AAHOA’s next generation: Interviews with second-generation hoteliers

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6_BinitaBinita Patel
HMB Hotels, Vice President

Education:
Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, MMH 2010, and Drexel University, BSBA 2006.

Where do you currently live?
Miami Beach, Florida.

Where did you grow up?
Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Tell us a little bit about your family.
My parents still live in Allentown, where our development and management company is based. I have a younger brother who also works with HMB on both development projects and operations.

Tell us more about the business you’re involved in.
I oversee the asset management of our current portfolio and any financing needs.

Who is your dream mentor?
Bill Marriott Jr.

What gadget can you not live without?
Corkscrew (just kidding!). My iPhone.

What’s your go-to app?
Instagram!

How strongly do you identify with the millennial generation?
I’m an older millennial, so I find myself identifying equally with millennials and Gen Xers.

What’s the best way to describe this generation?
Independent, strong-willed and determined.

What’s the single most important trait for entrepreneurs/hoteliers?
Being a good manager. We are in the people business and it’s not just about the guests, it’s about our team members as well.

How do you define success?
Success is being able to live day to day without worrying where your next meal is coming from or where you’re going to sleep.

What’s your mantra?
Surround yourself with positive people and let them inspire you.

What’s the most solid professional advice you’ve ever received?
Every person’s definition of success is different – don’t judge others by your definition.


6_MiliMili Nitin Shah
Inter National Bank / Imperial Investments Group, Vice President / Managing Member

Education:
New York University, Economics/Journalism, 2008, University of Tennessee, JD/MBA, 2012

Where do you currently live?
South Padre Island, Texas.

Where did you grow up?
Atlanta, Georgia.

Tell us a little bit about your family.
My father was co-founder and 1993 chairman of AAHOA, and my mother is the backbone of our hotel business. My sister is at Harvard University pursuing her dream!

Tell us more about the business you’re involved in.
I am a hotelier, attorney and banker, aka the “triple threat.”

Who is your dream mentor?
My father is my mentor.

What gadget can you not live without?
The obvious: My phone.

What’s your go-to app?
My email! That counts, right?

How strongly do you identify with the millennial generation?
Very strongly, but we also retain the roots and foundation from our baby boomer parents. 1980s kids are a good mix of both.

What’s the best way to describe this generation?
Savvy. Many work hard, but we work smart.

What’s the single most important trait for entrepreneurs/hoteliers?
Passion and vision.

How do you define success?
Being able to give back what I have learned throughout the years.

What’s your mantra?
Work hard, play hard. I am a typical millennial!

What’s the most solid professional advice you’ve ever received?
Think macro, not micro.

What’s been your most humbling moment?
When parents ask me to mentor their children.


6_jaremHimesh Jeram
Qube Hotel Group, Chief Executive Officer/Senior Managing Principal

Education:
Loughborough College, Business Finance.

Where do you currently live?
Frisco, Texas.

Where did you grow up?

Miami, Florida.

Tell us a little bit about your family.
My grandparents are originally from England and moved to America in the 1970s and dived straight into the hotel business. They moved around throughout Atlanta, Miami, South Texas and finally Dallas. Because we are such a tight-knit family, my parents and my brother and I jumped around with them. Moving from place to place allowed me to have a unique childhood, because I was able to experience different cultures in every city in which we lived.

Tell us more about the business you’re involved in.
Qube Hotel Group has successfully built a team with broad expertise in real estate and capital markets. This team has been successful in identifying lucrative investment opportunities and analyzing complex redevelopment projects.

Who is your dream mentor?
Steve Jobs. He was able to conquer almost every obstacle that was presented to him through his wit and determination.

What gadget can you not live without?
My Apple Watch.

What’s your go-to app?
I have been determined to learn new languages because I love to travel. I recently downloaded Duolingo and try to learn a new phrase and a couple of words every day.

How strongly do you identify with the millennial generation?
Because I am a millennial myself, I am able to identify the trends of my generation quite easily.

What’s the best way to describe this generation?
This generation is extremely ambitious and determined. We are more politically engaged and eager for progress.

What’s the single most important trait for entrepreneurs/hoteliers?
Every entrepreneur needs to have a clear vision of what goals he/she wants to achieve. Having the right vision allows one to identify unique opportunities that others have overlooked.

How do you define success?
I do not define success strictly by monetary gains; I define it by the joy and fulfillment one feels after achieving one of their goals.

What’s your mantra?
“You are too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.” —Jennifer Freeman

What’s the most solid professional advice you’ve ever received?
Always trust your gut because it is never wrong.

What’s been your most humbling moment?
One day my grandfather looked over at me and told me, “It’s all you now” and finally trusted me to take the family business to the next level.


6_PoojaPatelPooja Patel
Hotel Investment Group, Director of Brand Marketing

Education:
San Diego State University, Hospitality and Tourism Management, May 2017.

Where do you currently live?
San Diego, California.

Where did you grow up?
San Diego, born in Fresno, California.

Tell us a little bit about your family.
My parents both came to America with their families from England in their teens. They met and married a few years later, at which point my father leased his first 44-room motel in Fresno, California. Tireless, challenging days followed as they operated the hotel while raising a family, but their hard work paid off. Soon they evolved to hiring staff and gained freedom to grow our company, Hotel Investment Group.

I have two siblings, an older brother who is graduating from law school at the University of San Diego and a younger sister who is attending Cornell University pursuing a degree in hotel management. Darshan, Aarti and I grew up in motels, and we all have a strong sense of passion for the hospitality industry.

Tell us more about the business you’re involved in.
My siblings and I started our journey through hotels picking up trash in the parking lot and learning each department related to hotel operations. As the years went on, we explored the corporate departments and still are today. I found my voice in the company, in the past two years in which I headed a multi-property conversion process of our exterior corridor hotels to boutique hotels. My father and I developed a vision that would give travelers an alternative to the cookie cutter brand hotels and provide a unique experience for travelers who wanted a clean, affordable, trendy room. My role in this process was to design, procure and implement the conversion of our properties. This included developing our new property management system, online marketing, website design and operational standards.

My new venture is in hotel real estate; I currently work for Colliers International as a hotel specialist and am pursing my broker’s license.

Who is your dream mentor?
Ivanka Trump. She is the epitome of who I strive to become.

What gadget can you not live without?
My iPhone.

What’s your go-to app?
Pinterest. I gain a flurry of ideas from Pinterest that allows me to expand my repertoire of knowledge. Not only design concepts but innovative marketing and technology insights.

How strongly do you identify with the millennial generation?
I embrace being a Millennial to the utmost.

What’s the best way to describe this generation?
Generation Y, or as I like to call it, the CONNECTED generation. Millennials are infatuated with being connected; we have this strong need to connect with people, our gadgets and our environment whenever and however we want.

What’s the single most important trait for entrepreneurs/hoteliers?
Vision. The ability to develop a plan that defines one’s purpose and envisions what the company will be in the future, I’d argue is the most important trait in an entrepreneur’s arsenal. Vision guides day-to-day operations and strategic decision-making necessary to achieve success.

How do you define success?
I measure success based on the level of one’s happiness between ages 40–50. This time period in life is when an inner peace should be occurring. On a scale of 1–10, if one feels they are above at an 8 or above, then it would be fair to say they have achieved success.

What’s your mantra?
Carpe Diem – seize the day!

What’s the most solid professional advice you’ve ever received?
Evolve constantly, never stop learning. We are living in a world that is changing every minute, so you must keep up.       ■

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