42% of the motels in the USA are owned and managed by Gujaratis. At their peak, Gujaratis had a dominance of 60% in 2012. What is the secret behind this dominance for all these years?
✨ The Genesis
It all began in 1942 when Kanji Manchhu Desai, a Gujarati immigrant was staying in a motel. Due to a sudden turn of events, the owner was forced to report to the World War II internment camp which was a blessing in disguise for Mr Desai who took over the 32-room motel in California.
In 1947, he moved to Hotel Goldfield in San Francisco which was a hub for Gujarati immigrants. He motivated people from his community to immigrate to the States. He trained and encouraged his family members to enter the hospitality business and start their own motels. Soon enough, more people started coming in and started setting up their motel businesses. This was only possible because of collateral-free loans given by their community with flexible payment plans.
🤔 But Why The Motel Business?
The frugality of Gujaratis is known to the world. Being in the motel business allowed them to stay rent-free. As their motels were managed by families, they did not need to hire anyone from outside. Finally, English wasn’t a strong suit of the 1st gen immigrant Gujaratis and luckily for them, the job didn’t require much proficiency.
In 1965 the immigration laws got more liberal which proved to be a game changer for the Gujaratis as they started migrating in huge numbers. This migration lead to rapid expansion in the motel business.
💪🏼 Sacrifice & Success
While their Hardwork and diligence played a major role in their success, their sacrifice is what laid the foundation of the massive empire. As quoted by a second-gen Gujarati: ‘My weekends were spent cleaning rooms with my parents’. They barely had any social life and always prioritised their business over their personal time.
Many renowned hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton and Starwood have also partnered with Gujaratis to franchise their hotels. The next generation is putting their best foot forward by expanding and modernising their ancestor’s work to luxury hospitality businesses and keeping their legacy alive.