Trica Jean-Baptiste began her career in communications working for Doral Hotels & Resorts and Le Parker Meridien. Though she didn’t go to school for hospitality, Jean-Baptiste was drawn to the industry’s people-first approach. She continued working in public relations, launching her own global boutique firm that she ran for 14 years.
Then, after the 2009 recession, she launched Morgensheer Hospitality, a New York-based consortium of industry experts in myriad fields that address the needs of investors within the hospitality, development, and real estate sectors. Jean-Baptiste continues to evolve her business, launching a platform that combines hospitality and real estate this year.
Here, she talks about career pivots and acting as a resource for the hotel industry.
What led you to leave your public relations firm and launch Morgensheer?
Trica Jean-Baptiste: After the 2009 recession, travel stopped. This industry always rebounds, but it comes back differently. In every crisis, there’s an opportunity. I love the business side of hospitality, and many of my PR clients were investors. [I always enjoyed the] conversation about operations in the capital markets, so I got my real estate license to sell hotels. What got me in the door was pitching myself. That’s where the PR part comes in handy.
Over a course of two or three years, I built relationships on the capital market side. As I was presenting deals, owners would come back and say, ‘We acquired this property. Who do you suggest for operations?’ I started connecting investors to brands. I decided I could generate additional revenue from this, and so I formed Morgensheer Hospitality. I put together this consortium of consultants who I tap for different services like asset management, revenue management, etc. It’s kind of like matchmaking.
How has the industry evolved since you started?
TJB: Owners are different, and I meet them where they are. With every deal, I learn something new. I’m a resource. I’m educating them on the industry, but I’m also helping them achieve their investment goals. I enjoy building trust with the investor and sitting with them through the entire process.
What have you learned from your many career pivots?
TJB: Fear is a great motivator, and if you think about what makes you fearful, you learn you have nothing to lose. You can only go forward. After 2009, I never wanted to be in that position again, so I created processes that I do every two years to keep myself relevant. I identify new markets, opportunities, and revenue streams, so that whatever the market is doing, I feel like I’m recession proof. Being able to reset regularly, no matter what’s happening in the industry or market, is important.
The other thing I learned about myself is I’m resilient. In 30 years, so much has happened from the collapse of the markets to 9/11. Through each crisis, I found the courage to move forward and utilize my skills. You have to have a passion for whatever it is that you do.
Do you think the industry has become more inclusive since you started?
TJB: I remember meeting with the group at an investment firm, and I was the only woman in the conference room. Not only the only woman, but the only person of color. It has become more inclusive from when I began, but there is tremendous work to be done.
Is there an area of the industry that you’re looking to tackle next?
TJB: What’s next for me is one last pivot. It’s my next chapter, and I’m creating something that I believe is missing within the industry. I’m building a platform that will hopefully launch this year that will encompass hospitality and real estate. I want to build something that speaks to what I’m passionate about while addressing an untapped market, and I’m excited about that.
This is part of an ongoing interview series curated by the Hospitality Diversity Action Council (HDAC).