011 | Raising Capital, EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, and Prefab Hotels with Dan Rama

Dinesh “Dan” Rama is Co-Founder, Partner/Designated Broker of NewGen Worldwide – a real estate investment advisory company that works with owners and investors in all aspects of the hospitality business. The firm provides services for the sale and acquisition of lodging properties, consulting, hotel asset management, and hotel litigation support. NewGen also owns and operates several hotels in the Southwest with affiliations with Hilton, InterContinental Hotels, Accor, and Choice Hotels.

LL11-Dan_RamaDan is a second generation hotelier and learned all aspects of the business by helping his family, from cleaning toilets to operations. After college, Dan was the director of operations for a number of hotels for a small private equity firm in memphis. The first property he bought was a 24 room independent in Arizona, and he continued to grow his hotel portfolio and expanded into restaurants – he had a master license agreement with Red Brick Pizza and grew that segment to 13 stores at its peek.

Dan continued his journey in the business and obtained his real estate license in 2000 while working with Bob Apostle and Robert Fitzgerald for their firm, Apostle Fitzgerald. Bob and Robert were former senior brand executives that had helped to shape the Travelodge and Ramada brands respectively in the 80’s, and that experience was invaluable to Dan’s continued growth. In 2007, Dan Co-Founded NewGen Commercial Realty, and in 2008, he Co-Founded NewGen Worldwide.

Resources & Links

In the News

Asian Hospitality Magazine – NewGen reveals strategy with Kentucky acquisitions

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Membership and Service

Dan has served as an AAHOA Regional Ambassador for the Southwest region for many years, and in 2011, he was elected to the AAHOA Board of Directors as Southwest Regional Director, a role that he held for 4 years. He is also an active member of the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, IHG Owners Association and Arizona Board of Realtors.

Dan believes that, if you are succeeding, you have to help other people to succeed also. Dan says that part of his business is hospitality, that hospitality includes helping people – and one way to help others is to teach them about the hospitality. He attributes his involvement with AAHOA and other industry associations to being an integral part of his growth as a hotelier.

[spp-tweet “‘If you are succeeding, you have to help other people to succeed also.’ ~Dan Rama”]

Business Partnerships

Choose partners that have the same mindset and goals as you. Make sure you are aligned. Set the expectations up front and put it in writing!

What makes an effective leader?

You must get “buy in” from others. Once you have their buy in, if you truly believe in your goals, your team will believe they are attainable. Don’t lead by the whip – Lead by example.  To create buy in, you have to create a sense of purpose and inspire a shared vision. You also have to challenge the process – just because that’s the way it’s being done, doesn’t mean that’s the right way to do it. You have to enable other to do their jobs.  As Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” Make it safe for others to speak up.

[spp-tweet “‘If you truly believe in your goals,  your team will believe they are attainable.’ ~Dan Rama”]

Are leaders are born or made?

Dan believes leaders are made through experience.

[spp-tweet “‘Don’t lead by the whip – Lead by example.’ ~Dan Rama”]

About NewGen Worldwide

NewGen has four arms, including:

  • Capital division which has offices in Phoenix, AZ and China
  • Advisory division which sells hotels and also brings in foreign investors to build large, complex developments with American partners
  • Holdings division which is primarily hotels, but also includes shares in tech companies
  • Development division to develop hotels.

NewGen is also developing a process to build hotels quicker using a modular concept. Their first hotel built in a factory using a prefab concept is a Motel 6. This innovative concept will create scaleability and reduce development time and cost. Their first property using this concept reduced the build time from the industry average of 9 months down to 5 months.

Raising capital through the EB-5 program

The USCIS Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Through this program, foreign nationals who invest money in the United States can obtain a green card. NewGen’s EB-5 projects have not only created jobs in Targeted Employment Areas (an area with high unemployment or a rural area), they stimulate the economy and help workers obtain citizenship.

[spp-tweet “EB-5 has made us the company that we are today’ ~Dan Rama”]

Common pitfalls that hoteliers face and what things can they do to avoid them

Dan cited undercapitalization, not truly understanding your franchise agreement, and not fully understanding PIP requirements as being the most common pitfalls. He recommends that you do a feasibility study before you build a hotel – don’t just build one because your friend has one across the street. It’s better to spend $10 more per sq ft for a better location.  As the saying goes, the success of most hotels is due to three things – location, location, location.

Tips for improving hotel performance

Keep an eye on your reviews because most guests look at them before booking a room. Create a service program and follow up with your guests. Check your rates. Do yield management. Make sure your product is inline with other products in your region. Get involved outside of your front desk – engage with the community, the chamber of commerce, city government, local businesses, etc. Empower your employees to market your hotel – give your housekeepers, shuttle drivers, etc. business cards and create a process for rewarding your staff for referrals.

The future of technology in hotels

Technology is going to help create new amenities at a lower cost to hotel owners. Guests will be able to stream their own content on your equipment. Text services to communicate with guests real-time. Technology is getting cheaper, but we can’t move away from it. However, you can’t forget about customer service. Don’t hide behind technology at the expense of the customer.

Defining moment

Being elected to serve as the AAHOA Southwest Regional Director in July of 2011.  Dan stated that it gave him a whole new perspective of the hotel business, outside of the shell/bubble he lives in, to a national perspective.  Getting involved in advocacy in DC.  It was a turning point in his life.

Advice for a 22 year old version of yourself

Do what you (like to) do the most and you’ll always succeed. It’s the day that you hate doing what you’re doing that you will collapse. Enhance those skills of what you like to do.

Parting Advice

Always live your life how you think you should live your life by doing what you love the best.

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Thanks for Listening!

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Until the next …

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