Hospitality Consultant with Todd Wynne-Parry

How Does Working With A Hospitality Consultant Actually Work? With Todd Wynne-Parry of Horwath HTL

Episode Overview

Episode Topic: Join us in this episode of ‘TravelPreneur‘ as we dive into the world of hospitality consulting with Todd Wynne-Parry, the Managing Director of Horwath HTL. Explore the unique value that Horwath HTL brings to the industry, their approach to staying ahead in global hospitality trends, and Todd’s vision for the future. Learn how this global leader provides comprehensive solutions and maintains impartiality in guiding clients.

Lessons You’ll Learn: Throughout the episode, you’ll gain insights into specialized hospitality consulting. Discover the value of Horwath HTL’s services, staying on top of global trends, and fostering innovation in a global consulting firm. Understand the pivotal role of impartial guidance in the industry’s success and receive advice from Todd for aspiring consultants and professionals based on his extensive experiences.

About Our Guest: Our guest, Todd Wynne-Parry, is the Managing Director of Horwath HTL, known for his profound understanding of international and local nuances in the industry. With a passion for innovation and transformative solutions, he’s a dynamic force in hospitality consulting.

Topics Covered: In this episode, we explore Horwath HTL’s expertise, highlighting their unique value, and comprehensive solutions, and delve into global hospitality trends and how Horwath HTL remains at the forefront, leveraging their international network and fostering innovation. Unveils Todd’s vision for Horwath HTL and the industry, adaptation to technological advancements, and advice for aspiring professionals.

Our Guest: Meet Todd Wynne-Parry: A Pioneer in Hotel Development

Todd Wynne-Parry boasts a remarkable career spanning over three decades in hotel development. His journey includes influential leadership roles at major hotel brands, including AutoCamp and Two Roads Hospitality. Notably, Todd’s expertise has left an indelible mark on the development efforts of IHG, Starwood, and Marriott in the Asia Pacific region, as well as Two Roads Hospitality on a global scale.

His career kicked off as a hotel consultant at Laventhol & Horwath’s San Diego office, the precursor to Horwath HTL. Today, Todd serves as the Managing Director of Horwath HTL, where he leads the North American Outdoor Hospitality practice. With 52 global offices, Horwath HTL is the largest independent hospitality consultancy.

Todd’s academic credentials include an MBA from the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management. He further contributes to the industry as a member of the advisory council of the American Glamping Association. During his leisure time, Todd finds solace in pursuits such as fly fishing and embarking on adventures across the western United States in his vintage 1953 Airstream.

Hospitality Consultant with  Todd Wynne-Parry
Hospitality Consultant with  Todd Wynne-Parry of Horwath HTL

Episode Transcript

Todd Wynne-Parry: The general manager or CEO perspective, the great ones in that role, they all have one common trait, and that common trait is they can speak to the dishwasher, the room attendant, and the $100 million investor, all with the same aplomb, with the same level of respect. When you work in hospitality and you’re working with the dishwashers and the cooks and the housekeepers and whoever else might be in there, you’ve got to be a little humble. For a lot of the college kids and the kids want to get into this sector, take a bite of humble pie, go and do the work with everybody at all different levels.

Megha McSwain: Welcome to TravelPreneur, the weekly business show for the travel industry. I’m your host, Houston-based travel journalist Megha McSwain. Each episode, we’ll be exploring what it takes to thrive as a business owner in the travel industry. From conversations with leading travel business executives and industry-focused venture capitalists to exploring the innovations that are shaping the next generation of travel business, if it impacts the travel industry, we cover it here on TravelPreneur. Greetings travel enthusiasts, and welcome to another episode of TravelPreneur. I’m your host, Megha McSwain. Today we have a distinguished guest with us, Todd Wynne-Parry, the managing director of Haworth, a global leader in hospitality consulting. Hello, Todd. Thanks for joining us today.

Todd Wynne-Parry: Hi, Megha. Great to be here. Thank you.

Megha McSwain: Todd, Horwath HTL is renowned globally for its specialized consulting services in the hospitality industry. Can you elaborate on the unique value that the company brings to its clients, and how your team’s international experience, combined with expert local knowledge, sets you apart from other consulting firms?

Todd Wynne-Parry: I think that’s it. You just said it. Actually. We’ve got 58 offices around the globe and in all of the offices, our consultants are specifically dedicated to the hotel, travel, tourism, leisure, market, and sectors of the industries in their respective countries. They’re all experienced in market feasibility studies, the legal, the accounting, all of the aspects of hotel development and hotel operation. And they’re also members of that community. So they’re involved with the local tourism associations, the national tourism authorities. And we all work together because we’re always having clients that are from one country doing business in another country. And so, yeah, it’s a great network and again, very focused on this particular sector of the industry.

