Watertown is Forever 50

It’s fitting that Watertown, S.D., finally has a My Place Hotel, Terry Kline, the company’s EVP of Franchise Development, told a large crowd gathered for the Oct. 29 grand opening and ribbon cutting.

“I recall when we were just starting to launch the franchise system, some of the owners came to Aberdeen to visit us, and they were one of the first to reach out and talk about the My Place concept,” Kline said.

“We’re very grateful for that relationship — it’s very fitting that we’re here today celebrating the 50th hotel opening,” he said. Kline pointed out that the 63-room hotel opened Sept. 24, and as of grand-opening day it had more than 1,800 rooms occupied.

Gathered for the festivities were a mix of My Place HQ staff, hotel staff, Watertown Chamber of Commerce members and a large crowd of Watertown residents and business-people. They checked out the lobby and walked through rooms between enjoying food, drink, and door prizes.

The hotel is the first in the chain to implement a new design.

“On behalf of Watertown Hotel LLC., and Venerts Hotel Management, we are super proud of being the 50th My Place Hotel to open, but even more excited to open the hotel in the Gen 2 design,” said Connie Ward, Director of Operations/President of Venerts.

The newly redesigned Generation 2 guestroom includes a bathroom with a larger counterspace and a backlit mirror, a soothing blue accent wall color is used in the main room, and a variety of updated room amenities such as upgraded furniture and modernized finishes.

When introduced as the “guy who made the Watertown location and all other My Place Hotels locations happen,” Ryan Rivett, My Place President/CEO, walked back the introduction.

“That’s way too much credit given to me,” he said. “A franchise is built on the basis of community. It’s built on the function of taking a business concept and tying in the expertise and the abilities of different entrepreneurs and business-people together into one system.”

“We rely on each other’s ideas and strengths, we rely on the opportunities of the markets that each of us know, and that’s what has made this franchise system grow so well,” Rivett said.

Others at the grand opening included guests who have other My Place affiliations, from South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, and one who has properties in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

“I really appreciate that they are here. It’s a true testament to the network and the system that we’ve created,” Rivett said. “My Place is an exciting adventure and we’re just at the beginning of it. This is the 50th property opened in the chain, and we just started a short five years ago with franchising.”

While 53 hotels are open across the country, Rivett pointed out that several more properties are now under construction, and nearly 80 franchises are in the system. But Aberdeen, S.D., remains the My Place headquarters, the training center for future staff and general managers, and the founder’s history dating back to Super 8 days.

“We are rooted in Aberdeen, and while the company has a long history of doing business all over the country, we are able to lead the product and the fruits of that business back to South Dakota,” Rivett said.

Asked if grand openings are routine now, or if she’s getting tired of ribbon cuttings as the chain grows, Ngoc Thach, My Place Director of Public Relations, said “…anything but!”

Here’s one of our favorite photos of Ngoc with Rick Schnase!

“Local events are not only effective, but personally fulfilling,” said Thach, who has facilitated 29 grand openings and 19 groundbreakings since she began her role.

“I continue to experience the anticipation and joy of each event as I did at my first one,” she said. “While much of the planning and promotion processes are down to a science now, the interactions and opportunities are anything but routine. I, along with everyone who encounters them, are continually impressed with Ryan and Terry’s commitment to engaging and energizing the communities that surround each brand-new hotel.”

While the hotel lobby was packed for the event, the number of people Rivett, Kline and others reach at all grand openings combined is just a fraction of the digital audience My Place reaches every day, she said.

“The grassroots approach is continually supported by the variety of opportunities we capture including press coverage, franchise discussions, and room sales,” Thach said.

Mike Tanner from KWAT Radio came out to do a live broadcast from the event!

To commemorate the event, My Place Watertown asked all event attendees to bring paper-product donations to benefit the local Beacon Center, a shelter for women, men, and children. Click here to learn more about the Beacon Center!

Watertown’s My Place General Manager Kathy Kuno got a few words in, too:

“My Place is all about hospitality,” Kuno said. “If you have friends and family coming to town, please call us. We’ll get them in a room and treat them like family. Notice there are pineapples around, which represents hospitality. Our motto is Be a pineapple: Strong on the outside, sweet on the inside, and you’re always going to be wearing a crown.”

Watertown Chamber’s Jen Pendley was pleased with the strong turnout for the grand opening.

“People were asking us what is going up well before anything was really said about this hotel, so they were curious to see inside,” Pendley said. “I like that you did an open house rather than just a ribbon cutting so that people can take a look around.”

*Editors Note: We’d like to offer an extra special thanks to Jay Kirschenmann for writing this recap, to My Place Design for capturing all of the moments that made us smile and to the entire team from My Place Watertown and Venerts for putting on an incredible event