Interessant Hotels & Resort Management
A passion hospitality
Business View Magazine interviews Janendra Gautam, President & CEO of Interessant Hotels & Resort Management, for our focus on Top Hotel Management Groups
“I’m a hotel doctor,” says Janendra Gautam, President and CEO of Interessant Hotels & Resort Management (IHRMC). “I’m a hospitality doctor. That is what I know… this is what I’m about.” One would be hard pressed to find a stronger leader or advocate for the hospitality industry in what has been a very difficult past two years. Together with his team, they are keeping a pulse on the field and prescribing plans for growth for hotels around the world.
Gautam has worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. Born and raised in India, he feels blessed by the opportunities he’s found in the United States. He is passionate about his people, his projects, and of course, his profits. In other words, as he so succinctly puts it, “I’m married to the industry.”
After earning his master’s degree in hospitality management, Gautam served as the Hotel Director with Carnival Cruise Lines (the youngest ever to do so) and Hawaii Luxury Cruise Lines. Then he moved to the U.S, where he consulted and assisted hotel owners. He explains, “I realized I had more hunger in me, so I pursued my career to do my own thing and launched my own company.” In 2004, Gautam founded GI Hotel Group, a hospitality firm that quickly grew its portfolio to more than 76 properties and was one of the fastest growing companies in Florida. In 2011, GI Hotels Group merged with Interessant, with Gautam at the helm.
Today, Interessant is a global hotel management company based in Orlando, Florida – one of the world’s largest and most popular destination cities. The firm owns, operates, and develops hotels in the U.S., Latin America, India, and the Caribbean. IHRMC assists hotel owners and operators to maximize ROI, offer exceptional customer service, and attain desired economic results for their hotel and resort properties. In the last 10 years, Gautam has directed $400 million in renovations and $450 million in new development projects. He notes, “There are four different banks and I handle all of those banks under my leadership: I’m running the hotel management company, hotel development company, hotel financing company, and the hotel acquisition company.” The Interessant portfolio has 76 hotels, with 24 owned by them. The rest are managed by a third party.
IHRMC’s mission is to achieve exponential growth in their properties by forming strategic partnerships that allow them to build new hotels, acquire existing properties in lucrative markets, and work with underperforming hotels toward growth advancement.
Gautam admits, “It’s pretty impressive. We talk about the hospitality aspect. It’s just not managing hotels. It’s a passion. It’s technology… today’s technology has changed the industry. Social media has changed the industry. We actually started our own revenue management system, which attracts and generates more revenue than any property does. Every day when I wake up, I say, you know what, I need to have something different than what other people are doing. And secondly, it’s not what other people are doing because I don’t compete with anybody. I just compete with myself… how I’m going to be better every day. And I see it. I see it on social media. I see it on TV. I talk with friends about what’s happening in the industry. How can we generate more revenue and bring more jobs to the economy? I’m always thinking. It’s just become the culture.”
Gautam brought that same culture to my company. He adds, “We meet up in the morning when I go into the office. We grab everybody, have some coffee and tea, and sit down for ten minutes and talk about what exactly our goals are going to be. What challenges are we facing in our industry? That’s what I’m all about. I’m all about the ‘let’s face it. Let’s fix it. And let’s make it right’.”
Being a hands-on executive, Gautam is strategic and focused, as evidenced by his tremendous success. His enthusiasm is palpable: “This industry… I just love it. It’s not one single thing. It’s everything. And I don’t just want to talk about it sometimes. I always talk about it. I’m constantly on social media talking about the hospitality and tourism sector. I’m there to resolve the situation if something is happening in the local industry.”
Gautam’s passion is more than just his profits, though. He’s also passionate about his people. “Motivation is one of the important things in our company,” he states. “And just not in our company, it’s for anybody. If you keep motivating your employees, I think that’s the best benefit you can get… advancement of employees is the most important thing.” Throughout the pandemic, Gautam checked on staff members regularly to let them know they weren’t forgotten, however, the outcome wasn’t always positive. He admits, “I lost a lot of employees… God bless them, their souls. You just never know from one day to the next, right?” he says, choking back tears. “Very tough.”
The pandemic has been hard for everyone, everywhere, but the tourism industry suffered perhaps deeper than most. “We were the hardest hit,” Gautam says. “The industry lost about 3.5 million jobs in 2020. When the international borders were closed, cities became like a ghost town. Hotels and motels were completely shut down. According to the U.S. Travel Association, we declined 42% in 2020, which is nearly $500 billion from 2019.”
To add to the dilemma, COVID had a crushing economic impact on the global supply chain. Facility managers were running the hotels, without the necessary goods. Gautam confides, “How can we effectively run the hotel or any industry? So, automatically what’s going to happen is that the prices inflate. And the supply chain is way behind because of labor issues.” To emphasize the fact, Gautam points to an order of supplies he made in 2019 for one of his hotels and is told the products are still in containers in California because there are simply no workers. Resiliency being the word of the times, the hospitality industry refuses to give up. As Gautam notes, “We are still struggling and trying to bounce back.”
The labor issue is being felt keenly within IHRMC. Their staff has shrunk from 4500 employees pre-pandemic to 625 today. Thirty percent of Gautam’s elder staff have taken early retirement. ”They want to be safe and I don’t blame them,” he says. “The worker shortage isn’t just a local problem, either. It’s an international one, there are 10 million available jobs in the industry.” That being said, this ‘hotel doctor’ is confident things will turn around. “Although, It’s not going to happen overnight,” he says. “I see reports every day, anticipating that it might take a few years to balance up in the hospitality sector.”
The good news is that IHRMC has projects that have been on hold for a while that are now ready to go in the next few months. And acquisitions will be a big part of the business growth model going forward. “I love acquisitions,” says Gautam. “I have several development projects coming up: five hotels plus two multi-family projects in Orlando which I really want to do – they are very high end. My vision is the ROI, the growth. That’s what I’m all about. This is something in my blood… I’m always going to be an advocate for the industry.”
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AT A GLANCE
Interessant Hotels & Resort Management
What: Leaders in hospitality management
Where: Headquarters in Orlando, Florida