Aspiring hotelier Emma Claire Spring wins $ 50,000 pitch contest | WSU Insider
It wasn’t the hopscotch and the hoops that intrigued Emma Claire Spring (’21) as a little girl growing up in Whitefish, MT, he played at “the hotel”.
When her family had friends over night, she would imagine the guest room to be a hotel room and add her own touch of hospitality by spraying an air freshener around the room and leaving a candy on it. pillow. In college, she made lists of basic necessities like shampoo and linens, and placed bogus orders online to outfit a boutique lodging facility she had long been thinking of.
Her childhood dreams came true on June 5, 2021, when she won the She has a deal (SHaD) hotel pitch competition and $ 50,000 in equity.
A recent WSU graduate School of Hospitality Business Management, Spring drew on his sales training to formulate a business case for the conversion of a Delta hotel located in Chantilly, Virginia. His company, Celeste Companies, focused on renovating the existing property to add meeting space and an American-style casual dining concept.
Lead to the field
“I knew very little about real estate or finance,” Spring said, “but because my hospitality program is immersed in Carson College of Business, I had a solid hands-on business background to draw upon. “
One of those experiences was going to a conference in New York with WSU Host Club Sigma Iota. It was there that she heard about the competition.
In a breakout session, panelist Tracy L. Prigmore spoke to attendees about the pitch competition sponsored by SHaD, an educational real estate investment platform that creates pathways to owning and developing a hotel for young women.
The opportunity immediately caught Spring’s attention.
“Who would have thought that a program in this niche and specific to my dream would exist for young women? It wasn’t a question of if but when I would get in there, ”she said.
She entered the 2021 competition and spent several months preparing by attending SHaD’s Multi-Modular Educational Series, which provides mentoring and educates applicants on research, assessment, funding, and presentation of a deal. hotel investment.
Financial modeling was the most difficult to master, Spring said. Typically, investors create financial models by looking at a hotel’s past performance, but the global pandemic has disrupted financial data. “I really had to take the time to understand the data and predict future performance,” she said.
She also relied on Prigmore, who accompanied her throughout the process.
“Emma Claire’s pitch stood out for its eloquence,” said Prigmore. “Her presentation included all of the key elements needed to persuade investors to act, and she elegantly exuded confidence throughout the pitch, including the Q&A.”
Spring hits home with proposed hotel acquisition
Spring had 15 minutes to convince the judges why his hotel offer was the top pick for the $ 50,000 grand prize.
His winning proposal included negotiating Marriott’s key money and identifying a management company to increase operational efficiency. “To create an advantage for my investors, the property would undergo a major renovation with a budget of $ 10.7 million for capital improvements,” she said. “The conversion of ownership from a 232-key, select-service Holiday Inn to a full-service Delta by Marriott for $ 27 million was also well below replacement cost.”
Spring, who presented solo, beat four other teams from Cornell University, San Diego State University, Michigan State University and Zigurat Global Institute of Technology.
“For a solo pitcher to win, it just shows that if you want something enough and are willing to work for it, big things can happen,” Prigmore said.
“I’m really hard on myself and I didn’t even think I would qualify for the final,” Spring said. “I have gained a lot of self-confidence throughout the process and I am so grateful for the practical knowledge that most people do not acquire until much later in their careers.”
Although another buyer has outbid its offer, Spring will keep its equity financing and invest it in a hotel project identified by TLT Solutions, Prigmore’s real estate investment company. Spring also works as a junior market manager for Inspirato, a luxury hotel company providing members with exclusive access to some of the most luxurious homes, hotels and hotel experiences in the world.
She plans to stay in the hotel real estate business and travel the world before realizing her childhood dream of owning her own hotel investment company.