Megha McSwain: That’s a lot of coverage around the globe. When did the company launch?

Todd Wynne-Parry: Good question. So, the original company was Horwath. And Horwath International had been around for over 100 years. And in the US there was a company called Laventhol and Horwath. And in the 80s, prior to the 90s, there was always the big eight accounting firms and Laventhol and Horwath was number nine, not quite in the big eight, but number nine. And they were the accountants to the Waldorf Astoria in New York since about 1920. So, in the 80s, all the accounting firms started to move towards having an adjacent consulting practice. So, Arthur Andersen did management. Price Waterhouse I think, did technology. And because Lapthorne Horwath had always been working with hotels as one of their major client bases, it was obvious that they would move into consulting to the hotel industry, which they did. And anyway, over time that evolved. And the once was the company called Horwath and Horwath International or Laventhol and Horwath here in the US morphed to become Horwath HTL. And that’s the global enterprise.

Megha McSwain: And with the focus solely on hotel, tourism, and leisure consulting, how do you provide comprehensive solutions that cover every aspect of hotel, real estate, tourism, leisure development? Obviously, you have a lot of experience, you’ve got a lot of people, but what are some of those comprehensive solutions?

Todd Wynne-Parry: Sure. So, in the case of undeveloped or developing world, we did do a lot of work. We have done a lot of work and still do a lot of work with, again, the travel associations, the national tourism organizations, and setting up how they’re going to do their tourism. And when I was living in Hong Kong, in Singapore, we did work around growth in Bali and how to manage that growth in tourism there. We did work for the Singapore government on an island called Bintan Island, and it was really providing a professional approach to research and analysis and then advice around growth, using other examples from around the world and current comparable situations. In the more developed world, it’s a little different. We end up being more involved on the hotel sector, where we’re providing really from A to Z, all the way from early development, feasibility studies, site analysis, looking at how a hotel could be successful in a particular location, identifying its comp set and really projecting out and valuing that project or that hotel before it’s even built. And then as the hotel is operating, providing asset management work, I just finished off a repositioning on a property in Palm Springs where the property had suffered, with new product coming up right around it, and it hadn’t put enough capital expense into the physical asset. So, what was the next dollar of CapEx that should be spent to move that property up in its competitive set and penetrate that market better, and then that could eventually move on to an asset management role, where we’re monitoring the manager and we’re monitoring the asset and what CapEx is going into that property long term.

Megha McSwain: You know, that brings me to the next question. The hospitality industry is continually evolving. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up. There’s so much technology. There’s mean. Social media has completely changed things. In your experience, what are some of the current trends shaping the global hospitality landscape, and how does Horwath HTL stay at the forefront of these trends?

Todd Wynne-Parry: Great question. Two in grad school, my thesis was just that it was sort of the evolution of the hotel industry because it went from when I was a kid in the 70s and and early 80s. The CEOs of all the major hotel companies were really out of the food and beverage area, graduated from Lucerne or Cornell, and you became a great chef or became a great food and beverage manager, or just a general operations manager. And then you evolved up to. Be these great CEOs of the big companies. By the time the 80s came around and people started segmenting, if you were a hotel company, you needed to have something in the economy sector, something in the service sector. Extended stay three-star or four-star, five star luxury resort. You started having a whole breadth of brands working in different niches. So, with that or simultaneously came a change in who the CEOs were. They started coming out of the retail sector, people who dealt with multiple brands and different niches. And how do you work with that and what’s the next niche that we need to fill? And so that sort of has formed where we are currently with the bigger hotel companies anyway, constantly trying to fill different niches. That’s why you have Marriott with 38 brands and Hyatt with 28 brands, and they all have these different brands. It’s like, who? What is a hire? You don’t know because there’s so many different iterations of that company and that is not really changing.

