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Black investors betting on hospitality market, growing Black travel industry

William Huston and his team at Bay Street Capital Holdings and a Black couple in Memphis have recently purchased properties in the U.S. and Europe.

Black investors betting on hospitality market, growing Black travel industry
William Huston, founder of Bay Street Capital Holdings, based in Palo Alto, California. LINKEDIN PHOTO

Amid market volatility, Black-owned investors are turning to the hospitality market and targeting Black travellers looking for spaces and vacation hubs that share their values and identify with them, according to the Guardian.

William Huston, the founder and chief investment officer of Bay Street Capital Holdings, a California-based wealth-management firm that invests in a portfolio of BIPOC businesses, says his firm’s portfolio has remained valued at US$85 million despite fluctuations in the S&P 500 index since October 2022.

“Black travellers in America spend US$109 billion on leisure travel annually, and only US$1 billion goes to Black-owned hotels,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.

Of the 58,000 hotels in the U.S., 0.8 per cent are owned by people of colour. In addition, less than one per cent of the money spent on leisure travel by all African Americans goes to Black-owned businesses, according to the Guardian.

Huston and his team are gaining market share by investing in minority-owned hospitality businesses and hotels across the country. It launched Resthaven Properties, a collection of Black-owned luxury vacation properties, a group of members-only boutique hotels to assuage Black travellers with a value-based proposition that meets their needs.

Currently, the hospitality industry accounts for 20 per cent of Bay Street's portfolio. For example, there is a high-end rental in Venice Beach, California, that is well-liked by influencers and people working in the entertainment business, as well as up-and-coming resorts in fashionable locations like Portugal and the Lake Tahoe ski resort.

Bay Street Capital Holdings has also created Unified, an app that links influencers with vacation businesses to promote new locations to fresh audiences.

“We wanted to add a layer of intentionality to the business. We’re never going to compete with Marriott, but in five years, people will know about us. And they will know the names of some of the other hotels that we don’t own, but we support, and that’s just as impactful.”

Huston grew up in Alabama and has been everywhere from Tennessee to Tokyo. He’s also a classically trained piano player, started a call centre in the Philippines and El Salvador, and has been to more than 20 countries. Read more in this Q&A.

Norland James and his wife, Dr. Amina Gilyard James. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

Black couple boss up with Quality Inn acquisition for $3.85M

Norland James and his wife, Dr. Amina Gilyard James, recently purchased a Quality Inn franchise for $3.85 million in Memphis, Tennessee. The 70-room property is situated in the Raleigh neighbourhood of the city — a growing area of late due to corporate expansion and an influx of jobs.

With help from a group of first-time African American hotel investors, the duo acquired the property after previous investments in two Hilton-branded hotels as limited partners and passive investors between 2019 and 2021, according to Black Enterprise.

“We learned a lot as limited partners, and we just knew that we wanted to buy our very own hotel in 2022. Ultimately, our goal is to acquire more midscale hotel properties in secondary markets in the Southern and Midwest regions of the country,” Gilyard James said in an interview.

Norland started investing in real estate while serving in the army at Fort Bragg. He received an MBA from the University of Phoenix. His love for real estate has grown as he has diversified his holdings with hotels and short-term rental homes.

Amina contributes equally as much. She is a successful serial entrepreneur with a doctorate in human and organizational learning from George Washington University. Her areas of expertise are organization development/effectiveness and hospitality. In addition, she has approximately 10 years of real estate management and investment expertise and is a seasoned consultant, speaker and investor.

“We know this will be a success,” Norland told Black Enterprise. “We already have plans and consultants in place to increase customer satisfaction, implement sales and marketing strategies, and enhance property condition.”