The good news out of Gaylord’s move to sell its hotel assets to Marriott is this: At least we get to keep some of what’s ours.
We might as well get used to “Gaylord Opryland Hotel by Marriott,” but at least the Nashville-based entertainment company found it possible to hang on to its non-hotel assets, saving us from the ignominy of living in a town whose legendary music venue is the Yum! Brands Ryman Auditorium By Berkshire Hathaway. Gaylord will still own and operate the First Church of Country Music. Which is good because we’re still not quite used to the idea of “Tennessee Pride Sausage, a ConAgra Production.”
A total overhaul of our beloved hometown brands would have been a bridge too far.
In business-page terms, Gaylord is reorganizing itself as a real estate investment trust: It will still own the hotels, but Marriott will manage them.
It’s a sign of very tough times for the hospitality industry and the culmination of what industry observers have suspected for years: that Gaylord was ripe for a takeover of its lodging arm.
In a conference call sprinkled with the positive terminology of big business — “upside” and “synergy” and “revenue enhancements” — and the esoterica of transactional real estate (Did you know Gaylord picked up the land for its now-defunct Colorado project for a peppercorn? Not an actual one.), Gaylord CEO Colin Reed said this move was the company’s best option to make more money for its shareholders.
Reed said the plan ought to save Gaylord $20 million annually and was a far better option than selling the company whole cloth.
He boasted of Gaylord joining the Marriott “machine” and hinted that joining forces with the company’s lucrative rewards program will drive more non-convention traffic to its properties as the trend of declining convention traffic continues.
Don’t tell the $585 million building downtown about that last part.