Todd Wynne-Parry: They still keep adding brands. In fact, I just saw a couple of new ones come out today. So the state of play right now is that these companies are just getting bigger and bigger. You saw Wyndham potentially being purchased by choice or vice versa, which would be a huge consolidation. I think that will continue to happen. But luckily between the millennials and Gen Z, they’ve really pushed hotels. In the early days, it was independent lifestyle boutique hotels that were really appealing to the millennials, that didn’t want to stay in a property that looked like every other place in the world, in every other city. They wanted something different or unique. So then you saw the rise of of Thompson Hotels, which I worked on, and W hotels and Ace Hotels Huxton a number of brands started emerging that really appealed to a design sense, but also a different service approach, being served by people that kind of look and act and are of your genre and not working off a standard operating procedure. Eventually, all the big companies bought all those brands. Yeah. And so we’ll see how that happens, doesn’t it? Yeah, yeah. And so we’ll see how they do moving forward. But the millennials are now having kids. And I think their needs are a little different. And everybody’s working home. So from home or remotely. And so we’re seeing differences in travel trends where in the old days there was bleisure business and leisure.

Todd Wynne-Parry: And people would stay Friday and Saturday night and then maybe kick on and stay Saturday and Sunday night or Friday night and Saturday night. And we’re seeing a decline in that because people are they don’t want to travel, they want to be home, they want to do their things at home. And so business is business and they’ll go on Monday or Tuesday. They’ll be back on Wednesday or Thursday. And the business and the leisure part aren’t quite blending so much anymore, because people want to go and do the things they want to do, not necessarily in that place. So, I think that’s a change. And the one constant, and this is why I’ve pivoted my career to the outdoor sector, is that people want to be outside more and they want to be more in touch with nature. They want to do different things. They don’t be stuck on a golf course. If they’re going to go outside, they want to hike or bike or ski or do something differently outside, and they want to live near that. And when they go on their vacation, they want to be in that environment so they can do those activities. So, I think that’s the big change. And who knows about Gen Z yet? We haven’t really figured them out, but I’m sure they’re going to follow in that trend of really wanting to get back and involved in something that is closer to nature and not an urban environment.

Megha McSwain: As the managing director, how do you foster a culture of innovation within the company, encouraging your team to continuously seek these new solutions and approaches?

Todd Wynne-Parry: Well, my case is a little unique because I’m about the several of our consultants are doing some outdoor hospitality work around the globe. I’m just working on a project with my counterpart in Greece, and I’m advising, along with my counterparts in Australia, in this sector. So, everything I do is innovative because no one’s really consulted in the sector before. So, it’s a lot of new learnings about how to value a project that is in the outdoor hotel industry, how to predict its cash flow, how to, you know, position the property correctly and get the occupancy and the ADR right, and make sure that you’re building the facilities that the demand wants. In looking at the kind of projects that I’m looking at in the outdoor sector, anyway, we have STR stats that give you how every hotel is doing and stuff like that. Most of the projects I’m working, working on, there isn’t a competitive property in the area. There’s nothing that really is similar. If you’ve got a bunch of tents or you’re airstreams or tiny houses on the side of a hill, there’s nothing in a 60-mile radius that’s even anywhere similar to that. So we’ve had to go back to the old style of how we used to do feasibility work, by talking with general managers and operators and sales managers in a marketplace to figure out what’s happening in the that market, what are the dynamics, where’s the labor force coming from? How much are they getting paid? What are they willing to work for? What’s the seasonality? How does that work? That becomes almost more important than what the room rate is because we need to fill those soft periods. So, we end up going back to the old-school way of figuring out these businesses and how they’ll be successful. So guess it’s innovative and. Doing it the old-fashioned way.

Megha McSwain: It’s a mix. Yeah, it’s a mix of both. Sometimes that works.

Todd Wynne-Parry: Yeah.

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Todd Wynne-Parry: So, I mean, it’s always been our mission to be that guiding force and that one of very few professional companies that cover the globe focused on this industry. I think moving forward, our global chairman is a guy named John Freed based here in the US. And he’s added, I think, 7 or 8 new offices just in a short period of time here, really trying to establish the brand in places where we’re not already Central and South America. We’ve got presence, but we could certainly do more in the Caribbean as well. We’ve got some, but we could do more. And then throughout the Middle East and Africa is another area where I think our professional approach to hospitality will help these burgeoning economies. And if you look at Saudi Arabia, who’s seeing oil as a finite thing as opposed to a never-ending thing, as it’s turned to tourism? And so we’re right there trying to help them out in that process as well.

Megha McSwain: Interesting. And how does Horwath HTL embrace innovation and leverage emerging technologies, if at all?

