The hospitality model of growth for America


How the industry can supercharge the path toward the American Dream

As our industry continues to navigate the impacts of COVID-19, labor shortages, rising inflation, and volatility within the major economic systems across the globe, hoteliers and industry insiders have been left searching for answers. Executives have been forced to move beyond the balance sheet and into the space of building the future they wish to see.

Imagining a new way forward takes courage and requires us to leverage the economic power of the hospitality industry to provide wider and more efficient pathways to the American Dream, giving associates the financial security needed to thrive and the sparks of inspiration to change the world.

An estimated 52% of Americans live in the middle class. With income inequality growing and inflation on the rise, workers are falling further behind and the American Dream is becoming less attainable.1 The promise of America feels more and more out of reach.

As we know, this hasn’t always been the case. Like many of you, when my family immigrated to America, we came from very humble beginnings. The small motel we owned and operated in Mena, AR, was also our home. Through hard work and determination, we were able to grow our small family business into one of the fastest growing privately held hotel groups in America. And while we take pride in our story and believe strongly in the miracle of capitalism, we know this kind of upward mobility for many Americans is rare and the systems that made our rise possible are in disrepair.

Ravi Patel (center) alongside parents Angie and Bob Patel

Since the strength of our economy determines the limits of our possibilities to change the world and workers are the foundation of our economy, it follows that without human capital, there is no financial capital. And without capital – the basic currency of the global economy – our ability to enact sweeping change is diminished.

This is where the hospitality model of growth can be a gamechanger. The model is quite simple. At its most basic level, it maintains that the more social cohesion we achieve through equitable economic growth and financial security, the more prosperous we will become as a nation. This is not a political philosophy, but rather a simple formula for meaningful progress.

Culture, arts, and entertainment properties like The Chauncey in Iowa City are superhubs for creative collisions, the serendipitous meetings that happen frequently in creative spaces where people gather. At the Chauncey, Hawkeye Hotels has a mixed-use development catering to the community by offering hotel guests the ability to engage via a coffee shop, local not-for-profit movie theater, bowling alley, and arcade.

In the coffee shops, and open-floorplan dining and work areas that give this new class of hotel vibrancy, diverse groups of people can connect and exchange ideas, develop new solutions, or begin to restore the social bonds between us that have frayed during decades of division. Creative collisions allow guests and Hawkeye’s staff to engage in a coworking environment. As the hospitality industry adjusts to a new work-from-home hybrid model, we believe projects like this will attract more guests and fuel more travel in general.

It’s in our interest as hoteliers to ensure these culture, arts, and entertainment properties remain populated by doing our part to construct them with intentional creative design and drive the economy. It’s in our interest as a country to learn the deeper lesson behind this seemingly innocuous model of growth.

We already are proving that when we empower workers with clear pathways for advancement, we provide a considerable portion of Americans with financial security and hope for the future. And as we invest in hotel concepts that facilitate creative collisions, we provide the fuel for the innovation needed to solve the hard problems we face. This is how conscious capitalism can drive prosperity and ultimately become one of the most effective forces for good the world has ever seen.

As the coming generations of business leaders begin to accumulate more wealth, the responsibility to society becomes more apparent and more urgent than ever. What better way to leverage the power of capital than by investing in the renewal of the American Dream, making it possible for all people.

1. Kochhar, Rakesh. “The American Middle Class Is Stable in Size, but Losing Ground Financially to Upper-Income Families.” Pew Research Center, 2016.


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