Juan Mera is general manager of North Point Hospitality Group’s tri-brand Marriott hotel in downtown Nashville.
Taking the job was a challenge that Mera knew was a rare career opportunity. And it made him break a promise to his wife.
Mera is a native of Lima, Peru. He came to the U.S. nearly 30 years ago when he was in his early 20s.
Two weeks after setting foot in America, he landed a job as a bellman at Canyon Ranch Resort in Tucson.
“What was interesting is the bellman job required the candidate to be able to drive a van to the airport and pick up guests,” Mera said. “I did not have a driver’s license; I’d never driven before. They hired me anyway. I was a true bellman because I was stationed at the property and carried guests’ bags.”
About a month into the job, Mera was placing luggage in a back room and he overheard the front-office manager say they needed a night auditor. He asked for the job and got it.
He stayed at Canyon Ranch for eight years, working his way up to front office manager.
“It was a lot of hard work,” Mera said. “You have to love what you do. I fell in love with hospitality the day that I started.”
Mera went on to work for two more hotel companies, eventually becoming a general manager. Along the way, he met Whip Triplett, who is now executive vice president at North Point Hospitality Group.
Triplett recruited Mera for North Point Hospitality 15 years ago as general manager of the Hampton Inn and Suites in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Mera went on to manage the company’s newly constructed SpringHill Suites in the Buckhead neighborhood in Atlanta. At the time, it was the largest SpringHill Suites in the country.
Over his career, Mera has opened eight hotels. The time-consuming job usually requires relocating to a new community.
A few years ago, Mera and his wife, Harumi, had settled in Savannah where Mera managed three of North Point Hospitality’s hotels. He had promised Harumi no more moves.
Soon after, he learned North Point Hospitality planned to build the tri-brand in Nashville. The project needed a seasoned general manager. “I told my wife, this has never been done before. She told me I had to take the job.”
Global business travel is a $1.4 trillion industry. The Global Business Travel Association calculates the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 resulted in a loss of $113 billion in business travel spend in hotels, airlines and other sectors of the travel industry. But all is not lost. GBTA, industry analysts and travel management companies see some green shoots of hope for 2021 as the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out and corporations put some of their people on the road again. This report is part of Long Live Lodging’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the hospitality industry.
Long Live Lodging, an online multimedia news organization that covers the hospitality industry, found itself tossing aside its plans for news coverage late in the first quarter of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and devastated the hospitality industry. The year turned out to be ground-breaking for Long Live Lodging, which developed the industry’s first live digital conference, and its podcast, Lodging Leaders, which increased its followers through timely, credible and balanced reporting on trends and issues driving the industry during the historic year. The company also won international recognition for its coverage of the COVID-19 crisis and its work as a whole. Long Live Lodging is a startup media company, formed in 2019, with Lodging Leaders, which was founded in 2015. In today’s report, we celebrate the podcast’s 300th episode. Podcast founder and co-host Jon Albano and co-host Judy Maxwell have a free-wheeling conversation in which they review the top podcasts of 2020 (Can anyone say ‘fair franchising’?) and give a brief preview of what the media organization plans for 2021.