Justin Jabara was appointed president of Meyer Jabara Hotels – an owner operator with 30 hotels in the portfolio – in March 2020, so you can only imagine how his gameplan was rocked by COVID. Fortunately, Meyer Jabara was able to stay on track and actually grew its portfolio during the pandemic.
A big takeaway from Justin on this episode of the Lodging Luminaries podcast (Audible, Amazon) is how, amid the ongoing labor challenges, Meyer Jabara has focused on becoming a world-class employer and its dedication to bettering the lives and careers of its employees. Also interesting, and something we kept coming back to, was Justin’s enthusiasm for the extended stay segment and what that means for our industry moving forward.
Listen to the entire conversation with Justin Jabara here or read highlights of the conversation below.
Q: How is Meyer Jabara evolving its hiring process in light of the current labor situation?
Jabara: When I thought about the recovery from March 2020 to where we are now, one of the things I never thought we’d be dealing with is an employment shortage. It just wasn’t on our radar. Today, it’s very competitive, and we’re no longer competing against just hospitality. Hospitality had a pretty terrible year, and many other industries did not, whether it’s financial services, online retail, you name it. So we’re competing against them for best-in-class associates. So, the way we’ve approached this is no longer can we be a best-in-industry employer, we need to be a world-class employer.
That’s really put pressure on us to innovate and think differently about what our benefits are, and how we recruit and retain. To offer a job in today’s environment is no longer appealing. You need to offer an experience. You need to offer a lifestyle. What is it like to be part of the Meyer Jabara family and work for Meyer Jabara Hotels? So, now we’re not only in the experience business for our guests, but also our associates.
Q: What is it about the extended-stay segment that has helped it outperform through the pandemic?
Jabara: I think extended stay is almost like a chameleon. It can operate as it’s intended to, which is long-term stay. But, because of the layout of the room, the size, the amenities within them – it’s also appealing to the transient customer who’s coming in for one night, two nights, but appreciates the extra living space and the flexibility that that room offers. It offers great value for weekend leisure groups, where you can be in town for a game and have the kids sleep in the living room on the pullout. So, it’s a very versatile room type.
So, when things are tough, there’s a lot of value in an extended-stay hotel, and when things are good, there’s still a lot of value there. Extended stay has definitely won a spot in my heart moving forward.