Starting out as an immigrant from India working in a single hotel, Roy Patel has grown his family-centered hospitality business from the ground up. In just under 40 years, Patel has managed to develop, manage and own more than 22 hotels as well as manage each of them through his company Southern Hospitality Services, LLC. The business itself strives to live up to its namesake by putting its many customers first and by maintaining a healthy, growing business model.
Southern Hospitality Services was founded by Roy Patel, developer and president, and Nash Patel, developer and vice-president, who shared a vision “to own and manage” their own hotel portfolio. It currently operates properties in Mississippi, Louisiana and California with new hotels in various stages of development.
“I came to this country in July 1977, and my in-laws had a hotel,” said Roy Patel. “I stayed with them and learned the business.” In less than a year, Patel had managed to buy his first hotel located in Livingston, California, which the first step of building what in 2003 would become the Southern Hospitality Services enterprise. Patel describes his first hotel as “an independent hotel with seventeen rooms- very small. “ He kept the hotel for one year before selling the property.
Patel’s next step was to move to Redlands, California, and buy a 35-room independent hotel. “And that hotel- we completely made the renovation ourself,” said Patel. “Because it was a run-down property, we fixed it. We learned the business, too, at the same time.”
After three years, Patel and his family decided to sell the hotel in California and move to Waco, Texas, to pursue another closed hotel. The property provided Patel with experience in updating electrical and plumbing for the hotel site. After renovating it and opening for business, he sold it in 1982 and moved to Mississippi where his cousin lived.
“And he talked to me and said he had land in Vicksburg, Mississippi -- in 1983 of March,” said Patel. “I liked that land and we decided to build that hotel. A franchise hotel complete with 50 rooms.”
They built the hotel from the ground up and it was open by the December of 1983. ”The hotel was very successful, running high occupancy- very profitable,” said Patel.
Patel and his family decided to continue building franchise hotels instead of independent properties. Their franchises include Comfort Inn, Best Western, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites, LaQuinta Inn & Suites, Home2Suites, Comfort Suites and Holiday Inn Express & Suites.
“Our development efforts are focused on partnerships with major brand that offer strong support, best loyalty programs, most innovative in product and technology and these are the brands that give us most gratification as owners and operators,” Patel said.
Patel describes his company is unique because it does not rely on third-party construction companies or management companies for hotel development. Instead, Patel has his own construction company SHS Development LLC located in Flowood and oversees its own properties in-house.
“We build ourselves. We don’t do a third party. We manage our own hotels,” said Patel. ”We do have our own construction company, own management company.”
Southern Hospitality currently employs more than 400 workers but is still able to keep the business in the family. Patel says that his son and his daughter and their spouses are all in the business.
“We are a family-run company because the second generation is now in the business. They’ve been born and raised here,” he said.
Southern Hospitality Services is planning to build five more properties within the next three years. Currently their most popular hotel is the Hampton Inn located at the San Francisco airport in San Francisco, California.
When asked to give advice to future entrepreneurs, Patel said his best advice to future entrepreneurs is to work hard.
“If you have a dream, if you want to be some kind of successful in this country, you work hard and make your own condition. I came from India at a very young age and studied my business and now we have a big company. It takes a long time. It doesn’t come easy,” he advises.
Patel said he studies the business, location and market of each hotel location which contributes to his hotels’ 95 percent success rate.
“As our evolution record shows, we have carefully structured our growth as both owners and operators of first class hotels in markets we represent. We continue to enjoy long and healthy partnerships with all of our Franchisor partners. We have been strategically developing our management skills and company to be ahead of our physical developments,” Patel said.” The end result being that we are structurally, financially, and physically strong and are among the leaders of our industry. We have a great relationship with the banker and franchise people. We care about the customer. That’s what we teach our employees.”