ROOM SOMEWHERE

Mexico 2013 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jaime Levy, Founder & Director of JL Consulting, on the reasons behind founding the company and the dynamics of the hotel industry.

Jaime Levy
BIOGRAPHY
Jamie Levy began working in the tourism industry when he was 15 years old. In July 2009, he founded JL Consulting, which now has an international presence through projects in Mexico, Belize, Colombia, and Aruba. JL Consulting is currently building a hotel in the Condesa area of Mexico City, which will open in 2013.

What motivated the establishment of JL Consulting?

Consulting has been working in hotelier consulting since 2009. When I was working in Mexico City as the general director of a company, I managed nine hotels. Eventually, there was a point when I decided I wanted to open my own company. So, hotel consulting was born and we started with six departments. The “mystery shopper" is one of the departments. What will happen is a client will ask us to be a mystery shopper. We then go to their hotel and evaluate it with more than 1,200 quality standards. We measure the times, the temperatures, the employees, and the sounds; basically, we measure everything. Our mystery shopper department is working really well, and JL Consulting has many clients that are requesting our services monthly. The other department is consulting, which is like health care for hotels. We analyze the hotels and recommend to the owners what, when, and how to do things. We also have a training department for hotel staff. Our company trains staff in a special way for our clients. It is not the usual training scheme where you have 70 people in a ballroom—our company really focuses on one-on-one training with the staff. We also provide sales, representations, PR, and marketing for hotels. The last department that we have, and possibly the most important one, is operations. We operate boutique hotels of 25-100 rooms in size. Basically, we manage everything and report to the owners every month. JL Consulting has been receiving numerous requests from many new clients. However, we are very picky as to which hotels we choose to manage, because one of the key aspects of the operations department is that I am the director of every single hotel for at least two years. For me to guarantee success in every hotel, I am on site every single day managing the hotel. That is the only way I can convince the client that we will be successful.

What opportunities would you say exist at the moment for local property developers?

Boutique hotels present a huge opportunity for developers. There are 1 million sqm in Mexico for rent or sale at the moment. There is a lot of money in Mexico, and people who want to invest, but they don't know where to start. We decided to open up a development company exclusively for boutique hotels. What our company does in ML Desarrollos Hoteleros is to buy a building or a lot. We then find money and the people who want to invest in us. We have created a product in regard to the neighborhood, the people, and the clients. We launch the product and give the project a management team. The opportunities are enormous, and this is why we decided to go into the development business.

How strong is the market in terms of access to finance?

The market is very strong. When I talk to clients and discuss our numbers, such as our 85% occupancy rates at an average of $235, it is a done deal. That is why we have many clients who want to invest in us. Now, my problem is that our company needs more products. I need more hotels and I need more hands. The response has been really surprising. When you produce these numbers for the owners, they want to invest with you again, and they want to invite other people.

JL Consulting is currently building a hotel in Colonia Condesa. What are your broader expansion plans for 2013?

We are planning to open one hotel every 12 months. In December 2012, we planned to open a hotel in Condesa. JL Consulting is working at this very moment on finding new products and new buildings to open in 2014. I think we have a lot of room for development in Mexico City. We are looking into Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Tijuana as other possible destinations. We want to go to Cancún, Tulum, and Los Cabos as well. Outside of Mexico, we would like to open a hotel in Central America or South America instead of going to the US.

 

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