As more Americans safely return to the skies and begin their long-awaited summer vacations, hotel owner and commercial real estate investor Davonne Reaves is rolling out the red carpet for travelers looking to support Black businesses.
Reaves is not new to hospitality with 15 years of experience under her belt. As owner of the commercial real estate consulting firm, The Vonne Group, she’s used her know-how to help solve what she believes is a problem in the industry. After discovering a report that African Americans spent over $109 billion on travel in 2019 while owning less than two percent of America’s hotels, Reaves made it her mission to connect the dots and be the change she wanted to see.
The 34-year-old Georgia State University grad, along with her business partner, Jessica Myers, and a group of millennial investors, made history in January after acquiring a Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel in El Reno, Oklahoma for $8.3 million. The two are believed to be the youngest African American women to ever co-own a major hotel chain property.
The Oklahoma hotel joins a growing list of Black-owned hotel properties including: The Downtown Clifton in Tucson, Arizona, the Oak Bluffs Inn at Martha’s Vineyard, the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore and the five-star Salamander Resort & Spa just outside of Washington D.C., to name a few.
After acquiring her hotel, Reaves set another big goal: to create 221 new Black hotel owners and investors by the end of the year. Her answer was the launch of StayBlackExperience.com, a website that provides a comprehensive and up-to-date list of Black-owned hotels and bed and breakfast locations. Visitors can also learn information about the owners and their properties, and book travel at the properties.
Reaves hopes the #StayBlackExperience will inspire African Americans and others to purposely support Black-owned businesses in the hotel industry through the summer and beyond.
“I want more people to know about these beautiful spaces, and more importantly, the need for more targeted support,” Reaves said. “These property owners need that to survive and to thrive in the hospitality industry.”
Reaves is also paying it forward by sharing her knowledge with those who want to get into the commercial real estate business. Her enterprise, The Vonne Group, offers courses on how to become successful in the hospitality industry.
Go to StayBlackExperience.com to discover and reserve your spot at Black-owned lodging venues across the U.S.