Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Faces of lockout: Browns' hotel manager
By James Walker
The NFL lockout has put players and owners in limbo. The ripple effects are also felt by people whose lives or business touch their teams. Here are their stories:
Bryan Shepherd is the general manager of Marriott hotel properties in Berea, Ohio. His hotels could lose revenue if the lockout eats into training camp.
According to Bryan Shepherd, the NFL lockout is tough. But the situation still has the potential to get worse.
The general manager of Marriott hotel properties in Berea, Ohio, where the Cleveland Browns train, lost his biggest business client for the spring because of the lockout. But Shepherd is hopeful he won't lose the substantial amount of revenue he receives from the Browns later this summer when the team fills up his hotels during training camp.
"The Browns are still holding the rooms but it keeps getting pushed back," Shepherd said. "Chances are rookie camp [will be lost]. So we've worked hard on replacing business we might not have from the Browns right now. But the toughest thing is to anticipate and be there for them when they need the rooms."
Marriott owns a Courtyard, TownePlace Suites and Residence Inn in Berea and has been a partner with the Browns since the team returned to the NFL in 1999. The practice facility is close by, making it easy for players to get to and from practice during the warm spring and summer months.
For offseason workouts and minicamps, the Browns rent an estimated 20 to 25 rooms at the Courtyard property for up to 45 days for drafted and undrafted rookies and a few veterans without residences in the Cleveland area. During training camp, which lasts about five weeks, the Browns have rented as many as 94 rooms depending, according to Shepherd. It is annually the hotel's most reliable source of revenue in an unstable economy.
Shepherd says he is fortunate the NFL lockout did not take place last year or two years ago, when the travel industry hit a major dry spell and the financial loss would have been tougher to absorb. Business travel is finally starting to show growth nationally and in the Cleveland area.
"In 2009 and 2010, most hotels saw anywhere between a 10-18 percent decrease in total occupancy and rate," Shepherd said. "In 2011, research is showing people are traveling more and companies are starting to let their associates travel more."
With the lockout reaching its 78th day and counting, it appears the start of training camp could be in jeopardy. Shepherd, like all NFL fans, hopes the players and owners can reach a timely agreement before it gets to that point.