capital Group would cascade into one of our company’s biggest milestones, as well as a huge learning opportunity for me. “We cannot afford to open the hotel 7 days a week” The call came through from Newcastle Jesmond Hotel back in 2021. They reached out to me and my team for help with the business management side of things.
The Hotel Takeover 2022
Despite its prime location, the hotel could only afford to open on weekends (and subsequently, remain closed Monday to Friday) and was seriously struggling to keep things afloat. I’m proud to say that managing accommodation is one of the roles we serve best at Luke Capital Group.
So, when this enquiry came about, I was confident that we could put the right systems, processes and management practices in place, to aid the smooth and profitable running of the hotel – unlike what it had recently experienced.
However, it soon came to light that the owner was keen to allow us to ‘take over’ the hotel; and detach himself from any further stress and responsibilities. I must admit, given how this hotel had been suffering for the last several months, this didn’t surprise me.
Regardless of its history, I realised that there was no reason why this property couldn’t thrive just as well as its neighbouring hotels and serviced accommodation providers (which I had actually researched myself). And so, with all this in mind, I decided to take on the first hotel in our company portfolio.
Before I knew it, the hotel team and I were exchanging contracts; and I was about to orchestrate yet another milestone moment for Luke Capital Group.
The Journey Of The Hotel Story
The Journey is More Rewarding than the Destination. The funny thing is if somebody had advised me about the beauty of ‘a journey’ at any point over the last 5 months – I wouldn’t have been so receptive.
Because there’s no sugar-coating the fact that the last few months of negotiation have been tough. When I initially agreed to follow through with the acquisition of this hotel, I was distracted by my big plans for the business: How we would make it more cost-efficient, how we would automate every area, how we would book out rooms months in advance.
These were all realistic and commercially-savvy ideas (all of which we have been implementing).
However, it gave me little time to consider all the nitty-gritty of actually getting the deal over the line. It was weeks’ worth of reviewing and re-reviewing contracts, as well as all the small print, and ‘dots and crosses’ on every single term, from a hugely detail-orientated owner.
By nature, I am not the most detail-oriented person; so this was a challenge for me. Though I knew it was something I had to get past, in order to acquire the hotel successfully. That’s business sometimes – you have to take the good with ‘the bad’.
During the negotiation process, we had the Christmas break, solicitors going on holiday, and a huge rise in costs and utility bills – which to this day, has the entire industry nursing their wounds. So, I’d be lying if I said there were no occasions when I hadn’t been tempted to discontinue the acquisition altogether and wait till an opportunity with less friction came along.
But while the process tested my resolve at the best of times, it was an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about my own strengths and weaknesses (many of which were new to me).
In retrospect, I think it was the moments when I felt most frustrated, where I did the majority of my learning – as such, even the setbacks were glorious blessings in disguise. I also had a fantastic team supporting me throughout the entire journey, who helped keep me motivated and on the right track.
Isn’t it incredible how as leaders, we sometimes lean on our team, as much as they lean on us? A Hotel of the Future – You can only imagine the sheer elation and relief, on the day the acquisition went through.
I remember looking back at the mountains of paperwork that I’d gathered over the months, which secretly told stories of sleepless nights and second thoughts. That moment alone made me feel exceptionally proud and grateful for getting this deal over the line.
The New Addition To Our Portfolio
The first hotel of our property portfolio; and an incredible one at that. It has truly felt like a colossal milestone and one that I’m determined to continue growing and evolving from. Our plans for Newcastle Jesmond Hotel include making it as cost-efficient as possible, and ultimately ensuring that it runs like a well-oiled machine.
We will automate large parts of the business, such as the check-in and check-out process, guest monitoring and guest transaction(s); and focus on offering great value-for-money hotel rooms only – minus the responsibility (and costs) of an added restaurant and bar.
Our very experienced in-house team will take care of all the management side of things, and all the other duties that come with running a successful hotel business. Most importantly, we will put the correct systems and processes in place so that business continues to tick over throughout the year, even without our physical presence.
This is what I feel the future of business is.
Technology aids hospitality – it doesn’t ‘kill’ it. Since acquiring the hotel, we have already received several bookings and the upcoming season is looking financially healthy for sure. This business was certainly not destined to be ‘closed’ five days a week, and I’m delighted that my team and I are continuing to prove this every day.
1 Hotel. 3 Lifetime Lessons. They do say ‘the best things in life are never easy’ and for me, the last 5 months have been a testament to that.
But now, after the successful takeover of our very first hotel – I’m filled with immense gratitude, and lessons that I’ll carry with me forever. This is coming from someone who didn’t have a clue about the property industry just a few years ago.
It just goes to show you what self-belief and a hell of a lot of hard work can do. So, the next time you feel put off by the enormity of a goal, don’t let yourself (nor anybody else) talk you out of pursuing it.
Trust me, that feeling of ‘winning’ at the end is unmatchable and one that’ll put you in good stead throughout the rest of your business journey.
Here are my top 3 learnings from The Big Hotel Takeover: Fears will talk you out of your dreams if you allow them to. So, trust your gut, your intuition, and your experience and take the risk. You’ll always be better off trying and failing; than thinking ‘What if?’.
Sometimes, a deal won’t go how you’d planned (nor even wanted). However, throughout this experience, I learned that I was actually getting in the way of myself. I have grown to realise my own strengths and weaknesses; and discovered that I’m a person who enjoys being in control.
When this control is taken away from me, the barriers go up and I can easily self-sabotage if I’m not careful. I can work on this now. Self-awareness is crucial in business.
Teamwork really does make the dream work. In the run-up to this deal, I had taken a chance on a great lad who was in the motor trade and trained him up. This hotel is one of the first deals he found.
I’d actually fallen out of love with viewing properties and the deal sourcing side of things, so I recruited support to ensure that the business was still moving forward. There was risk involved here – not only in the new recruit himself but in the added cost, too.
However, I taught myself to view this decision as an ‘investment’ from which I’d get a more-than-decent ROI. This mindset shift has been pure gold.
Insight From The Hotel Story
So, that’s the story of The Big Hotel Takeover. Hardly the ‘fairytale’ you’d expect from big businesses who are smashing out milestones – but it’s raw and honest, and one that I hope will inspire many of you to chase your dreams.
However wild, zany or enormous they may seem.
You can find out more about the property management we do at Luke Capital Group, as well as updates about The Newcastle Jesmond Hotel.
In the meantime, keep building and keep bettering – Ryan.