Luxury-end hotel brokerage gains a foothold in the limited-service segment

In a bold move designed to gain an entrance into the mid-scale and limited-service investment sales market, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels announced Monday that it has acquired Atlanta-based ThompsonCalhounFair Hotel Brokerage.

Arthur Adler, managing director and CEO-Americas for Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels — which historically has focused on the upscale and luxury segment and last year recorded $5.2 billion in global transactions — explained the rationale for the acquisition during a press conference at the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

“Earlier this year we made a conscious decision that we wanted to serve our clients in the U.S. for all property types, all the way from economy, mid-priced and limited-service — and do it the same way that we handle clients around the world,” Adler told reporters as they sipped champagne in a suite on the 29th floor of the Waldorf.

“We wanted to find a way to serve clients who have mixed portfolios of hotels and serve them seamlessly,” Adler continued. “We did a lot of research, and there is one solution that made the most sense by far. [ThompsonCalhounFair] operates their business in select-service hotels exactly the way we operate our business for full-service and luxury hotels.”

Under terms of the deal, the firm’s three founding principals, H. Keith Thompson, Al Calhoun and Mark Fair will continue to operate the business under the Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels platform as managing directors of the firm’s select service division. All employees and agents of ThompsonCalhounFair will stay on under the new structure.

Founded in 2000, the principals of ThompsonCalhounFair have sold over 350 hotels in more than 35 states at a value in excess of $4 billion. The inventory of mid-scale and limited-service hotels — the so-called select service segment in which ThompsonCalhounFair is a mainstay — represents 43% of U.S. hotels, more than quadrupling the playing field for Jones Lang LaSalle. By contrast, the luxury and upscale segment represents only 9% of U.S. hotel properties.

In prepared remarks, the founders of ThompsonCalhounFair explained that the company’s original vision — to start a hotel brokerage company that would bring institutional-quality representation to the specialized transaction needs of select-service hotel owners — successfully filled a void in the industry. “Our plan exceeded our expectations greatly due to our clients’ response to our unique way of marketing select-service hotels,” wrote Al Calhoun, now managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels’ select service division.

“It became apparent to us that to accelerate the growth of this proven concept, we would need to offer services, specialized research and global distribution channels that exceeded our immediate capability,” added Calhoun. “Jones Lang LaSalle was the first choice for us.”

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