Cal State Fullerton accounting alumnus Bhavesh Patel joined Newport Beach-based T2 Hospitality in January 2017, serving the hospitality management conglomerate as chief portfolio officer.
Patel’s employer has more than $1 billion in assets and is growing to become a leader in Orange County and beyond, with 16 hotels in its portfolio and more in the pipeline.
The hospitality executive discusses with us his career and current role, opportunities for young professionals in the hotel industry, and his plans to give back to his alma mater and industry through membership in the Center for Entertainment and Hospitality Management (EHM) Advisory Board.
In your role as chief portfolio officer at T2 Hospitality, what are your job functions and responsibilities?
My primary responsibility is to oversee our operating hotels and strategically partner with a third-party management company to ensure we stay ahead of our competition, revenue and profit goals are being achieved, and the assets are being preserved, and making sure our associates have a great work environment. I am also responsible for the growth of the portfolio, from recommending brands for our new developments to participating in the underwriting of a market.
Regarding your career path, from your 1992 graduation from Cal State Fullerton to your current role. What were some of the highlights?
My first job after graduation was at Glendale Federal Bank, which I got through a posting at Cal State Fullerton’s Career Center. Shortly after, I joined a clothing manufacturing company as controller.
In 1996, I caught the hospitality bug and joined Tarsadia Hotels, a family hotel company, as accounting manager and over my tenure of 15 years, was vice president of finance.
Soon after, I joined T2 Hospitality as chief portfolio officer. I’d say the highlights were definitely moments when I was able to rise to the next level and achieve some of my personal goals, but the greatest feeling was creating an integrated budgeting and forecasting tool and a loyal team.
What are a few of the big opportunities in the hotel industry today that current students and recent alumni should know about?
Hotels are seen by most as hourly job opportunities or part-time positions for students. The reality is that the hospitality industry provides multiple career opportunities in sales, marketing, finance, e-commerce, revenue management and hotel management. There are also many opportunities in such fields as design and development, IT, and foods and beverages.
Why should I be interested in the hotel business?
Individuals can apply their education to a specific role while having the opportunity for exposure to many other avenues and are able to pivot if they choose to venture into different areas that they may not have initially considered.
What’s one attribute that entrants into the hotel industry need to have to succeed today?
It is hard to pick just one, but if I had to, it would be attention to detail.
In an era of online lodging marketplaces such as Airbnb, what are some of the challenges that the traditional hotel industry is facing?
The common answer is the uneven playing field, as the hotel industry has to comply with state and city regulations that the likes of Airbnb and Sonder do not. The aforementioned business models do not require as much fixed labor to operate, so the profit models are different.
How is the industry reacting to these realities?
The industry is constantly educating the consumer on the difference between a hotel and Airbnb/Sonder, and lobby groups are always working hard to work with cities to change regulations to level the playing field.
What are your goals as a member of the EHM Advisory Board?
As a member of the advisory board, I would like to provide students with guidance and mentorship for their professional goals while providing greater exposure to the industry. And I want to make sure that the class syllabus and program requirements are relevant and appropriate for students as the hospitality industry evolves.
For More on Entertainment and Hospitality
For more on Mihaylo College’s entertainment and hospitality management academic program, please see the program description in the current catalog.
For more on the Center for Entertainment and Hospitality Management and opportunities in the field, visit them online or at SGMH 5357A. Or read more of our articles on entertainment and hospitality management.