Executive Conversations: Building Resilience with Rob Palleschi, CEO, G6 Hospitality
Rob Palleschi, CEO of G6 Hospitality joins Joanna Todd, AWS’ Head of Worldwide Accommodations and Lodging, for a broad-ranging discussion about the recent disruption faced by travel and hospitality companies – and his company’s response to that disruption. G6 Hospitality owns, operates, and franchises nearly 1,400 economy lodging locations under the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands in the United States and Canada.
This Executive Conversation is one of a series of discussions held with industry leaders, where we seek to learn more about their resiliency, tenacity and capacity for innovation. The series follows the publication of the AWS Travel & Hospitality E-book: “Building Resilience For The Long Run”. Filled with strategic observations, hints and tips, the E-book provides guidance for building a more resilient organization, potentially serving as a useful resource as travel and hospitality companies address both current challenges and those yet to come.
Joanna Todd: While your business is recognized publicly by many, what’s one unique characteristic or feature that is either lesser known or understood about your company?
Rob Palleschi: Our brands – and to some extent, the economy hotel segment in general – have traditionally fared better than brands in other segments during difficult economic periods. When travelers are cutting back on their vacation budgets, they often chose to drive, and they identify lower-cost lodging, so they can spend more of their hard-earned budget in their destination. With more than 1,400 hotels across the US and Canada, that means they are never too far from a Motel 6 or Studio 6. This trend has remained true, even during this unprecedented pandemic. Whether traveling to visit family, a long weekend, or as part of the essential workforce, stretching the travel dollar is more important than ever. We are proud of our role, allowing families to reacquaint, find some fun, or keep our country moving – we’re happy to “leave the light on” for them, pun intended.
JT: Many companies across travel and hospitality have been managing through a period of unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during this recent period and how have you managed through them?
RP: Managing the ongoing government actions has been difficult. With more than 1,400 locations in 48 states, providing regular guidance is a challenge. But when these laws and regulations are modified by Executive Order, health oversight or legislation, on a daily basis, well, that’s a whole new level of fun. Thankfully, our operations team was supported by our in-house legal department and outside counsel hosting daily calls to keep all properties informed of changes, necessary actions, and continued monitoring.
JT: As we all prepare for the next phase of traveler or guest demand, what are some of the changes your company has taken (or plans on taking) to adjust to the current operating environment?
RP: We knew early on we needed to adapt our operating model to help keep guests and team members safe – our top priority – and keep our doors open. We engaged outside medical professionals to help us evaluate real-time intelligence to guide our decisions and draft enhanced safety protocols. We then implemented occupancy controls to promote social distancing, installed Plexiglas barriers in guest contact areas, mandated PPE for our team members, and launched our “Clean@6” enhanced housekeeping standards. All actions were designed to ensure guest and team members have confidence when staying with us or coming to work. We are proud to serve on the inaugural Advisory Council for Safe Stay, an initiative of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, who have been extremely supportive through this crisis.
JT: In the face of the current disruption to the travel and hospitality industry, we’ve observed incredible innovations coming from across the industry. How has your company innovated through these challenging times and what are you most proud of?
RP: By having our Rate Management, Central Reservation, Distribution, and Property Management systems in the cloud connected via our fine-grained services environment, our business teams are able to quickly and efficiently react to the ever-changing environment. Our teams enter data once in the appropriate system of record and that data flows through the environment to all required systems in near-real time. Our technology platform ensures consistent data regardless of channel (Motel6.com, contact center, OTA, or GDS), so our guests know exactly what to expect when booking. These innovations create efficiencies for our business partners and allow us to focus on the needs of our team members and guests.
We also quickly realized our rooms could be used to help shelter those populations who were vulnerable to a pandemic. We felt it was important to partner with the State of California in their Project Roomkey initiative, whereby counties had access to state and federal funds in order to shelter the homeless. We now have approximately 10–12 properties between both owned and franchised locations that have entered into occupancy agreements with their local counties.
JT: The travel and hospitality industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward recovery, what role does technology play for your company moving forward? How do you see technology enhancing the customer experience and improving operational efficiency?
RP: We continue to align innovation to our business objectives. Current innovation efforts focus on reducing touchpoints at check-in and continued optimization of property operations. One way technology reduces the number of contact points with the guest is through contact-free payments. We are communicating with our franchise partners, encouraging the use of contact-free payment methods such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and credit card tap. We also are in the early stages of investigation to alternatives to the traditional plastic room keys. Finally, we have started the deployment of the latest version of our Hotel Key property management system that delivers features that will help us streamline operations even further.
JT: There’s much talk at the moment about how the travel and hospitality experience has changed and there will be a “new normal” going forward. What does this “new normal” look like to you and how do you think the travel experience will look three years from now?
RP: I expect the travel experience will be faster and more streamlined. We might even see faster air travel, a return to supersonic travel perhaps, as travel companies look to reduce the time spent in mass transportation. The lodging experience will continue to include improved contact-free services and “smart” technology-enabled guestrooms – placing more within the guest’s control. A fringe benefit of reducing the time spent on the logistics of travel is that people will have more time to experience their destination, visit more attractions, and enjoy a more adventurous dining experience.
JT: What makes you excited for the future of travel and hospitality? As a traveler or guest, where are you looking forward to visiting next?
RP: It’s less about where, but who. I’m looking forward to hitting the road to visit family, friends, and business associates and catch-up after this long “pause” to enjoy their company, local cuisine, and a lot of laughs. Oh, and I’m really looking forward to the day we can shake hands, high five, and give hugs!
See more Executive Conversations and industry insights on the AWS Travel and Hospitality Blog
Rob Palleschi has served as Chief Executive Officer of G6 Hospitality, the parent company of the iconic Motel 6 brand, since March 2018. G6 Hospitality owns, manages or franchises more than 1,400 economy lodging hotels under the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands in the United States and Canada. A seasoned leader with more than three decades of experience in the hospitality and food & beverage industries, Rob has a proven track record of successfully developing and executing global strategies that focus on revenue growth, product quality and guest experience. You can connect with Rob on LinkedIn.