After 13 years as CEO of Omni Hotels & Resorts, Mike Deitemeyer has returned to Interstate Hotels & Resorts, the company where he started his hospitality career, but this time he’s the chief executive.
NEW YORK—While the jump from Omni Hotels & Resorts to Interstate Hotels & Resorts marks a brand new chapter in the career of Mike Deitemeyer, it also marks a return to the start of his time in the hotel industry.
“I’ve actually only had two jobs out of college,” he said, while meeting with Hotel News Now during the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. “My very first job when I was even still in college was when I interned with Interstate Hotels. I moved multiple states multiple times with Interstate and ultimately met an individual that later bought Omni. So, it’s been Interstate and Omni for the last 35 years. It’s fun to come back to the place I started.”
Just three months on the job at this point, Deitemeyer said he’s still getting to know the modern Interstate.
“I’ve really spent the first few months trying to understand the organization,” he said. “It’s a company with 30,000 employees.”
He said being the top executive at Interstate has meant getting a handle on the various locales in which the company operates, spanning across the United States along with the United Kingdom, several European countries and Russia.
“I’ve been on a tour meeting our associates, kind of understanding our strategy in each region and meeting owners,” he said.
Deitemeyer said one of the challenges and opportunities taking over such a broad company, which in total operates more than 82,000 rooms in roughly 450 properties across 10 countries, is finding new areas for growth. He added there is still white space in the U.K. and Europe.
“We’ve got about 20 hotels under development, and we currently manage about 64 in the U.K. and Europe now,” he said.
Ideally, Deitemeyer said he’d like to see the same kind of density in several European countries as what Interstate has in the U.K., naming Germany and Spain in particular.
To help facilitate growth in that region and to capitalize on current international investor sentiment, Interstate has launched the Asia Investment Group with the explicit goal of delivering “exceptional hotel management services to Asian owners seeking to invest in hotels in the U.S. and Europe.”
Growth for third-party management in Asia itself has been historically challenging for the company, Deitemeyer said.
“At one point, Interstate had gone pretty aggressively at China, which was a little too stretched out and dilutive,” he said. “So now our focus is stepping into Germany and Spain and growing our business a little more organically there.”
He foresees opportunities for growth in North America, as well, with plans to build a presence north of the U.S. border.
“We’re in active dialogue on opportunities in Canada to establish a footprint there,” Deitemeyer said. “Years gone, the company did have (that footprint), but through sales we’ve had a pretty minimal presence in Canada. So, we’re looking to focus there on those types of opportunities.”
Beyond geography, Deitemeyer said Interstate is “underpenetrated” in the upper-upscale segment.
“That will be one of our focuses in the near term,” he said.
A multibrand company
One of the biggest shifts from Omni to Interstate is relinquishing control of the brand, since Interstate manages hotels under a plethora of flags.
Deitemeyer acknowledged that presents a new challenge.
“I’m still ramping up on the different nuances between our brands, but I think there are core consistencies,” he said. “As I’ve traveled and met our general managers in different markets, I’ve talked about the core values I bring from Omni that I think are relevant.”
He said the keys to success at any property are excellent customer service and adopting a unifying organizational culture.
“The message we have at a Homewood Suites versus a five-star we open in Napa is the same,” he said. “It’s about engagement. It’s about understanding your customers, anticipating their needs and making them feel valuable. It’s that simple.”
Deitemeyer said he is still working on how to carry that unifying culture from property to property and brand to brand within Interstate’s portfolio.
“Our identity needs to be around our thesis and our promise for how we manage for our owners,” he said. “As a management company, we’re only as good as our 30,000 associates, so it’s about great management instilling training opportunities and providing development and career paths for our associates. So, we’re spending time talking about the cultural aspects of the organization and how we will work to strengthen them further.”
He said one of the biggest advantages of coming over from Omni is that he has established a bit more of an owner’s perspective on the industry.
“As an owner operator, every dollar I spent had to have a return,” Deitemeyer said. “I worked for one man, and every penny was his. Interstate has a reputation of great financial stewardship, but I want to take that further and instill this ownership mindset. We have to be mindful about how we spend others’ money.”