Shamin Hotels

Shamin Hotels Hilton exterior

Shamin Hotels sets an example by treating its associates and guests

with a level of respect that goes beyond business.

By Tim O'Connor

There are four key values that Shamin Hotels lives by each day: to empower, encourage, embrace and exceed. The Virginia hospitality company’s managers strive to instill those traits in each of their associates by leading through example and treating workers with the same respect they give to guests.

“You’re not going to build trust unless you have credibility,” Vice President of Operations Mark Yardis says. “You have to treat everyone with respect, be fair and take pride in everything you do.

Shamin has always fostered a family atmosphere but three years ago the company began investing more heavily in defining its culture and how Shamin Hotels infoit conducts business. That has helped it keep a more consistent level of service among its many hotel brands, which include Hilton, Marriott, Intercontinental, Choice, Starwood, Hyatt and Best Western.

“It was a wise investment because we fly the different flags,” Yardis says. “The associates at the hotels absolutely, positively have to believe in their brand … but we think we can also get enhanced results by making sure they know who we are and what we stand for.”

Sometimes that means going above and beyond what’s expected. When the heating system broke in Richmond, Va.’s Creighton Court public housing apartments in early December, dozens of families were left without a warm place to sleep. The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority couldn’t immediately fix the complex’s old boiler system, so Shamin reached out and offered to house the residents in a nearby hotel at no charge. “In my career – 40 years – I have never heard of anybody putting up 60 people for free for a month. That’s just over the top. But that’s the kind of family I work for and I’m very lucky for having the honor of working for them.”

Select-Service Success

The compassion Shamin showed for the Creighton Court residents comes directly from its founder. A first-generation Indian immigrant, PC Amin purchased his first hotel in 1979. In the nearly 40 years since, he’s grown Shamin into the largest hotel owner/operator in central Virginia and has expanded its footprint to Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Colorado. “His story is literally the American dream where he built a company through his keen insight into locations, hotel brands and changing traffic patterns,” Yardis says.

Shamin Hotels Hilton poolYardis joined the company 11 years ago and immediately realized the difference between Shamin and the larger chains he had worked for in the past. “For PC, first and foremost, it was about providing service to the guests and getting customers for life.”

The select-service market was a change of pace from the full-service hotels he was used to, but Yardis quickly realized the level of targeted service for a customer staying in the smaller, less amenity-rich hotels was just as high. A little Hampton Inn with 70 to 100 rooms could hit a RevPAR (revenue per room available) index of 145, better than many full-service hotels. “When I came on board I was aware that there were select-service hotels out there but I had never worked in one or stayed in one,” he says. “To see one of those was truly an eye-opener for me because I’ve been in cities all around America for my career and never considered that type of hotel as a competitor.”

The company was still relatively small with only 16 hotels when Yardis came on board. Yardis’ role was to put the standards in place and solidify Shamin’s operational footing so that it could open and manage full-service hotels in the upscale category with an eye toward consistency in the product and service. Following those plans, Shamin has grown to 53 hotels and 7,055 rooms. “It has been an exciting decade,” Yardis says.

Submarket Strategy

Shamin’s strategy has been to cluster its different hotel brands together in the same submarket to give customers a greater variety of choice. “For the customers that are brand loyal, they can choose the hotels they want,” Yardis says. It’s not unusual for the company to build a Homewood Suites next to a Hampton Inn and for there to be a Holiday Inn across the street. The approach also creates better economies of scale since certain items can be purchased from the same supplier and shared across multiple locations. Finally, the proximity of the hotels makes them easier to manage since executives can more easily visit multiple locations on the same day.

The closeness of the hotels helps to foster open communication between hotel workers and Shamin’s upper management. “A housekeeper at a hotel can call the CEO by his first name,” Yardis claims.

The ease of that communication creates a culture where the line between management and employee is blurred and everyone feels more in tune with the company’s direction and success. “It’s a very powerful concept to have people engaged with their positions and taking ownership of their respective responsibilities because at the end of the day we all want to passionately serve the guests,” Yardis says.

“Whatever the day or event is, you try to go out there and help the team members create a memory where you really touch somebody’s heart,” he adds.

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