Todd Wynne-Parry: Yeah, I mean, again, in terms of my sector, it’s technology has been huge in that because of technology, people can work remotely. Therefore, as we’re looking at properties and we’re developing facilities, recommendations for properties, we’re encouraging. You need to make space. That’s community workspace. People want to work together alone. They don’t just want to be stuck in their room. And so that’s all based on technology. The fact that somebody might go on vacation, spend a week, weekend someplace and go, you know what? I really, I don’t actually have to get back to the city. Why am I going back home? I’ll add on another couple of nights. I can do my work here and work remotely, so that’s great. So that is creating another demand segment, which is that digital nomad. And then for us it’s we’re very happy that technology is there because when we do come to a market that maybe no one’s contributing to in that marketplace, what are we going to do? Well, we can go online and we can look at what everybody is doing and what they’re charging through the various OTAs or their own property website, and we can figure out exactly where the pricing is going to be moving forward month by month, weekend week, weekday, all that stuff. Yeah, I mean, we use technology a lot and it’s changed the way we’re able to work and it’s made our work more accurate and all the information more accessible, that’s for sure.

Megha McSwain: As a seasoned professional in the hospitality consulting sector, what advice would you offer to aspiring consultants or industry professionals looking to make a significant impact in the field up and comers?

Todd Wynne-Parry: Oh that’s great. Like all Gen Xers like myself, we always say, just get off the phone, go do stuff. That’s the first thing. The third thing I would say in terms of because I look at resumes quite a bit and for me, internships are great and that’s fine and I appreciate that. But I really look for people that have worked in the sector, really might not have a full-time time for maybe 10 or 20 hours during while they’re going to university or school or maybe through a summer somewhere, but really worked at a front desk, waited on a table, did all of those things that make our business and the service aspect of our business really doing hospitality. That’s what I like, and that’s me in particular. When I look at a resume, I want to see somebody that actually did the work that this industry is all about. I mean, hospitality is a labor-intensive industry. Hotel management is all about managing people, your employees, as well as your guests and your owners. But having that ability to interact with people, to provide service, to have the heart of an innkeeper and like, serve people and like to do those things. But really actually having done it, not just studied it from the outside, but actually been in the trenches and done the work and then be a student of it obviously is great. Anyway, that’s my advice is go get a job, go and time to slow down. If you really are interested in consulting in this particular sector anyway, go do a ski season. You got time, take a ski season, work the lifts or work in a restaurant, or work in a hotel and see what it’s like to do a ski season, or do a summer season on Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard or whatever. I mean, those people love to have college kids come and work the season. You might not have great accommodation, you might not have a normal summertime or wintertime, but the memories will last forever. And the experience is directly applicable to this work that I do.

Megha McSwain: It’s so interesting you say that because in all the shows we’ve done, so many people have said it comes down to hospitality. At the end of the day, it’s still a people business. I mean, it’s you can have all the technology, you can have all the social media, you can sit behind a desk and do all of this. But at the end of the day, you have to be able to have this thing inside you being hospitable. That’s really what it comes down to. So it’s so interesting you say that and I think that’s wonderful advice.

Todd Wynne-Parry: The other thing I would add to that is I’ve worked with a lot of great. Developers in the sector, and they all have one common trait all the best developers work for bad developers, and I’ve worked for good developers, but all the best developers that I’ve worked with and known through the years. One common trait, and that is a very fastidious attention to detail. I’m not a great developer, and maybe that’s because I don’t have that particular trait, but they are involved in everything. And then from a general manager or CEO perspective, I’ve worked with a lot of them and the great ones in that role. They all have one common trait, and that common trait is they can speak to the dishwasher, the room attendant, and the $100 million investor, all with the same aplomb, with the same level of respect for the other person all the way up the chain. So I think when you work in hospitality and you’re working with the dishwashers and the cooks and the housekeepers and whoever else might be in there, you realize that you got to be a little humble, but for the grace of God, you might be doing that same work and with pride. And they’re great people as well. And so think for a lot of the college kids and the kids want to get into this sector, take a bite of humble pie, go and do the work with everybody at all different levels.

Megha McSwain: Really, really great advice, Todd. Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us and for taking the time today. Let our listeners know where they can get in touch with you and where they can learn more about your company.

Todd Wynne-Parry: Sure. So you can get a hold of me on either my website, which would be, and there’s a sector under services and I’m an outdoor advisory services is on the dropdown and you can contact me at I’m on LinkedIn Todd Wynne a unique name for sure.

Megha McSwain: Well great. Thank you so much to our listeners. Please follow and subscribe for more episodes of TravelPreneur and Todd, we look forward to speaking to you again and just keeping up with Horwath HTL.

Todd Wynne-Parry: Thank you, Megha. Appreciate it.

Megha McSwain: Thank you. You’ve been listening to TravelPreneur by Make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast listening platform so you never miss a new episode, and we’ll see you again soon on TravelPreneur.