LOS ANGELES, CA - Dilipkumar ‘Danny’ Patel of Kathleen, Georgia, is a hospitality veteran who has held numerous leadership positions within the industry, but was most recently elected 2014 chairman of the Best Western Board of Directors. The Board is elected by hotel owners from among the more...
Patel’s election to the Best Western board is the latest chapter in a story that truly encapsulates the idea of the “American dream.” Born and raised in Gujarat, India, Patel is the CEO and founder of Peach State Hospitality Company, a family-run business that developed and owns 34 hotels across Alabama and Georgia. Patel learned the hotel business from the ground up when he moved to the U.S. after college to live with his uncle, who owned a hotel in Huntsville, Alabama. He purchased his first hotel in Montezuma, Georgia in 1990 and went on to launch Peach State with two of his brothers, where in addition to his CEO responsibilities he served as general contractor for most of their hotels. He has been a Best Western member for 20 years and has owned eight different Best Western hotels, having been drawn to the brand’s membership model where every hotel is individually owned and operated and every member gets a voice within the organization. Patel has also served on the board of the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association (GH&LA) and as chairman for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA).
1. In an interview with India Journal, when asked about his reaction to being elected as chair to Best Western Board, he said, “As a membership organization, Best Western is unique. Each of our hotels is individually owned and operated, and I know the membership is made up of people like me who are building businesses to support their families. I feel an obligation to give back for all of the wonderful opportunities I have had through the brand. It is an honor to serve as Board Chairman this year as we continue to pursue strategies to drive more revenue to Best Western branded hotels and increase brand equity.”
How will you contribute in this capacity to help Best Western grow?
Explaining that the Board of Directors is made up of seven Best Western hotel owners, he said they work closely with David Kong, Best Western’s president and CEO, and his senior team, to help guide business strategies and operations. “Each Director brings a different perspective and set of skills to the boardroom. My expertise is in hotel design and construction. As a strong global brand, we are implementing initiatives to take market share and increase the competitiveness of our hotels. Our Design Excellence program is just one example where we are focused on renovating the high-impact areas of all of our hotels over a five-year period,” he added.
Asked how Best Western was doing in India, Patel is quick in saying“ We’re growing.” In January this year he led a delegation from Best Western, including David Kong, to India where the team visited Afva, Bardoli and Dehli.“ This trip was the first time an international hotel CEO visited the area where I grew up, and we had the opportunity to visit with many current and prospective Best Western members to describe the brand’s progress. Under the new leadership of Prime Minster Modi, India is poised for significant economic growth in the years to come, and Best Western is committed to being a part of India’s bright future,” he said. Questioned on whether the hospitality industry was picking up and if it has made substantial gains Patel was candid in saying ,“ It’s a good time to be in the hospitality business, particularly the midscale market. Occupancy and revenues are growing as more travelers are hitting the road. The travel industry has surpassed pre-recession employment levels. Construction financing has been limited since the recession. However, we are seeing more construction activity in the midscale segment as financing becomes easier to obtain.”
As for advice to those wanting to join the hospitality industry Patel zeroes in on passion, saying “to be in the hospitality business you have to be passionate about caring for others. My first job in the industry was working at my uncle’s hotel many years ago, and I found I enjoyed it very much. The work isn’t easy and the hours can be long, but the hospitality industry offers many opportunities for career advancement for those who are dedicated. Hospitality is still an industry where hard work pays off.”
Pinning the reasons for his success Patel says “The primary reason I am where I am today is my work ethic. I am persistent and work very hard. I believe in doing things in a timely manner. I value other people’s time, and if I say I’m going to do something by a certain deadline, I stick to it. Over the years, this has helped me develop strong relationships. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to achieve anything without the love and support of my family. They are my bedrock.”
As someone who came from humble beginnings, Patel is committed to giving back to the community and is an active humanitarian who serves on the board of several nonprofits. Asked about his future plans he says he will continue to work hard to further develop his company, Peach State Hospitality. “It is a family-operated organization, and I want my son to run the company one day to continue that legacy. I am focused on growing and strengthening the company for long-term success. As my son becomes more involved in the day-to-day operations, I want to spend more of my time doing community work here in the US and in India. I love the US, but it is important to me that disadvantaged children in India have the same educational opportunities as children in the US do. So I have dedicated myself to the cause of improving education in my homeland.