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  • Strong Financial Partnership Leads to Hospitality Optimism

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    Robust client relationships help business continue during challenging times

    In mid-March, Americans stopped road-tripping with family. They stopped attending work conferences. And they stopped going out of town to attend sporting events. This shutdown of travel has been especially hard for hotels.
    RAM Hotels, which owns 25 hotels in Alabama and Georgia, including five in Montgomery, went from about 70 percent occupancy across its hotels before the COVID-19 crisis to about 24 percent. No one was traveling. “We went from having 30 to 35 staff running each hotel to essentially four individuals,” said Rinkesh Patel, CEO of RAM Hotels.
    Still, with travel stopped, the hotels were not coming close to making enough money to cover payroll cost and utilities, let alone service debt payments. Right away, Chase Hardy, a Montgomery- based business banker who manages the RAM Hotels relationship for Valley Bank, RAM’s biggest lending partner, called Patel. “They were the first to reach out to us,” Patel said. “They showed real, genuine concern for us.”
    Hardy and Patel talked about how to defer some payments, how to use reserve funds strategically, and how to maximize cash flow.
    As soon as the federal government launched the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to help businesses keep paying their workers’ salaries and keep them off unemployment, Hardy helped Patel get applications completed for the funds. “We were getting emails past midnight from our bankers,” Patel said. “There were constant changes, advisories being sent out, changes in the application.”
    By the first week in May, their PPP money had come in. From the applications they made through Valley Bank, they got $796,200 and were able to bring back 100 percent of their associates. Those associates now have more reservations to take and rooms to clean. RAM Hotels isn’t back to 70 percent capacity yet, but they are approaching 60 percent, Patel said.

    As things trend up, safety remains a top priority for RAM Hotels. Of the company’s 25 hotels, 10 are Hilton branded hotels, seven are Marriott branded hotels. According to Patel, both companies worked quickly to share new cleaning procedures, institute new safety guidelines and provide access to industrial-grade cleaning products. RAM Hotels is also working to upgrade its technology to be more touch-free.
    Patel says he feels good about what his business has accomplished during the crisis. “We are going to be more efficient in the future as a result of this,” he said. And Valley Bank will be there with him every step of the way.
    Contact Chase Hardy at Valley Bank to talk about how Valley can help your business grow while meeting challenges along the way. He can be reached at chardy@valley.com or 334-301-5918.
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