Paul Darrow is the founder and president of PHD Financial – a boutique investment banking firm specializing in hospitality finance, debt restructure, consulting services, funding acquisition and financial advisory. He’s also a former hotel owner with a strong understanding of hotel operations.
Paul began his career in the hotel/consulting/finance world back in 1983, and his early experiences took place in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and St. Johns in the Virgin Islands. Paul has also been part of the debt restructure process since 2008, and he has found helping hoteliers to save their properties and/or be more profitable to be a very rewarding experience for him.
Paul’s transition occurred while he was working in an unrelated field. At the time, he owned a court reporting agency and supplied that personnel to governmental agencies and law firms. While vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, he met the owners of a hotel property and learned they wanted to retire. He admits he wasn’t enthusiastic about it at first, but eventually decided to purchase the property. They had about 20 buildings- all of which needed renovations. There was also a restaurant in it which was very popular. Paul decided to get a hotel restaurant management’s degree as well. He owned this for about 20 years and it provided him a very rich experience. It also lead him to meet a key individual from the finance world. All these elements allowed for an easy transition to go from operations to finance.
Paul says all hoteliers should make sure they do the following 3 things before going into business:
Find yourself a good accountant and lawyer and run your business. Not doing so is simply foolish! You can’t own a property for free. You borrowed money to get it and it’s the bank’s expectation that you will pay back what you borrowed. This is also important so that you have support in understanding the legalities stated in documentation. The text in these documents is not easily understood – it’s critical to have someone that can represent you and who can decode these things.
Keep in mind that banks can see your financial progress. They have a plan that can potentially leave you impotent if you don’t have the right things in place. I.e- a good lawyer and a good accountant, keeping a daily report of records, and great management. As the banks track your progress, they can detect how you are doing and if it comes down to foreclosure, there is no one who can defend you. This is how hoteliers lose their properties. Don’t wait until the last minute to take action! Stay on your game and be prepared.
Paul finds entrepreneurs to be amazing people. What separates them from the rest is they recover from failure quickly, and they are just as enthusiastic about the next thing, not looking back, but really moving forward to be successful. It is tremendous character!
As the economy started to stabilize- Paul learned that hoteliers needed to do a lot more than just straighten out their debt. They also started looking at those items mentioned earlier in the shownotes (see above “3 things before going into business”) and taking it seriously. Paul’s firm helps people get organized in these areas. Find out more about their services here: http://phdfinancialllc.com/services
Many hotels these days have made room for guests with disabilities. Hotel managers and staff should also know what the Americans with Disabilities Act says about accommodating guests with pets. During the pandemic lockdowns, a lot of people added a pet to their household and now they’re bringing Fido along on vacation. Hotel employees need to know how to cater to both consumers who are pet owners as well as guests who travel with a trained service animal. Episode 329 of Lodging Leaders podcast reports on how the ADA defines a service animal and how a hotel is legally obligated to serve a guest who comes with a dog or any other animal.
Nearly 48 million Americans plan to travel over the Fourth of July weekend, predicts AAA. Most of them will drive and many of them plan to stay in hotels. What makes a travel consumer choose your hotel? Price can be a factor but so can the story the property tells through its online photos and its real-life curb appeal. First impressions of a hotel set the tone for the guest’s entire stay. Its roadside image is more important than ever as the lodging industry this summer hangs its hopes on a comeback driven by domestic travelers. Lodging Leaders podcast explores the importance of a hotel’s curb appeal as hoteliers think of ways to attract travelers seeking safety and assurance as the nation emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.